Reading Linda Kohanov recently reminded me of how important it is to allow ourselves to be truly vulnerable.
Kohanov says “Vulnerability is one of the most difficult feelings for the human ego to handle. Letting go of our defences takes humility, awareness, and tremendous courage. Opening the heart to life’s mysteries allows us to experience the beauty behind the pain and keep our hearts open to life.”
More than seven years ago, I remember my first true lesson in this journey—the journey between (and with) strength and vulnerability. Many of us grow up with the belief and words, “be strong,” “don’t cry,” and “it’s character-building stuff.”
Especially here in the west where I live, the British and our “stiff upper lip” culture creates such armouring through walls of defences where we are encouraged not to cry, not to emote, not to show our tears because it’s a sign of weakness.
I so strongly disagree.
Tears are a sacred water that aids us in opening our hearts. We long to cry through laughter, yet few of us allow ourselves to truly cry ’til we laugh. Grief and joy are two sides of the same coin.
We live in a world of seeking good and pleasure; we are joy chasers, yet when pain comes crawling upon us in the form of loss, we shut it out instead of becoming angry and dismissive. “Poisoned arrows” of pain are thrown at us, both consciously and unconsciously, as we defend ourselves from opening up to be truly seen in the magnificent “chaos” that it takes to be fully human, fully alive, fully here.
How many of us feel we are living “half” a life? Settling for the job, the house, the lover, the life we have in fear of f*cking it up, of being alone, of stepping into the unknown?
Fear of actually asking for our needs to be met—yes, someone might decline—or to actually ask for what we want. Wow. Few of us actually give ourselves the full permission to do so.
What’s the worst that can happen? Yes, we may be rejected and turned down. But, what if our needs are met? What then?
Crikey. Yes, vulnerability. Someone has heard, someone has responded, and someone loves us enough to meet us fully.
This is a rarity.
I know, for me, I have some people in my life that offer me this. They also offer me the practice to deal with “rejection” when they cannot or do not want to meet requested needs. Therapists are great in helping us to learn these things; we speak, they listen. They also have great boundaries, which means that a negotiation has to ensue to meet our needs. This is practice for the real world.
We often settle for relationships. We take them for granted, we become complacent about them. It takes huge vulnerability to show up fully. It takes snot, tears, heart opening, and wrenching honesty to show up in our glory and our pain. These emotions make us human. For me, this is what it takes to be fully engaged with life.
I know if I am unable to show up in my pain, I decline—my mental and physical health suffer. I become distant, depressed, and question my actual meaning in this life. This is because my heart is open. It is open to connection, it is open to life and love.
I have such fear around people often rejecting me. If they do, I turn it into “I’m not enough, there is something wrong with me” and see myself still wanting to hide.
Yet, is there actually anything “wrong” with any of us? No.
We all have our own journeys, our own wounds, stories, and patterns. It is what we do with these wounds and patterns that determine how they play out in our lives.
Can we begin to see our wounds as guides—as pathways? As simply stories and patterns? Can we begin to rewrite them, holding the parts of ourselves that “play out” in fear and pain to keep us safe, when really, we want to run forward and embrace all of life?
Can we as human beings, see another and accept them as a being walking their own path? I know I can struggle with this. I judge myself, so how can I not judge another? This is another one of my learnings and growth points. We’re all learning.
I know that, for me, being open to my vulnerability means that I’m being authentic to myself, to my life, and my path. I am being courageous and strong by inviting “all” of myself here to dance the dance of life and love.
Does it hurt? Hell yes. Does it also bring me joy? Hell yes.
I say bring it—bring it with grace, with passion. Bring life to me to dance with—in all its mess and glory and colours.
May my vulnerable heart grow in its strength and tenderness as I say “yes” to more life.