To Be Strong, First Allow Yourself to Be Vulnerable

I know we tend to equate strength with power.

But history has proved that the most powerful person in a country, usually its political leader, does not in any way guarantee the personal strength of the individual in that role.

Once power has been attained, in some cases, it is the ego that dominates, sometimes nakedly, often cloaked in reasonable, altruistic motives. Alongside of this is usually always a reluctance to relinquish such acquired power.

Vulnerability is a definite ‘No, No’. Any suggestion of it in the person or in his or her position is vehemently denied.

Yet time and again people who perpetuate this line are elected to high office. Why is this?

It appears that we are living in a world dominated by a one-sided view of what it means to be successful, with the emphasis on traditional ‘masculine’ qualities?

This is how strength and power is demonstrated to the world.

In fact such a powerful position very often is the antithesis of what I refer to as Natural Power.

In the system as it exists at present many people have never been encouraged to develop their own Natural Power and therefore they naturally project it on to someone else?

Someone who they perceive to be already higher up the ladder, with more money, more influence, more connections, more ego, more Self-belief?

Their choice tends to be someone who may rectify all the issues they find impossible or too difficult to address themselves?

But this is how the world is. Signs are that things are beginning to change. But how can anything ever change enough to make a difference?

It may seem counter-intuitive but what if the path to reclaiming our Natural Power would be first of all to accept our vulnerabilities.

I have experienced many joyful and fun times throughout my life. I also remember the precise moments when I was at my most vulnerable. Yet for a long time I just did not allow myself to accept it, let alone feel it.

I was aged nineteen when my mother died. It was sudden. One night she went to bed and didn’t wake up. My reaction was shock, which quickly turned to anger. In the immediate aftermath I remember being angry with everyone, especially the medical profession.

This was 1967, when treatment for depression was to prescribe medication which, of course masked the real problems. Soon the dosage was increased until the mother I had known eventually disappeared.

Throughout her decline, as the elder of two daughters, I automatically took over some of her ‘duties’, so much so, my performance at school slipped. I wanted to teach but left at sixteen to work in a nine-to-five job.

I quickly learned to be strong. I had to be strong. At least outwardly. I had witnessed first-hand what it was like to become totally helpless and I certainly wasn’t going there.

I married at 22. We had two children and during the first ten years, thankfully, they were happy and secure in our love for them.

But as I approached 32, in the space of a few months, first my father died and then we separated. Again I had to be strong for the children and simply to survive. We moved to a smaller house and, with no foresight and no-one to advise me, I chose to be financially independent.

I diverted my energies into re-training, after three years obtained a degree, then a teaching qualification. I became a lecturer in further and adult education, first part-time, later full-time.

But something happened in the third and final year of my counsellor training that began to make a difference. As a requirement of the course, in practising the skills, we had to talk about real issues. I finally told my story. I could feel some of the armour plating beginning to crack.

The following year a relationship ended suddenly and unexpectedly, the sudden loss mirroring my mother’s death. Unable to cope, I entered therapy which lasted for twelve months.

I had finally accepted the existence of my vulnerable Self and was able to grieve for the first time after twenty-seven years.

All that time I had bottled up the sadness, hurt and pain and overlaid it with being the one who always coped, was always strong.

In 1996, urged by my daughter, I took a year out and backpacked round the world on my own. I met so many wonderful people and experienced such amazing sights. It was a delayed adolescence. At the age of 48 I was balancing my life and loving it.

In 2010 I was living in France when cancer struck. Yes, I was probably at my most vulnerable at that time, but this time I accepted it fully. I could admit to being afraid, but had loving support from family and friends.

I honestly don’t think I would have survived had it not been for accepting my vulnerability. If I had been so tightly encased in my original armour of false strength with no release, I believe I may well have broken.

Have you ever been in a position where outwardly you appeared to be strong and coping with everything on your plate but inside felt at times that you were disintegrating?

What if, for the first time, you were able to accept your own vulnerable Self with its feelings of sadness, hurt, confusion, anger and fear: to be able to connect with those feelings, express them and slowly, but surely, allow your Self to come back into a natural balance.

To experience what it feels like to be mentally and emotionally strong, to embrace your Natural Power.

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Susanne Spencer

Author: admin

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