TL;DR: Being vulnerable is a doorway to great strength. We must fully experience weakness to become stronger. Pretending to be strong is the lowest form of weakness. We must trust what is real and release our reliance on the unreal. Life is not a safe space for clinging to illusions. The Real is not a safe space for the Unreal. Real strength comes from fully allowing what is and acknowledging weakness, which is only the beautiful release of needing to pretend to be strong.
As scary as it might seem, being vulnerable is a doorway that leads to great strength. Such a sentence, at first, can appear quite backward or inconceivable. How could it be that if I allow what appears to be weak within me, it draws me closer to being strong?
To illustrate, if you want a muscle to be stronger, you must allow yourself to fully experience the weakness of that muscle. The more you ‘get in touch’ with the weakness of a muscle, the stronger it becomes.
Interestingly, if you judge yourself in a state of weakness, you will avoid the experience of exploring the weakness, which clearly means you won’t get stronger.
For myself, I can see this tendency to “not want to see” how weak I am. Why? Because there’s a judgment for that weakness. Because of this, the tendency would be to avoid situations that expose that weakness, which also means I avoid opportunities to get stronger.
In the avoidance of the weakness, which is really to avoid my self-judgment, there’s the attempt to “appear” strong, but it’s only a facade. Pretending to be strong is not strength at all; in fact, it’s the lowest form of weakness. I say “lowest” because it’s divorced from authenticity, from reality.
As it relates to the spiritual development of being human, we are learning to trust what is real and to release our reliance on the unreal (the imagination of who we think we are). This development, this strength, comes by getting in touch with the genuine vulnerability that comes with being human.
If I examine my human vulnerability, I see a fear of losing what I’m holding on to, and what I’m holding on to… are the unreal aspects of what I am. I am, innocently and understandably, holding on to illusions that don’t truly support the reality of what I am. I’m confused about what’s real. As I get in touch with this vulnerability, as I release it to be seen, I allow myself to see beyond it.
What I find to be beautiful is the transformation that has come over time, where I was so concerned about what other people thought about me, to allow myself to explore what I thought about me. The twisted reality here is that I was hiding from what I thought about myself by trying to manipulate how other people saw me. I assumed that… “If it looks like other people like me, then I can like myself.” Comically, this was trying to set up a life where I could maintain a sense of hiding, hiding behind other people.
Yet, hiding is hiding. The more I endeavored to hide, the more it reinforced a belief in what I was hiding from. The more I attempted to hide from my weakness, the more it fundamentally proclaimed that I was weak.
Hiding from my weakness is not hiding at all. It’s merely a distraction that avoids the inevitable meeting with reality. Hiding from myself, is as silly as standing in a bright light and closing my eyes, thinking the light cannot see me because I refuse to look.
I cannot hide from reality; I can only pretend to hide, which is also like pretending I’m strong.
Naturally, in our human journey, because of the many confusions and interpersonal challenges, we develop the assumption that it’s not safe to be vulnerable. Only to eventually discover, we must come home to being vulnerable. Of course, it’s the many challenges we go through, where our illusions get destroyed, that invite us to discover something more real and reliable within the heart of what we are.
I guess, in a manner of speaking, it’s not safe to be vulnerable, but it’s only NOT safe for the unreal parts of myself. Life is not a safe space for clinging to my illusions. Life is not a safe space for my ego. What is Real is not a safe space for the Unreal. This has been the challenge all along, desperately trying to survive the illusion of what I am in a reality that isn’t necessarily concerned about the illusion of what I am. Life cares deeply for the reality of what I am.
This mirrors something profound. It shows me that I cared more about the illusion of myself rather than the reality of myself. I cared more about pretending to be strong rather than honoring the sincerity and reality of my human experience. I avoided being deeply in touch with my humanness because it threatened the illusion I was trying to hold up to the world. This, of course, only resulted in the heaviest of burdens to maintain, which only further separated myself from… a beautiful reality; a beautiful truth that fully embraced all parts of what I am.
In truth, I didn’t have to hide; even though I was allowed to try. In truth, I didn’t have to pretend; even though I could.
Real strength, for me, is in realizing that I can fully allow what is; I can trust what is real, authentic, here and now. I can trust the reality of life. Real strength is understanding the power of acknowledging my weakness, which is only the beautiful release of needing to ‘pretend’ that I’m strong.
I guess, in summary, I am neither my idea of being weak, nor my idea of being strong. I am the totality of it all, and this totality is fundamentally a dance between the two that unavoidably leads toward a beautiful expansion.
So, I surrender, and fully embrace whatever is showing; knowing it’s perfectly placed.