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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

We're All Vulnerable: What We Do With It Makes the Difference

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: May 31st 2011

corduroyA little while ago I wrote a blog post that connected our vulnerabilities to the beloved childhood story of Corduroy . Corduroy was a little teddy bear in a toy shop who was missing a button on his overalls and because of this he was not picked up by the customers. Corduroy had a defect, a deficiency, something was wrong with him. In human terms, we call this our vulnerabilities.

We all have vulnerabilities, this is the sense that something is wrong with us; it’s the soft spot within that we’ve built of automatic walls over time to try and protect. It’s the moment we shut down in an angry interaction because our parents showed a lot of anger when we were kids. It’s when we try and make humor out of sad moments because it’s too uncomfortable to just be sad. It’s the shame we feel over a past or current drug addiction and so we use again in order to get away from the feeling.

Whatever our vulnerabilities are, take a listen to this video by Brene Brown, PhD at a TED conference and see what comes up in your mind.


Did that give you any insight into how you relate to your vulnerabilities or perhaps the benefit in relating to them differently?

Tara Brach, PhD is a Psychologist and meditation teacher who often speaks of the Trance of Unworthiness. She says more than anything we need to learn how to practice Radical Acceptance, the idea of learning how to understand and love ourselves even in the midst of difficulty.

This is precisely the practice of breaking free from our cycles of deficiency, the mental trap that keeps us stuck in the same old patterns, shading us from the light inside of us.

The next time you feel an emotional vulnerability, see if you can let the judgments slip aside for a moment and inquire a bit deeper into the feeling. Pretend this is the very first time you’ve ever noticed it and ask yourself, “What does this feeling believe?”

Unlock the deeper story or belief that is keeping you stuck.

Then consider the idea that thoughts truly aren’t facts and it’s through becoming more intimate with the feelings that we can start to let go of the stories.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
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Allowing Vulnerability - Chris White - May 31st 2011

I love that you are bringing this issue to the forefront Elisha. This is the place I am trying to focus my efforts with Essential Parenting. It seems that being able to stay with vulnerability is a muscle that needs to be developed, and our kids are looking to us (their parents) to tell them how much they can handle. The more we run from tears with distractions and "fixing" everything, the more our kids get the unconscious message, "You can not handle disappointment, sadness, and other vulnerable feelings." When they get this message, they start building the walls.

Thanks for the great article!


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