by Kate Greenaway, BaAppSc (Physiotherapy), Goonellabah, Australia
The other week I had one of those Stop and Take Notice moments. I was walking around the local swimming pool to the women’s showers in my wet bathers, after having a lovely time in the pool. I was a bit cold and one of the males on staff was walking towards me. I had spoken to this man before and I knew him to be sensitive, sweet and completely harmless. I could feel he was going to look at me as we passed and all of a sudden I was feeling extremely vulnerable – my body went into an old pattern of pulling my shoulders inwards and caving my chest in – like I did when I was a teenager at the beach in my swimmers walking past men who stared at my breasts. You see, even though I have a petite frame, I had really large breasts as a teenager and I used to get awful, sexual comments from boys my age, AND older men. Being a curvaceous young woman was agony for me so I used to hide my body in large shirts. I thought I had moved through this and healed those self -conscious years, so I was shocked to feel this in my body now – in my late 40’s and feeling mostly content with my body.
As I walked towards this man I could feel how important it was to stay open to him, meet his eyes and be as open as I could be. It took a lot, but I did this and we smiled and it was an innocent moment of two people meeting each other; he was as sweet and harmless as he had been every other time. At that moment I knew that if I had shut down and looked away from him it would have been a clear message of rejection to him… and who knows how he would have felt about himself.
As I felt more into this moment I knew it was clearly a choice to shut down or stay open to a) what I was feeling, and to b) that man just doing his job.
I learnt so much from that moment.
I learnt that letting myself feel vulnerable gave me a greater understanding of me and what was still affecting how I felt about my body. I also learnt how our unresolved issues can strongly affect any meeting of another person (whether by a look or a body gesture), and in this case especially, between a woman and a man. This moment allowed me to feel just how many times in the past I would have given men the wrong message, where in fact it had nothing to do with them. This felt pretty ugly, but it gave me a greater awareness and understanding about the unnecessary complexities we can bring to our relationships.
The next week I had almost the same situation – after a swim in the local pool – this time walking past a younger man, who was also on staff. As I passed him I had no shrinking in my body and it was far easier to meet his eyes and smile openly – I felt quite solid and it felt like I could have been walking past anyone fully clothed. I had a greater appreciation of myself in that moment, and in my growing strength to choose to stay open to others, no matter what the situation. A very wise woman said to me recently: “if you let yourself feel the hurt or the vulnerability it passes, but it’s a gift at the same time, as you grow so much from it”. It was this wisdom and my choices that supported me in those moments and allowed me to feel in my body how true her words were.
1,131 thoughts on “A Vulnerable Moment”
This reminds me that we are feeling ALL the time. Sometimes I harden myself trying to shut down a feeling, when in fact, I’m actually feeling the hardness whilst in the illusion that I’m not feeling. I can’t avoid feeling, but with that choice of hardening I separate myself from others and me and this is very hurting. Coming back to my vulnerability is sometimes far more uncomfortable and confronting, but it feels more real, honest, close and when I allow it, this feels very humbling and healing. Indeed when I let my body to be melt in its vulnerability, I’m actually embracing myself in full.
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is an alignment to soul, hardening up and pretending that we’re ok is an alignment away from soul. In any given moment we’re all either aligning to soul or we’re not and it is for us to break everything down into one of these two categories and to basically end up choosing to align to soul constantly.
For me vulnerability and truth go hand in hand and just this morning I got to feel that when I allowed myself to stay with the feeling of vulnerability that came up in my body it revealed something that felt very precious, a little bit like a jewel that had been buried for eons and in I can still feel it now many hours later.
I have come to absolutely love the feeling of being vulnerable, it’s so tender, so real and so raw. I can also feel the potential expansion that exists in moments of vulnerability even though I am also aware that there is still a part of me that wants to resist surrendering fully to what’s being offered.
When we honour our vulnerability there is nothing to hide.
I’m reading this after having my own vulnerable moment this morning. Clocking it and allowing it to be there, allowing myself to feel it and let whats underneath it come to the surface has helped clear a buried hurt that would otherwise dictate my choices in the background without my awareness.
