Vulnerability – The Unchartered Territory in All of Us
By Emma Taylor
Feeling vulnerable and exploring our vulnerability has become part of the Soul Mama (www.facebook.com/soulmamaroma) experience. I have found that connecting with others around those parts of our life that we feel vulnerable about is incredibly empowering. If we can share those parts of ourselves or our experiences that make us cringe or hang our heads in shame, then we can move beyond them. If we hold them inside and keep them hidden, they cast a shadow over our lives. In the words of shame researcher, Brené Brown (http://brenebrown.com), shame loves silence. Shame can’t survive when surrounded by acceptance and love.
The culture we live in does not provide many opportunities for people to openly share about those parts of ourselves we find unacceptable or shameful in some way. Most of us do not even know that we disown those parts of ourselves until life’s experiences give us cause to reflect, until there is a bump in the road. The bump in the road throw’s us into chaos, turns our world upside down and when we find our feet again the way we are in the world is different. We are deeper, more compassionate and more open because of our struggles.
Most of my bumps in the road have had to do with having and raising a family. Many, many women experience a bumpy ride at this time in their lives and I am constantly inspired by how women cope at these times. I am not a great ‘coper’. I am more of a curl up in a ball and wish this would go away type of person. I am still finding my strength, learning to trust myself and facing my fears. I imagine it will be a life long journey and I am starting to accept that. I am letting go of the fantasy that we conquer something and then move on to bigger and better things. Growing to accept all of who we are is a messy business and it takes time. It is a two steps forward, one step back type of proposition.
The one standout thing that riding the bumps has taught me is that I do have some control over how I ride them. There are things that I can do to make the journey easier. For some they are a natural response to dealing with difficulty but to me they are strategies that have had to be learnt. I have had to overcome my default settings of self-criticism, avoidance and internalising to face what I am feeling and to share it with others. Each time, it takes me out of my comfort zone and each time I am rewarded with a sense of empowerment and connectedness. Those rewards are precious.
We are all uniquely complex but our common humanity means we are more the same than we are different. It is easy to lose sight of this when we are facing difficult times and feeling lonely and isolated. Consciously connecting to our inner resources through mindful breathing and connecting to the bigger universe through simple prayer or intentions, are daily practices that help me to live a love-full life. Connecting to others in a meaningful way is also essential to my well-being. Soul Mama is part of that connection. I feel very blessed to have found others who are willing to be vulnerable in the safe sacred space of a Soul Mama gathering once a month. I feel very blessed to be encouraged by others in the public domain of Facebook. For many of us, being open, honest and vulnerable is unchartered territory. If you feel a calling to explore this new territory in your life, it would be wonderful to hear from you.
Best wishes to you all, Emma Taylor.
Some great Mental Health Resources :