Being vulnerable means being susceptible to physical harm or damage; susceptible to emotional injury, especially in being easily hurt, according to The Free Dictionary. Most everyone knows that being vulnerable is a no-no because that means you’re open to get hurt – physically or emotionally, or both. And nobody wants to get hurt.
Bemused as to why I’m going on about vulnerability and being vulnerable? That’s because that was the topic of my interesting conversation with Pratima Nagaraj, who changed my perception about the concept.
Image source: Pratima Nagaraj
Pratima Nagaraj was a typical techie from Bangalore, who, after completing her degree in Computer Science & Engineering, worked in Intel. Post that, she graduated from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad with an MBA. MBA in hand, she worked in the corporate sector. But she wasn’t quite happy with her cushy job. She wanted something more out of life. She didn’t want to follow the herd and end up being miserable in a job that she didn’t like, except for the money!
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But how did she do it? How did she get what she wanted out of life? When she moved to Dubai post her wedding, she decided to take a break from work to explore what she wanted to do next. During the same time, she was also undergoing a few health issues. During the course of exploring alternative ways to cure them, she stumbled on to hypnotherapy and Reiki, and she swears by their efficacy today. And that’s how she got into this field.
Here’s all about how she got into her current line of work, which is intriguing and interesting, to say the least.
Tell me about your work.
Pratima Nagaraj (PN): I’m into energy healing, working with any issues that people have to help them shift and change it. Be it their relationships, money issues, health – I address and help them through all of them. I conduct self-empowerment sessions/workshops where I use various modalities like hypnotherapy, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Reiki, and other forms of energy healing. A combo or a single technique to empower them to change.
Have you had anyone come to you with relationship problems like having a tough time moving on or breakup issues?
PN: Absolutely! Relationship problems are one of the top issues that people come to me about. Many people with relationship issues who come to me have already tried various techniques and haven’t found any solutions. They come to me as a last resort – nothing has worked, and they’d like to see if this works. I offer them a hypnotherapy session to try and release anything negative or beliefs they’re holding on to, that can change their relationship status.
Can you give me an example of that?
PN: Definitely. For example, some people have a history of attracting the same kind of man or woman; some keep attracting abusive relationships. I look at the root of the problem and try to address them. We’re working at the thought and energy level because everything that’s created in your life is through your thoughts and emotions, and these can be acquired at a really young age.
Can you explain it in depth?
PN: Even when you’re a toddler of two years old, you might have noticed the way your parents interact with each other. Even if you don’t understand the concept of a divorce or a dysfunctional family, these are rooted in your subconscious. Then you begin to build relationships based on that. We look at changing that, and these changes are quite evident too. People are able to build better relationships, joyful relationships. Ultimately, it all depends on the person’s individual willingness to change.
Image source: Pratima Nagaraj
Do you address a specific problem or look at the underlying issue, and then tackle the main problem?
PN: It is about addressing the underlying issue. Generally, when people come with an issue, it’s more on the surface level, more of a symptom, than the actual issue. Self-love is one of the most common root causes for such problems. They don’t love themselves enough. They have low self-esteem. They look at other people for love and caring and affection. What we look at it is how they can develop a relationship with themselves, where they can start loving and caring for themselves. When they are so empowered, they start attracting people who respect them and treat them with the same love and care. Exploring, digging deeper, get to the underlying issue, and then begin to change that.
What are the certifications/courses you’ve had to complete once you took up hypnotherapy?
PN: I did my course from National Guild of Hypnotists, which is the worldwide institution for hypnotherapy. After that, I didn’t feel like going back to the IT sector. I knew that I’d found my passion, and I wanted to help other people with the knowledge I’d acquired. So, I moved to Singapore and started a holistic healing center, where I use a variety and a combination of techniques that I offer through my session and workshops. That was about six years ago, and since then, I’ve been adding different skills to my repertoire and expanding on what I can offer.
Are you happy you followed your passion?
PN: Despite quitting my well-paying job, I knew that this is what I was passionate about. I followed my passion and I did it, and I couldn’t be happier for it. When you do something you’re passionate about, money will automatically come to you.
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Your book Vulnerability As The Road To Change gave me food for thought. We all think that being vulnerable and vulnerability as such, as weaknesses. How do you perceive vulnerability?
PN: In fact, that’s exactly what I thought as well, when I came across the concept of vulnerability. We have this misconception that vulnerability is weakness. It’s defined as weakness by everyone around us. But … what true vulnerability is, is about living without any barriers or defenses; having no resistance to anything. It can be likened to being like an open wound. You’re not covering up the wound with anything, leaving it open. The wound will sting, but it also heals faster when it’s open. When you’re functioning like an open wound in your life, then you’re not blocking anything coming into your life.
