You’ve probably seen the clip by now because it’s all over the internet – Madonna’s wardrobe malfunction at the BRITs 2015 which caused her to be pulled, rather unceremoniously, onto the floor during her performance. She got up a few seconds later and continued as if nothing unplanned had happened, but rather than feeling the pride I might have felt in my days as an actor, I felt disappointed that she hadn’t embraced her vulnerability.
This “keeping up appearances” mentality has pervaded the world stage, including politics and business. And I believe it can be traced back to the days of hunting and gathering when food was scarce and you had to earn your place amongst the tribe. Weakness may have made you less valuable to a mate and to the community, which may have led to you being shunned and ultimately dying alone with no one to continue your lineage.
In today’s society, this primal fear could be at the root of our fear of being unattractive, being weak, being poor, being alone, useless, unworthy. The fear of being vulnerable encourages a façade of control, of power, of confidence. Madonna’s fall is mirrored in the everyday world when someone trips and falls on the street and immediately gets up and walks on before even checking to see if they’re hurt.
This conditioning is so prevalent in society that not long ago, when an older woman, who was walking towards me with her friend, tripped and fell in front of me on a busy city centre street. My initial reaction was to pull her to her feet (and I could tell she wasn’t ready to get to her feet). There was a compulsion that was stronger than my actual perception and intuition of the moment.
And even that gesture from me expressed more vulnerability than at other times in my life when I’ve been too afraid to help, too afraid to break the façade of my being a part of the strong society of people who walk without falling (or something like that). It’s not always clear enough to be put into words, but it’s definitely felt.
Thankfully, my own sense of worthiness has improved to the point where I can be much more present and authentic in the moment, and I’m able to observe the old conditioning arising and instead choose something else.
I do see a move towards authenticity gaining momentum. In celebrities like Jennifer Lawerence laughing when she falls at an awards ceremony, or my friend, poet Venus CuMara, telling me about how she refused to get up off the ground after she’d been knocked off her bike, even at the insistence of onlookers. She knew she needed time to allow her system to deal with the shock and the impact, and she took it. Power in vulnerability.
There’s actually a great TED Talk about the power of vulnerability here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability
One of the main points is that a person’s willingness to be vulnerable is one of their greatest strengths, and the thing most likely to attract love and joy into their life. 🙂
Are you keeping up appearances or keeping it real?