Vulnerability: Being Open, Accessible, Sensitive and Dropping the Armor

self help

Vulnerability: Being Open, Accessible, and Sensitive and Dropping the Armor

Vulnerability isn’t timidity or weakness. Rather, it’s an acknowledgment that we are sensitive, alive, and affected emotionally by our interactions and experiences.

More helpful words to express this quality include:


When we are open and accessible, we are able to connect with ourselves, and we make it much easier for others to connect with us.

I learned this lesson years ago, and it was a turning point in my life both personally and professionally. When I was thirty, my career was blossoming. I’d learned how to say wise words and make a positive impression on clients, but my life, especially in the area of intimate relationships, was reflecting the need for personal growth.

Although I’d done considerable work on my mind and body, my emotional center hadn’t received the same amount of attention. This discrepancy seemed to be playing out in a series of less than fulfilling relationships. After rationalizing that I just hadn’t met the right person, I began to consider my own responsibility and asked: “How can I  become the right person?”

On the recommendation of a friend whose advice I heeded due to the searing accuracy of her critical feedback, I went to see a psychotherapist. This was a stretch since, having been raised by a therapist, going to therapy as a child, and studying psychology for years both academically and practically, I was skeptical, and probably arrogant, about the prospect of finding someone I’d respect.

Finding Myself

The minute I walked into Dr. Mort Herskowitz’s office, my skepticism and arrogance vanished. There was something about his penetrating gaze, purity of attention, and ease within himself that made it clear, as soon as he looked at me, that I couldn’t fool him, and I soon discovered that in his presence I couldn’t fool myself. He wasn’t interested in anything that wasn’t authentic. Mort was an uncompromising mirror of the self.

An osteopathic physician and psychiatrist, Mort trained for nine years with Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957), the legendary pioneer of depth psychology. I had studied Reich’s theory of character armor, the idea that our stresses and traumas stay locked in our muscles and viscera, but believed I had sorted all that out through years of various mind and body practices. Wrong!

I worked with Mort for the better part of the next twenty years, during which time he helped me surface and fully experience the anxiety, fear, shame, and anger that I didn’t even know I had. Where did all this originate? Perhaps it was inherited? Or maybe it came from unresolved childhood frustrations? I don’t know.

The work with Mort didn’t focus on analyzing or understanding the causes; rather, it was about releasing the armor and experiencing more openness and aliveness. As difficult as this was — and it’s probably the most difficult work I’ve ever done — it was liberating.

A Sense Of Greater Connectedness

As I learned to breathe through the armoring, energy began moving through me in a new way, like water flowing through a fire hose when the kinks are removed. Although I experienced emotions that were far from pleasant, I invariably left Mort’s office with a sense of greater connectedness to myself, the people in my life, and all of creation.

The leaves of the trees on his Philadelphia street corner always looked greener and the light outside always seemed brighter when I left his office. And when the dark and frightening feelings were brought to light, they subsided and were replaced by waves of joy, gratitude, and appreciation.

I started seeing Mort in the days before cell phones and email, but on the corner opposite his office was a pay phone. After each session I’d find myself picking up that phone and calling someone in my life to say, “I love you.” This wasn’t the expression of a superficial sentimentality, but rather an experience, at the core of my being, that loving connection is the underpinning of life.

Releasing the Armor

Wilhelm Reich, Mort’s teacher, wrote, “The armored, mechanistically rigid person thinks mechanistically, produces mechanistic tools, and forms a mechanistic conception of nature.” In our complex and often crazy world we may feel the need to armor ourselves against the onslaught of noxious stimuli. The danger is that, as Reich warned, the armoring becomes our default setting, blocking our ability to connect with ourselves and others in a genuine way.

Working with Mort, I discovered a profound paradox. When I released my armoring and felt most open and accessible, I discovered the source of inner confidence and connection. Vulnerability is power, because being open and accessible makes real connection possible. You can work on this in therapy for decades or practice it in your everyday interactions.

Copyright ©2017 by Michael J. Gelb.
Reprinted with permission from New World Library

Article Source

The Art of Connection: 7 Relationship-Building Skills Every Leader Needs Now
by Michael J. Gelb.

The Art of Connection: 7 Relationship-Building Skills Every Leader Needs Now by Michael J. Gelb.These days, it’s often easier to avoid face-to-face contact in favor of technological shortcuts. But as Michael Gelb argues in this compelling, entertaining book, the meaningful relationships that come from real interaction are the key to creating innovative ideas and solving our most intractable problems. In The Art of Connection, Gelb offers readers seven methods of developing this essential rapport in their professional and personal lives.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book.

About the Author

Michael J. GelbMichael J. Gelb is the author of The Art of Connection and has pioneered the fields of creative thinking, accelerated learning, and innovative leadership. He leads seminars for organizations such as DuPont, Merck, Microsoft, Nike, Raytheon, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He is the coauthor of Brain Power and author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci and several other bestsellers. His website is

Books by this Author

Creativity On Demand: How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius

self helpAuthor: Michael J. Gelb
Binding: Paperback
  • Sir Ken Robinson

Studio: Sounds True
Label: Sounds True
Publisher: Sounds True
Manufacturer: Sounds True

Buy Now
Editorial Review:

Do moments of inspiration have to be few and far between―or can you develop the ability to access your deepest creativity at any time? Michael Gelb has discovered the missing key that allows genius to flourish: an open, reliable connection to the vital life energy we all possess. “The practices for accessing energy have been developed for thousands of years in yoga, martial arts, and Chinese medicine,” Gelb says. “I’ve asked today’s greatest living masters of these arts to contribute their most effective practices for cultivating creative energy―in a way that the average person can do in 20 minutes or less.”

With Creativity On Demand, Gelb teaches a series of time-tested practices to clear blockages and open the flow of creative energy, then reveals how these techniques can be integrated with the renowned creative mindset and creative process tools he’s taught to individuals and organizations worldwide. Join him as he shares potent secrets for:

  • Mastering creative energy―discover qi, the “fire of genius,” and learn movement-based practices to amplify it
  • Mastering creative mindset―how to break out of conventional thinking and fear-based limitations to unleash your potential
  • Mastering the creative process―guidance to help you channel your creative energy, refine your ideas, and translate inspiration into reality
  • Effective, easy-to-learn techniques and strategies for accessing the power of qi and creating a reservoir of creative energy you can rely on when you need it

“Creative energy is a resource that doesn’t get depleted when you use it,” teaches Michael Gelb. “Rather, the more you access it, the stronger it becomes. With an investment of less than half an hour a day, you’ll discover that within a few months you’ve significantly strengthened your core creative energy.” Here is Michael Gelb’s most powerful work yet on unlocking our potential to innovate, achieve, and access our Creativity on Demand.

self help

follow InnerSelf on


 Get The Latest By Email


follow InnerSelf on


 Get The Latest By Email