Vulnerability – A Key to Compassion

I don’t usually write unless I am guided to do so. I originally envisioned this blog as a repository for my videos along my journey.  But I’m open to what Spirit suggests so I just follow the signs….and the messages are sometimes pretty direct.

Spirit said to write about vulnerability so here I am.

For most of my adult life I didn’t even think about the word vulnerability.  I certainly didn’t want to address it.  Did I feel vulnerable?  Yes.  I felt like the walking wounded.  And I didn’t have any idea what to do with it.

I wanted someone or something to fix me. To save me.  To give me all the things that I wanted so that then I could be okay. So that I could feel like a worthwhile person and not feel like I was broken.

Like many of us, I heard a lot of ways to deal with negative feelings. Go to therapy.  Ignore it and it will go away. Put on a happy face and act as if you don’t feel that way. Focus on the positive. Do something nice for someone else and you will feel better. And those were from people who wanted to help.  I also heard that I must not really feel that way because I didn’t look the way someone thought a person with those feelings would look.

Along my path, I came into contact with active listening and people who were comfortable sharing their feelings and reactions to life when they weren’t desirable. At least they weren’t the intended feeling they wanted.  But these people shared when they were not feeling up or when they were disappointed or angry or anxious. Then they didn’t ask me to fix them.  They just wanted to share where they were.  So I listened. I certainly didn’t have their answers and we made it clear that each speaker was not looking for advice or for anyone to fix them.

Then they asked me how I felt.

Ummm….yeah.

I didn’t really want to talk about it.

So, they left the door open for me to talk when I wanted to.

This was not a level of intimacy that I knew before and not something that was encouraged in my family growing up. We were the masters of if-it-looks-good-on-the-outside-everything-is-fine.  I don’t think that I am alone here because I have heard this time and time again in my work and in my personal life from others.  So, I put on a brave face and tried my best. I think that is what we all do.

Until we can’t or don’t want to anymore.

It was pointed out to me that I was a great listener but people really knew very little about me because I didn’t share much. I knew why I didn’t share. First, I didn’t know how to. Second, if you could hear all the chatter and how hard on myself I was in my head, you would be overwhelmed too.  I didn’t want to fall to pieces because I didn’t think that I could everything back together.

A persistent friend (thank you God for persistent friends!) asked me why I didn’t share much one day and I told her the reasons above.  She pointed out that maybe I wasn’t the only one who had those thoughts and maybe there could be someone who could help me like I was helping others. She offered the idea that maybe I could just share a little to see how that felt. I hesitated. But I wanted to be heard so badly!  So, I chose something which was small to me and shared it.

What relief!  I won’t say it was all rosy from there on but it was a beginning. I was hard on myself and felt like a failure at first for needing other people. But then several things were pointed out to me when I wanted to clam up again. And I write all of these in the hopes that they may help someone else.  I was told that not everything that happens is about me. I was told that sharing with others could help someone else. They may need to hear what I am going through. I was told that those who I was listening to might like an opportunity to repay the favor, so to speak. I was told that keeping everything inside had not been working for me up to that point.  And I was told that it was safe. People might not like what I had to say. They might have emotional reactions to what I had to say. They might agree or disagree with what I thought and how I felt.  But I had to do it for myself if I wanted to get any relief and move through what I was living.

So I did. For what seemed like a very long time. What I found was that the context and the situations may differ from person to person but the feelings and resisting the negative ones is universal. No one wants to suffer. And as I allowed others to support me, the feelings become weaker; they were not as intense and did not last as long.

By creating a safe space for ourselves, we were able to be loving witnesses for each other. We didn’t offer advice and we didn’t judge.  And hearing how another person comes to a decision gives you so much insight into where they are coming from and what has shaped them. And that is okay. There was no need to fix anyone because no one was broken. We were all making the best decisions we could with the information we had at that time. It was healing and allowed us to show ourselves to each other. Ultimately, it was beautiful and loving and I am so grateful to have experienced it.

In conjunction with some other spiritual tools, I made peace with my emotions. I didn’t run from having a negative emotion and try to cover it up or deny it. Because what we resist, persists.  I started to flow with them. I would let them wash over me and then keep going. And they passed.

And then the good feelings came in and replaced them.  And I flowed with them too.

Once I learned to be kind to myself, it was natural to be compassionate to others.  When I was hurting, I didn’t want to hurt them. I just wanted my hurt to stop.  And once I could be vulnerable and then heal my suffering, I wanted to share this gift with others because there are a lot of hurting people in the world.  And the world we live in doesn’t always view vulnerability as an asset.

I do.

I think it opens doors that are beyond imagination. Doors to compassion, self-love and ultimately, universal love.

Vulnerability keeps me tender-hearted. And when I am vulnerable, I heal and make it okay for others to be vulnerable and find their healing. I do not think vulnerability is the lack of strength. I think strength is identification and acceptance of vulnerability.  Because then it dissolves. Once you accept it, it no longer has any power over you. And you go on to create what it is you came to create. You are released.

And we can fly as high as we want to.

Much love to you, my friend. Much, much love. (I’d hug you if you were here in New Jersey!)

Namaste.

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6 thoughts on “Vulnerability – A Key to Compassion

  1. Carbon2Plus Ltd

    Vulnerability lead me to faith. The act of love and mindfully trusting in good where no conventional or human standards gave evidence that good might result. Faith to me is like falling from a height with unreserved trust that God is there and will catch me everytime. Like falling in love, only when open and vulnerable can I tuely exhibit love. Any reservation, holding back, or lack of trust is now incompatible with my true faith and love of others.

    Reply
  2. Mary

    You beautifully articulated the strange, difficult, wonderful journey of what I believe is at the heart of essential human connection – vulnerability. The reciprocality of sharing and listening is at the heart of humanity’s relationship to itself. Thank you for getting this out!

    Reply
    1. sayyestoeverything Post author

      Thank you, Mary! I think we can help each other heal by sharing our stories. I think sharing and listening are valuable tools to identify ourselves and hold a space for ourselves and others.

      Reply

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