“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” ~Criss Jami
Wanting to avoid pain and shield ourselves from it is natural—and, by the way, completely not possible, because as we close up to protect ourselves against pain, we also block out the light that reflects from it.
Despite our best efforts, the boundaries that we’ve built around our hearts to protect us from feeling pain, discomfort, and hurt are the very chains that keep us tethered to it, disallowing us from feeling the opposites—joy, love and passion.
Only in embracing our true nature, at our deepest core level, as emotional, vulnerable, and feeling beings are we able to tap our resilient inner strength.
Have you ever tried to cross your arms in front of your heart while smiling or laughing at the same time? Try it. It feels weird. You may be aware that you’re smiling or laughing, but you sure don’t feel like it.
Or, try throwing your arms up wide with a big open heart like you just crossed the finish line of an amazing race, and see if you can wear a frown or angry face. It simply feels unnatural. This is because we are feeling beings and our heart center is our core feeling center.
When we block our heart, we block the feelings as well, and when we open our heart it feels unnatural to be anything but joyous.
Our feelings are indicators of our current alignment with our soul’s path and higher energy source.
I used to stuff feelings down deep, especially negative ones, not understanding that by doing so I was suppressing my unique intuitive guidance system.
Feelings are there to teach us something about ourselves and reveal to us our true desires. It is only in a state of vulnerability, when we drop the armor around our hearts, that we can truly access these feelings and lessons to become centered, strong, and wise.
My early childhood and adolescent years were largely dysfunctional. I grew up broke for the most part in an unstable household, where my father, who was an alcoholic, was also verbally or physically abusive.
This environment imprinted on my young developing mind a perception that the world was difficult. I viewed the world through a lens smudged of struggle, and this perception became my reality as I felt I had to muscle my way through life in in an effort to not end up like my past.
As a result, I spent the better part of three decades unconsciously building walls to protect myself from these fears and insecurities I knew as a child.
Vulnerability meant emotional pain, so I developed thick skin growing up. From the vantage point of others, I had a good front of just being strong-willed and determined; and my fear of being judged by my dysfunctional upbringing was somewhat minimalized.
As I made my way through life, I’ve always seemed happy enough, pretty enough, and smart enough, yet I grew acutely aware there was a happiness ceiling I was hitting my head on, fully conscious of the fact that it simply was not high enough.
While I experienced happiness regularly, when it came to feeling joyful, there seemed to be a disconnect. I was too guarded and allowed myself to become hardened, stiff, and in a state of resistance.
I thought that in order to be strong and powerful I had to be tough and put up a good fight, putting up protective layers of resistance. Ironically, in an effort to be strong, I was giving up my power.
My happiness was largely contingent on other things happening or not happening as if it was out of my control. I now can attribute this disconnect as a result of resisting my true authentic nature and not staying open and vulnerable to the calling of my inner Higher Self, due to the layers of walls and blockages I have built.
There came a point in my life after my father’s traumatic death to cancer when I decided I no longer would accept going through my days hardened, disconnected, or defensive. I had not fully forgiven him at the time of his passing, but I made a conscious choice then, and now it’s a daily evolution, where I choose to surrender to my vulnerability instead of hiding from it.
Through yoga, meditation, and a lot of conscious intention setting, I began to shed these walls one layer at a time, revealing each time the softer side that I’ve always known to be a core part of my being—the side that is moldable, connected and resides with a deep inner knowing; the part that changes, grows and allows.
These days I choose to take my power back and wear my heart on my sleeve, where it belongs. This doesn’t mean I’m overly emotional, but I do allow myself to be vulnerable, to drop my resistance and feel my way through my experiences, reflecting as needed in pursuit for higher meaning behind anything that would otherwise cause me pain.
I’m acutely aware that everything is fleeting or temporary, and because of this I try my best not to take things for granted. With this awareness I feel I have no choice but to completely absorb the moment by allowing myself to be vulnerable and truly deeply feel.
The challenge lies in discerning what beliefs no longer serve you and understanding that, while you have emotions and deep feelings, you are not these emotions or feelings, and rather they are there to help guide your life’s experiences.
If we move through life mistaking vulnerability for weakness, or build walls to hide from our vulnerability, we stifle the fruition of the very experiences we long for, and true love, joy, passion, and freedom will fall painfully at our feet, appearing out of reach.
To be vulnerable is to be in a state of trust and courage. From this state, all things are possible and our drive, willpower, and strength align with who we really are, not what we fear.
Any strength that lies outside of vulnerability is a façade built by fear. It must be shed to allow our completely raw and unrefined truth to shine through, so we can deeply experience all of life’s’ beautiful sharp edges.
Joyful woman image via Shutterstock