Life is a process of unfolding.
Like the petals of a delicate flower, we open and move into new states of grace. As we open ourselves more fully, we become increasingly more vulnerable and exposed.
But this isn’t a fragile place.
Quite the contrary.
Within the heart of vulnerability lies the realisation that love can’t be fully experienced whilst we actively keep secrets or try to withhold or protect ourselves.
Keeping secrets leads to fear and guilt. This wastes our precious energies. On the other hand, within our vulnerability sits our tenderness, gentility and compassion. And it’s here that our true strength is seated.
The ability to be gentle yet strong creates a powerful healing force, which gives permission to others to let their defences down when they’re around us. This allows us be open to loving communication and fulfilling experiences.
Often we confuse weakness for strength
It seems there’s an attitude in the world that strength and force are the same thing. Of course they’re not. Yet many people have developed qualities they see as strengths which, in fact, only support their weaknesses.
Compromise, which most people see as a strength, asks us to give up something we may not want to give up. This, more often than not, leads to resentment.
And if what we’re being asked to give up is very important to us or who we are, then it certainly won’t lend to our strength.
Resentment doesn’t open us — like the petals of a flower — in trust.
By forfeiting something that’s important to us or about us, we betray our true selves and become vulnerable to another’s control.
Our vulnerability then becomes a weakness, not a strength because we’ve given our power away to someone else.
But for those who would prefer to control others, this is an ideal outcome.
Rather than allowing each person to decide for themselves what they want or what they would like to contribute, the controlling person decides for them so that they can get what they want.
In this instance, force is being imposed onto someone who may want to share their ideas, friendship or even love, freely. But the controlling person forces the other to withhold. Suppression of another’s expression is the result.
Co-operation, on the other hand, allows each individual to add their own particular qualities or gifts to any given situation.
The true strength of co-operation lies in its invitation to each of us to contribute something we would like to give. It requires all parties to be open and trusting.
These examples help demonstrate how many of us can confuse force with strength.
The need to force others to do as we want, rather than accepting what’s freely being offered, can only come from hidden feelings of unworthiness or low self-esteem.
That is to say: People who control, feel threatened by other people’s strengths.
And in the case of needing to withold and distance ourselves from others, or needing secrecy in our thoughts and behaviours, then defensiveness can be the only result — a weak position to take.
Yet we all know true strength when we feel it in another.
The openness and confidence of those who posess true strength is almost tangible. It offers those around them reassurance and instills, in all, a feeling of confidence.
This strong sense of self comes from their willingness to look inside, without fear or resistance, and acknowledge honestly what’s going on within.
Because strong people aren’t afraid to look inside, they’re also not afraid for others to see inside them. They have nothing to hide from others. By not hiding their true thoughts and feelings from themselves, they’re free to be honest within and without.
They’re free to be open.
But whilst our energies are directed towards concealing those things we don’t want discovered or that we prefer not to share, our focus is distracted from being fully in the present moment.
And it’s in the present that life is truly experienced.
The desire to withhold from sharing, in any form, is always to the detriment of ourselves, first. It leads to poor foundations in our relationships, and it doesn’t give us the upper hand.
Yet this is how so many people conduct their relationships, both professional and personal.
Of course, sometimes we don’t feel like sharing what’s on our minds and in our hearts. Sometimes we feel a need for privacy. And, if we give of ourselves openly and often, it’s a good balance to take some time to replenish ourselves accordingly.
But privacy is not secrecy.
Hiding from ourselves and others shows a lack of trust
When someone’s secretive or withholding as a general way of travelling in life, it’s usually the result of a lack of trust in themselves and those around them. They fear being exposed. Whether, they’re afraid of being punished, judged or blamed, they feel a need to remain closed and protect themselves.
They defend their vulnerability and, by doing so, reinforce it as a weakness rather than a strength.
Even so, they are still just ordinary people trying to find happiness in life.
The action of defending vulnerability, however, can lead ultimately to more serious, and even damaging, states of being. There’s a tiny number of people in the world who, through serious damage to their spirits, appear to take pleasure in doing harm to others. Their minds have fractured and broken.
At the core of their hearts it seems that these people have hardened to their own vulnerability.
They hurt others before others can hurt them.
And then there’s the group of seemingly very ordinary people with damaged hearts and minds. The problems created by that damage, are subconsciously playing out in their lives. They may never acknowledge, address or even realise that deep damage has occured.
They’ve been taught to see vulnerability as a weakness, and shout it down at every turn.
They bring heartache and pain both to themselves and those who love them, without any conscious awareness of what it is they’re doing.
It’s okay to be vulnerable
But regardless of what drives us to protect our vulnerability, ultimately we’re just trying to find a way to live a happy life.
We may not always make choices to support our happiness, and we may even make some choices which hurt ourselves or those we love. But it’s not because we’re actively seeking to do so. We often simply make an error of judgement.
In all these different ways, we learn to guard our vulnerability. Yet it’s through our vulnerability that we open ourselves to so many of the vibrant and joyful experiences life has to offer us.
We must risk ourselves!
It’s simply a matter of trust
Trust isn’t something we need to place outside of ourselves when it comes to our unfolding.
It’s trust in ourselves that’s exactly what’s needed.
Trusting ourselves to know who to share with, and when it’s safe and appropriate to share the deeper aspects of ourselves, is the only trust required.
And even then, when it comes to selecting who we should share ourselves with, grace has the answer. Anyone who is protecting their vulnerability will be closed to us and won’t allow a space for us to open fully to them.
How beautifully grace takes care of it all, for us.
The ability to be openly vulnerable offers us a pure base for clarity, grace and true strength.
So if you would like to allow the petals of your flower to open today, this blessing is for you:
May your vulnerability be your strength,
And may you trust yourself to know when to open to it fully.
With all my love
Image credit: TANAKA JUUYOH