Take for instance the fact that you don’t like being judged – in fact, nobody likes to be judged. You put up a barrier against judgments. But, that barrier doesn’t know what to block and what not to block. Such a barrier will block money, good relationships, and even good health, good possibilities, and good opportunities. Then you wonder why am I not having joyful relationships? Why am I having money issues? When you actually start being vulnerable, you’ll have more joy, more money, better relationships in your life. That’s how vulnerability is a strength. It allows you to be more authentic, step out into the world naked – you’re not wearing any masks or pretending to be someone else they’re not. Because when you’re not your authentic self, you can’t build authentic relationships. When you drop your masks and pretentions, people get to see the real YOU. They get to connect with the inner YOU. They are then willing to receive whatever you have to offer. There is an amazing connection and a relationship that gets developed when you’re being vulnerable.
How do you get through the pain that comes with being vulnerable?
PN: People will never stop judging you or criticizing you. What has to change is the way you react to those judgments. You have to realize that when people are judging you, it’s about them, not about you. For example, if you didn’t know what being jealous means, would you be able to tell if others are being jealous? When being vulnerable to judgments, just realize that it’s not about you; let it just flow through you, without locking it up within yourself. It’s like being a rock in a stream. You just be there and allow the water to flow over you, without letting the water change you.
How can a person be truly vulnerable in a relationship?
PN: You’re probably pretending to be someone you’re not with your partner, just so that they like you. Think about it, if there’s a wall around you, how can you connect with another person? You have to dissolve those boundaries so that the other person can see the real YOU. Because when you’re not being all of you, who is the other person connecting with? Your partner is not having a relationship with you anymore, because you’re not present there. That’s where being vulnerable can create better, greater, joyful relationships.
You make is sound so easy!
PN: Actually, it is as easy as it sounds. But, it does take conscious effort and continuous practice. It all starts with a choice – of being vulnerable. It’s like exercising a muscle. As you practice it more and more, it will gradually become a way of life. Initially, when you start being vulnerable by lowering your barriers and walls, it may seem overwhelming and uncomfortable. But that’s only because you’re receiving all the awareness around you. Just be like the rock in a stream and allow it to flow through you. You don’t have to do anything about it – just receive it, look at it as an interesting point of view, and let it flow through you. In fact, you will be more aware of things. In fact, people think that having a barrier will give them protection. But that’s one of the reasons why everybody likes to have barriers. However, vulnerability is the greatest protection you can have. If you’re behind your walls and barriers, you’re unaware of the things that might hurt you in the long run. However, if you’re being vulnerable, you’re aware of everything that would hurt you. Vulnerability actually allows you to be more aware.
People can actually notice the changes in your body language when you’re being vulnerable. They’re more receptive to what you have to offer them. Vulnerability creates an irresistible invitation. You create better connections in your business, your relationships, and yourself.
How has being vulnerable improved your relationship with your husband, your parents, and your family?
PN: Mainly with my husband because it has helped me to be more of ME. As I stepped into being more authentic self, it helped me look at where I’m giving up myself to be with him. So, I changed that. He got inspired to do the same. He chose to be his authentic self, while I chose to be my more authentic self. We have more happiness and joy to share with each other. That helped us take our relationship much deeper. We were vulnerable enough to tell each other what wasn’t working, rather than choose to be hurt. We then came up with ways that worked for both of us, without judging the other, without pointing fingers. Really, there’s no right and wrong in a relationship. Now, my relationship seems effortless, and something that has given me access to more of me. I’m able to find more of myself through this relationship.
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It sounds easy, but I’m guessing it’s not that easy being vulnerable…
PN: It’s not difficult, but it’s the starting point. The first relationship you have in your life is with yourself. Every relationship begins with you. All the relationships around you is a reflection of the kind of relationship you have with yourself. If you don’t have a relationship with yourself, then how can you create a relationship with someone else? Judgment creates a separation. If you judge yourself, then you’re separating you from you. So work towards creating a relationship with yourself. You have to be vulnerable with yourself before you can be vulnerable with others. Being vulnerable with you is the basic thing. I lower my barriers with myself, which means I’m willing to see the good, the bad, and the ugly about myself. When you’re being vulnerable with yourself, you love yourself, you care for yourself, you’re nurturing yourself. When this happens, you’re able to create a joyful, caring, nurturing relationship with someone else. When you love yourself, when you’re happy with yourself, you attract the kind of people who love you, respect you, and nurture you. It’s like the law of attraction. Whatever energy you have around you, you attract the same kind of energy too. That’s the way the universe works. Being vulnerable is an invitation to fall in love with yourself all over again.
This conversation did change my view of things. But I’m still on the fence about being vulnerable in my relationships. 😉
Pratima Nagaraj’s book, Vulnerability As The Road To Change, is available on Amazon in both hard copy as well as a Kindle version. Apart from the book, she also conducts workshops, both in-person as well as online.
For more information, check out her site: pratimanagaraj.com
Featured image source: Routercheck