The Power of Vulnerability: 10 Life Lessons
Up until the last few years, I had rejected the idea of allowing myself to be vulnerable, if even on a subconscious and cellular level.
From a young age, I had managed to push down any vulnerability or sensitivity I had in me for my own psychic survival. Looking back I realize that I suffered from some deep emotional wounds, wounds that I wouldn’t or couldn’t acknowledge. Was it because I was strong? Was it because I was stubborn? Perhaps I was both. The truth was, I no longer knew. Somewhere along the road to survival, the difference between the two had begun to blur.
I refused to be hurt. I refused it with such a vengeance; I probably hurt myself more in the process. I spent what felt like an eternity building emotional brick walls in hopes that they would protect my heart. Yes, I had it all figured out. Through the cunning and creative placement of walls, I would never have to feel pain again. Absence of pain equaled happiness.
You can imagine this was the start of a long, frustrating, and disappointing journey which ultimately landed me into one of the most painful life situations ever. There’s nothing like a near death experience, or three, to slow you down. On my path to healing, I came across this river of emotions flowing through me. Further along on the path, I found a wall I had built—a dam to the river. It was now an ocean, and I didn’t know how to swim, literally and figuratively. I went out in search of tools to help me take this wall down without causing further damage to my body or psyche.
It wasn’t long before I realized just how sensitive I really was. This sensitivity, or vulnerability, that I had denied myself all these years was now coming back to haunt me in the form of physical illness and anxiety disorder. As I allowed this side of me to emerge, it turns out that there was no way to avoid the pain associated with it. I felt so much! It overwhelmed me at times; the emotions and feelings were like a rush. Feeling like I had finally taken my first deep breath, I exhaled and thought “Damn! This stinks!” “This” referring to everything I found myself to be doing at the time.
All of a sudden I was unhappy with my line of work. Many of my relationships and friendships were beginning to feel less satisfying. This feeling of discontent followed me around all day. In short, I was depressed. I also had no idea how I was supposed to go about changing everything in my life, but I knew that there had to be changes. I also knew, though, that my life at that time was a house of cards, every card depended on the other. Taking away any one card would bring the whole house down.
And so it was. My house of cards and all my walls came crashing down and I had to start over. Just as I would catch myself starting to build up my house of cards again, I’d stop.
I’d remind myself of some of the lessons I have learned on this journey:
1) Honor yourself first and above all. You are no good to anyone if you are no good to yourself.
2) YOU are the reason why you are not happy with your life… period. Your life is based on a series of you own choices, no one else’s. You are not a victim, you are an empowered creator.
3) The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over and expecting a different outcome. If you want your life to be different, make different choices.
4) If you want to attract “better things” into your life, work on becoming a better person. You attract what you are.
5) There is a delicate balance to the Universe. It always provides everything you need. Note that “need” and “want” are two very different things.
6) Be kind, but don’t be a pushover. If it doesn’t feel true for you, chances are, it’s not. Then refer to lesson #1.
7) Your body is your vessel and a gift; it doesn’t deserve your abuse. There is a fine line between indulging a desire, and depending on it.
8) Forgive, forgive, forgive, but don’t forget. Start with yourself first.
9) Choose friends who share your enthusiasm for life and appreciate your strengths and weaknesses.
Which brings me to one of my most important lessons….
10) Our strength lies in our vulnerability and our willingness to keep our hearts open in spite of all the painful blows that life throws at us. By allowing your heart to remain open you will not only learn faster and heal faster, but all those delicate and beautiful parts of yourself will begin to flourish.
Sensitivity is not a weakness. It could perhaps be your greatest unrealized strength. In my case, allowing myself to be vulnerable and honoring my sensitivity allowed me to start coming out of hibernation.
“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip, or you talk with Richard, and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death.”
~ Anais Nin
Live life fully, in all its joy, in all its pain and in all its glory.
**This article is also available on Elephant Journal.