I get asked from time to time what does my weird, professional world view of people make me think about, I don’t know, the variety and differences in human suffering. Fair question to a counselor, I suppose.
So the word that came to mind was: Fragile. Or at least the way I conceive of the word in relationship to human behavior.
When I use the word Fragile I am trying to describe a complex set of human behaviors and beliefs one could have about themselves. Living in the world that we all inhabit being this kind of Fragile is really, really difficult.
Fragile is related to emotional reactivity. A lot. In a way being Fragile means having very few options to deal with our own emotional selves. That is not absolutely true for all of us, as you should know. But struggling with this kind of Fragile is absolutely harder for some of us than it is for others, but we can always learn, adapt and grow.
I am sure you can think of people who you know who are at least “more” fragile than yourself. That seems to be the way we compare it to ourselves. If someone is “more” fragile than us, then maybe that’s not a good idea. Or it bothers us at least.
Fragile crosses lots of boundaries. Extreme political correctness might be a Fragile characteristic. The “safe spaces” movement in universities may be an indication of Fragile. White privilege and white fragility are definitely about being Fragile. Polarizing beliefs, black and white thinking, Fox News versus MSNBC, are all examples of being Fragile. Blaming others but never taking responsibility for one’s own actions is probably the biggest behavior behind Fragile.
Being Fragile is all about what separates us from others (and poorly at that) than what brings us together in unity, and in strength.
Consider an egg. The shell is this tiny, thin covering that protects the heavier more vulnerable inside.
The inside is where all the value is. No wonder eggs are such a powerful metaphor about life.
Whether you eat the whole egg or just the egg whites for your omelette, no one thinks twice about that cracked shell—except hopefully to compost it.
Some times some people develop in a way that they only feel like they are the shells without anything left inside. To use the Lego room model from last time, these are the same people who only have the one big Lego room to house everything about themselves. No antechambers. No way of venting off powerful emotion except to be overwhelmed by any emotional reaction one might have. I don’t know about you, but that sounds positively exhausting to me.
If there is an opposite to Fragile it is Flexible. Next time we could explore that more, but it should be no surprise for those of you who have been following for a while now.
By deciding not to be Fragile, one must acknowledge their innate vulnerability. And ironically by accepting our vulnerability, we exercise bravery and strength. Two things we most definitely will need in our life. Two things that coincidentally the shell completely lacks.
The power is inside of us all. Don’t let anything or anyone tell you otherwise.