In Praise of Fragility, a Great Quality in Complex Times

Gripped as we are by an almost endless succession of crises and unpredictable events, it seems that we're more fragile than ever. Indeed, we feel vulnerable. However, this dimension also contains an unusual strength.
In Praise of Fragility, a Great Quality in Complex Times
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 May, 2023

Fragility is present in every aspect of your reality. Indeed, even the strongest rocks break, the hardest metals crack, and the most luminous stars collapse and slowly disappear into the universe. Nothing lasts forever, and there are few things that show an indestructible solidity.

As a human being, you always strive to be invulnerable. However, life is sometimes like a house of cards and can collapse before you in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, you still endeavor to be ‘strong’. It’s as if strength were the solution to all your problems and the ointment for all your internal wounds, those that nobody sees, but that you carry around with you in secret.

When you’re hit by a succession of crises, you feel more naked than ever. These random events have removed from your mind certain realities that you previously took for granted. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one, see your job stability in jeopardy, or are struggling with a deep existential crisis.

Why not admit that you feel fragile? It doesn’t mean you’re weak or fallible. In fact, fragility contains great inner beauty.

There are times when you feel extremely scared. This means you see yourself as fragile and vulnerable.

Couple thinking about fragility
Embracing your fragility means accepting one more aspect of you, the one that accepts its fractures, fears, and vulnerabilities.

Fragility is just another part of yourself

You feel worried, you’re caught up in a muddy malaise. You see many changes around you. As if the pandemic wasn’t terrifying enough, the bigger picture continues to look dark. War, conflict, the general rise in prices, the threat of economic recession, climate change…

In addition, you have your own personal problems. They only make it even more evident that you’re more fragile than ever. And you don’t like it. In fact, you process it as a threat and feel scared, vulnerable, and fragile.

Your brain likes to feel stable and secure. It likes to know that the people who say they love you today will keep on loving you. That the job you have today that gives you a salary will continue to do so. In fact, you need to know that the world, society, and the planet that gives you sustenance and shelter will continue to be safe today, tomorrow, and the day after.

However, as you well know, life is sometimes erratic and unpredictable. Everything can change from one moment to the next.

The need to accept your vulnerability

Accepting fragility means integrating an essential part of you. None of us come into the world with packaging that warns “Fragile. Handle with care”, we’re all made of the same elements. We’re flesh, bones, and emotions. Feeling fear, restlessness, worry, and sadness is part of our psychobiological repertoire.

You should accept your inner realities and give space and presence to your vulnerability. As a matter of fact, the lecturer, Brené Brown claims that accepting your vulnerability gives you confidence during difficult times.

Being able to become aware of those challenging emotional states, without blocking them, benefits you and gives you relief. Also, nothing is as important as allowing yourself to show your vulnerability to others. It’s a form of deep emotional openness toward those you have in front of you, essential for giving support so you can empathize with each other.

Fragility helps you get through difficult times

One area that’s delved into the subject of fragility rather deeply is poetry. It has many names, texts, and polished metaphors to describe our wounds, weaknesses, anguish, fears, and regrets. Indeed, poems are windows for delving into the intimate, veiled, and misunderstood territory of the human being. However, that literary vision is far removed from the ideal of absolute strength that we like to pretend.

Research conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) claims that psychology could usefully approach poetry to make people see the benefits of revealing their inherent fragility.

Connecting with your sensitivities allows you to drop useless resistance. This only hinders your power to heal, but you often hide behind it, pretending you’re okay when you’re not. However, there’s nothing wrong with revealing your own fragility, the crack in your heart, the tremor of fear, and the bruises you’re left with after your latest disappointment.

In fact, only when you see yourself as you are, will you know what areas you need to attend to in order to regain your confidence and have the courage to face adversity.

Walking feet symbolizing fragility
We all have cracks in our hearts, broken pieces that we don’t know how to put together, but there’s real beauty in fragility.

We all have cracks. They’re where the light comes in

There’s an undeniable beauty in human frailty. We’ve all experienced it at some point. Each of us keeps within us emotional lacerations and broken pieces of experiences that we’ve never fully overcome. Indeed, as Leonard Cohen said, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.

You’re an imperfect being, dealing with a thousand difficulties every day. Yet, despite each eroded fragment of your being, you find the strength to carry on. You heal and rise again, gain resilience, learn, and rebuild your world, despite your fear and uncertainties. You’re fragile but brave, you’re finite but you make your mark.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Gremigni, Paola & Chiarini, A. & Bitti, R. & Pio, E.. (2004). Emotional fragility predicts perceived well-being in psychiatric patients. 19. 67-68.
  • Lehmann OV, Brinkmann S. Revisiting “The Art of Being Fragile”: Why cultural psychology needs literature and poetry. Culture & Psychology. 2020;26(3):417-433. doi:10.1177/1354067X19862183

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.