The Compass of Vulnerability
We all know times of vulnerability, however we defend ourselves from these feelings with our thoughts and behaviour. Some of us try to be hard or tough with all around them, others hurt ourselves with words or actions. Vulnerability is not always obvious and certainly hard to navigate around someone you really care about. Errors in thinking in face of such vulnerability can easily occur as a direct result of painful, traumatic experiences especially those experienced in the early years of life. Building on the ideas of Karen Treisman we have created a compass to help with navigating this complex terrain.
There are four main compass of vulnerability positions that a person of any age may find themselves in if they have faced attachment difficulties in their life. Our compass can allow a respectful conversation about these distorted ways of thinking as we can all recognise these themes as part of being human. In Micheline Mason’s words – also the title of her excellent book – we are all ‘Incurably Human.’
This compass can be used in for such dialogues, assessments, training work with carers and educators or even to inform direct interventions with young people.
The real challenge becomes how can we creatively help and influence these ways of thinking whilst maintaining the person’s sense of identity and self worth?
Can we encourage someone to take a more nuanced view, live with shades of grey and ambiguity?
Can we nurture more trust?
What does it take to for someone to believe other more positive messages about themselves?
How can someone begin to reduce their vigorous negative filtering and allow some positive possibilities to be viewed?
Do you recognise where you find yourself on this compass at times of feelings of greatest vulnerability? What feeds this? What helps? Who do you need at these times? What do you need from them?