When we are most vulnerable, we are most alive, most open to all the dimensions of existence. In our vulnerability is our power. – Miriam Greenspan.
Photo Credit: www.morguefile.com by impure_with_memory
(This is the 3rd in an 8-part guest series titled “Why Catastrophe ROCKS! by Sarah Novak. The 1st post, which explores why catastrophe happens, can be found here. The 2nd about minimising suffering by changing your thoughts is here.)
The first two posts in our series were focused on understanding why adversity happens and what an empowered response to it looks like. Given that strong foundation, we’re now going to explore the upsides of adversity.
The Upsides of Adversity.
As a society, we relish the idea of control. We tell ourselves that if we just hold on tight enough to the reigns that we can prevent pain from entering our lives. Adversity, whether it comes in the form of a death, illness, job loss or something else, shatters that illusion of control and makes us painfully aware of JUST HOW VULNERABLE WE TRULY ARE.
The good news is that when we are most vulnerable, we are also most fully alive. It is then that we experience the full range of our emotions and consequently, are able to best access our creativity and resourcefulness.
Interestingly enough, increased vulnerability has a polarizing effect on relationships.
On one hand it can take a relationship to previously unimagined depths, yet it can also dissolve other relationships in an instant!
Why is that introducing vulnerability into the equation produces such a varied response in people?
To explore that question, I’ll use an example from my own life. As I mentioned in Post 1 of the Series, at the age of 25 I fell into a deep depression. Prior to that, I had been a master at maintaining a façade of perfection. I did everything that was expected of me, followed ‘the path’ and NEVER exposed my insecurities. People wanted to be me.
The problem was that I didn’t like being me anymore.
It was EXHAUSTING to maintain that level of perfection and I longed to show up more authentically in the world. The depression gave me the opportunity I was looking for to drop my façade. I began showing up exactly as I was, which included spontaneously bursting into tears, admitting how much pain I was in and even sharing that I thought my life had peaked at 25 (yes, I truly believed that!).
Let’s just say that I made more than a few people uncomfortable.
As it became clear that this “new me” was here to stay, the response was threefold:
- Some ran for the hills, not wanting anything to do with the imperfect me.
- Some invested incredible amounts of energy trying to get me to become “old me” again, to no avail. When they realized it was a lost battle, they either ran for the hills or chose to stick it out.
- The large majority adjusted to the discomfort of being around the vulnerable “new me.” They self-managed their discomfort in order to give me the time and space to uncover my new path.
Also, because of the vulnerability that I modeled, they felt more permission to be their authentic self, which led to an incredible deepening in our relationship.
The Choice is Yours.
It is important to remember that all we have control over is our own response. We cannot force someone to stay with us when we are hurting, no matter how much we may want them to. All we can do is compassionately accept what they are able to handle right now and focus our attention on the individuals who ARE ABLE to stand by our side.
A life catastrophe presents a compelling opportunity to assess the quality of the relationships in your life.
People’s responses to your increased vulnerability illuminate whether the relationship is one that you want to keep investing in or simply let go.
Despite popular beliefs to the contrary, not all relationships are meant to last a lifetime. Times of adversity provide very natural places to end the relationships that do not have a strong enough foundation to weather the storm.
The beauty of this is that by consciously ending unfulfilling relationships, it opens you up to intentionally invest in the ones you know are worthwhile!
Has this ever happened to you? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading + sharing this post 🙂
As a Cancer Coach, Sarah Novak is committed to helping female cancer survivors use their experience as a catalyst for transformation in their lives. Although we cannot control our circumstances, we CAN always decide how we choose to be with our reality. Visit www.coachsarahnovak.com to learn about her private and group coaching programs + receive her free guide: “Coping with the Everyday Fears of Cancer: How to Minimize Fear and Anxiety by Transforming Your Thoughts.”
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