Because my ‘thing’ is teaching/coaching Spiritual and Personal Development (of which forgiveness is a huge part), from time to time I take myself off for some proper Personal Development of my own. (Huna and the trips to Hawaii deal with the Spiritual side). So I just spent 3 days at the first Joanna Martin Be The Change/Lead The Change seminars. Each day, some deep, unconscious habit or belief or pattern surfaced itself so I could enjoy a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth and let it go, but the one that had me most perplexed was a vulnerability exercise.
A friend of mine keeps telling me to be more vulnerable and show my vulnerable side. I’ve come a long way in the vulnerability stakes in the last 15 years or so, so I tend to be puzzled about what more there might be, and he can’t explain to me in a way that I can understand what this vulnerability thing looks like. So when a ‘show your vulnerability’ exercise was introduced on day 3 of the Seminar, I thought ‘this will be interesting’. And so it was.
Basically it involved standing in front of a small group and saying something in a vulnerable way to the group would ‘get’ your vulnerability. I knew they wouldn’t get me immediately, so I was easy when they didn’t, and then they still didn’t…and they STILL didn’t.
I tried all all the trainers tricks I could think of – sending out an energetic hug, pulling my energy right back in, consciously coming from the heart chakra, playing with the way I projected my voice, changing my posture. Nada.
And this went on, and on, and on. It was painful, obviously, and puzzling too, because, while I know that the ability to show my own vulnerability is incredibly important, particularly given what I do for a living, when I have to think about it, I can’t. Obviously when you’re thinking about it you’re not being totally vulnerable. There’s also an interesting balance between being vulnerable and not taking on my clients’ baggage. Having love and compassion for them, but not letting their sadness (or whatever) become mine.
I also had to consider whether I’ve forgiven myself for having done the clinical depression thing. Consciously, there isn’t much I need to forgive myself for – I deal with it as it comes up. Unconsciously, I know there is plenty of stuff, which I will deal with when it does come up. And depression? I knew I’d forgiven myself for that when I volunteered to let the BBC do a little video of me talking about how Huna and my spiritual journey got me over depression for their website about 10 years ago. I’m still incredibly proud of myself for doing that, because back in the ’90s, I was so ashamed of being depressed there was no way I could tell anyone, not even close friends, let alone the BBC!
But I’m really curious about what we actually mean by vulnerability – what it looks, sounds and feels like, how you know you’re in that space. More to come on this, I feel!
Incidentally, one of the best writers and speakers on vulnerability that I have come across is Brené Brown. TED taks, youtube, books…well worth checking her out.