Authenticity and Vulnerability
Updated: Nov 16, 2020
It seems only right that my first blog post should be on the topic of vulnerability.
The past year has been a big learning curve for me on what it means to be vulnerable. And most importantly, the liberation to be found there.
Before this year, I could count on one hand how many times I had allowed myself to experience true vulnerability in my life.
One such occasion happened last February. I was living at the Ashram, and we were doing an exercise called “Who are you?” Which involves sitting across from another person for ten minutes, and without breaking eye contact they repeatedly ask “Who are you?”. You answer with whatever is coming forward in that moment.
As you might imagine, it's intimate.
In fact, I would argue it was one of the most intimate experiences I have ever had.
There is nowhere to hide. In that moment, under the unwavering gaze of the person sitting across from you, you’re completely exposed. No jokes or facades to hide behind. No meaningless chatter to distract.
Just you and the other person, seeing you exactly as you are.
What I noticed in my first experience of this exercise is that I was terrified to let myself be Seen in this way. I was so afraid of surrendering to that degree of vulnerability. And my body reacted in terror. I was experiencing heart palpitations, breathing rapidly. My face had flushed so red I'd have put a traffic light to shame.
I remember reflecting on how intense my reaction was... And I realized that even though my ego was terrified at the idea of allowing myself to surrender to the intimacy of the experience... another part of me, unbound by the limitations of who I thought I was supposed to be, was longing deeply for that experience. The experience of being truly witnessed. Truly seen.
And that's a really scary thing for a lot of us. Because to be truly witnessed - as we are in our most authentic truth - means letting down all of the walls we have put up in an attempt to protect ourselves from rejection and shame. It means throwing our carefully crafted, socially acceptable “mask” of who we are to the wind.
I committed myself to the exercise for the rest of the workshop. And was very pleasantly surprised. I found that when I opened myself up enough to vulnerability, to truly be witnessed, I was received in that moment with nothing but unconditional love and acceptance. And in that sacred space of complete surrender and shared vulnerability, I felt so much connection, expansion and joy. It felt like I could see the whole universe in the other persons’ eyes, and in their reflection I recognized myself.
We live in a society that has a lot of resistance to words like vulnerability and surrender. There can be so much shame and stigma attached to them. "To be vulnerable is to be weak." "To surrender is to fail or be dominated."
And yet... I have found quite the opposite. I have found that the ability to surrender to vulnerability is deeply empowering. That it takes an immense inner strength and courage. Because when we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, the message we are giving ourselves is “Hey, here I am. I’m showing up right here and now, exactly as I am without shame or need for anyone else's approval.”
That’s self love.
It’s in these moments of being truly witnessed at my most authentic - my most real - that I find a connection to something so much bigger than myself. And a sense of liberation and aliveness I know is inherently my birthright.
I am of the opinion that one of the greatest things we can do to make the world a better place is completely and shamelessly embody our most authentic selves. Our own UNIQUE expression of the greater consciousness to which we all belong.
Because in doing that, we are giving others permission to do the same.
Imagine a world where everyone feels free enough to be exactly who they are? A world where vulnerability is celebrated instead of shamed? It’s in these shared moments of vulnerability that we can recognize our own humanity. Our shared humanity.
I have found over the past year that through these experiences of vulnerability, I am beginning to understand what it means to be truly human. And what it means to truly love and be loved. What it means to be alive.
So here's to letting ourselves be Seen. To finding liberation in the moments of our greatest vulnerability. And to making the world a better place, simply by giving ourselves permission to be exactly who we are.
I couldn't imagine living my life any other way.
Until Next Time,