The heart of vulnerability
One of the most profound quotes that I have ever heard was “your greatest strength lies within your vulnerability.” When I heard this for the first time I couldn’t understand it because I grew up in a house filled with 4 boys and went to an all-boys school where being manly and macho was the natural order of the day.
How can anyone say something like that?, I kept asking myself. Over and over again this thought played out in my head. My curiosity was getting the better of me and I just wanted to figure this out, what does that mean and where does that come from but most importantly, how can your greatest strength lie within your vulnerability?
I went through numerous files in my head of past experiences which led to me seeing that the only time anyone showed any form of vulnerability in my earlier years was when a fellow border at my boarding school was homesick and started to cry or when someone had their heart ripped to shreds by the love of their life.
Certainly being homesick was no way of showing vulnerability because this was highly unacceptable in a boys school, when that would happen one got laughed at and ridiculed for the longest period of time. He was called a “sissy” and many of the guys taunted him by saying demoralizing things. I also found myself in several situations where I had to hide my pain and vulnerability.
I recall that guys who were in higher grades would often walk around and punch me in the arm then laugh whilst saying “take it like a man don’t rub it.” Experiences like that taught me that I should never reveal my true emotions and the only emotions that were allowed as a man were that of being a strong man who has everything under control.
Growing up being heart broken by the many girls that one falls in love or best described as infatuation in those younger days, seemed to be the order of the day. I remember looking up to the seniors in my school and hearing of stories of how a girl broke up with them but within a few days they later they were in another relationship. This of course meant that there was no time to process the emotions and deal with whatever was going on in their lives, the easiest way to get over it was move on from it.
As an adult I was still plagued by the question so I decided to explore further. I found myself in a workshop where I was the youngest guy in a room filled with much older individuals who were curious about the same topic. The workshop was all about discovering who you are and gaining a better understanding of how you operate within the world.
As the day began the person who was running the workshop started off by saying the following words, “becoming vulnerable allows you to experience a deeper connection with self, others and all that is.” I was excited by the thought getting to understand myself better and was hoping that I could finally uncover my strength in my vulnerability. He took us through various exercises and explained that the body is the most incredible technology that stores emotions, it has the most powerful way to release and resolve whatever that it stores.
We went through various breathing exercise that showed exactly what he was talking about and eventually he said now it’s time to go into the space of vulnerability. At that moment my face lit up, I knew that I was in a safe space where I was allowed and allowing myself to explore my vulnerability, I had no idea what the outcome would be and to be honest I was a little nervous at the thought of meeting my vulnerable side.
We started with an exercised that took us back into a time where we felt rejection or pain and suppressed it. I immediately found myself in a younger version of myself at boarding school where I was deeply hurt by the other boys but could not tell them. I could hear the conversations around me and I felt the ridicule all over again.
He then gently guided me to moments after that and said “ that is where your strength lies, when you are open, broken with nothing left to fight for, you see the power lies in those moments when you have nothing to hide or defend, you are naked and open. In those moments you are able to connect with the highest version of yourself and be guided towards your strength.
He went on to explain that, these moments are so defining in one’s life because they cause us to one day realise that true strength lies within the moments of our weakness. The moment when we are in a corner and let go of all our defense mechanism, here lies the greatest capacity to overcome and become. The moments of great pain later become our greatest teachers because if we can overcome this then we develop a sense of resilience that helps us to persist towards realising our highest potential.
His words touched a deep spot within me, I sat there and thought about all the moments of pain, struggle and frustration in my life. It was like a rollercoaster of emotions but in the end all I could remember was this deep voice telling me that its OK and that I was greater than this and capable of so much more and that my pain, anger and frustration would one day become the antidote for someone else’s troubles and struggles.
I now begun to understand that allowing yourself to be vulnerable during moments of pain, anger, frustration and disappointment can be one of the most powerful ways to transform yourself and any situation because this allows you to tap into the inner strength, courage and wisdom that resides within you. When the tears dry up and the scars mend you begin to understand the most sacred of all of life’s teachings lies within vulnerability. The sacred act of vulnerability is the space where transformation occurs because at that moment you open yourself up to something greater than yourself.
The journey with vulnerability has taught me many things not only about myself but others too. I learnt that allowing yourself to be vulnerable can connect you to your inner wisdom and higher spiritual self. The greater intelligent wisdom within you reaches out when you are vulnerable and open because at this moment you let go of all your preconceived notions of what it should be and in those moments the answers we always seek willingly express themselves if we ask and stay open.