The blame culture towards women in regards to sexual comments been thrown at us is strong, so strong that many women cave into it and actually believe that they are the reason for their sexual abuse. Whenever I see a man coming towards me with impure intent, I often think it’s my fault. Was I giving him any signals that he is okay to do that, was i calling it in in any shape or form, or did I move in a way which asked for him to do it. But whether that is true or not, does it excuse vile acts forced upon women? Does it excuse the bottom grabbing, the looks up and down & sexual comments? Is it okay for men to have sexual fantasies about their co-workers, friends & strangers on the street? We have fallen so far away from responsibility that decency & respect are not even on our radar.
Who are we when we shy away?
Standing out, shining, claiming our natural beauty is hard for many yet a blessing for all when we do.
It’s great to be aware of the physical changes that happen in our bodies and be honest about when and why we shut down.
A hallmark of the spirit is it’s speed to mindlessly react. Letting ourselves feel life and observe allows the soul to guide our next move.
I just love how our bodies tell us exactly what is going on within us. If we listen to the body everything changes.
Kate I have to say I often think of this blog when walking around the swimming pool, its super obvious now when I contract – staying with the loveliness we are has got to be the only true way forward.
How sad that we have a society where anyone would be afraid of another or feel the need to contract.
“I also learnt how our unresolved issues can strongly affect any meeting of another person (whether by a look or a body gesture), and in this case especially, between a woman and a man” – so true Kate, through each other we see and learn so much about our own selves. Without others, we simply would not evolve.
The words ‘stay open’ when lived in day to day life, are a powerful support to maximise our opportunities to learn – about ourselves and everything that goes on around us.
we are so much in control of how open we are with others, and the more we are ourselves, the more others are themselves. So it is actually a responsibility for us to not hold back how we truly feel.
When we allow ourselves to feel our hurts without condemnation and judgment there is a possibility of alchemy and more understanding where we do not have to stay trapped in reactions forever more.
Feeling through my hurts has supported me to become much more open, transparent and at ease in my relationships. I actually want to learn and grow rather than micro control everything so long carried hurts do not get exposed.
It certainly is a vulnerable moment to have your body ‘on show’ knowing full well what men are exposed to with images of how women are portrayed. The fact that women give their power away to these thoughts maybe have something to do with allowing it to be. As Kate as proved, and there is much to appreciate here, the power is in feeling the vulnerability.
My vulnerability highlights where there is more to read and feel into life. Because often if I feel how to be in the moment I open up, if I react, close down and think about being somewhere else or focused on a perceived mental image of what the other could/might/will do then I am not feeling anything that is truly going on in that moment. I do not relate to others clearly.
Being vulnerable allows and enables one to be truthful and honest.
I love this blog and returning to it as it made quite a impact on me to remember and i am really embracing the beauty within on allowing myself to feel and accept my vulnerability and be more open and responsive to others and the feeling of warmth this allows in my body.
Vulnerability equals access. When someone is vulnerable then it means that the walls are down and we have access to their precious selves. It really is a very divine state and one that needs to be honoured by all.
The body is a great reflection in how we are and when we contract and shutdown or express all of who we are its just weather or not we are connected to what the body is showing us or not and how we are feeling. I never used to think or feel I had my shoulders rolled over but once I started to connect to my inner being and feel the Love in my chest I have seen and felt my chest expand and my shoulders roll back. When we are vulnerable our instinct reaction tells us to protect but saying no to this and remaining open is exactly how we can heal such patterns.
I notice how much more open and willing I am to be vulnerable and willing to connect with people since I started to heal old hurts and learn to be more myself. The more open and deeply connected I am to myself, the more open am with others.
When we let go of the protection we realise that we do in fact love deeply and it does not matter what the person or people present as an outer layer, you know without a doubt none of that matters and you know who they are in truth.
So true Julie, I notice letting go of protection has played a huge part in my relationships with people. It is incredible how this works when we know who we are we are much more open to meeting people for who they are too.
Super simple and powerfully confirming of the quality we all are made of… love.
Its funny that most of us in society have a problem with being seen in our loveliness, its a fact we hide away in many differing guises in order not to shine.
This world desperately needs people who are not afraid to shine
Divinity is our origins and to choose not to shine is denial of the love we all naturally are.
So true Sam, and we have to get used to shining because this is why we are here, to shine to the world who we are in our full divine and beauty-full essence.
The interesting thing is that shrinking away from attention is asking to be objectified as you are not there in full to meet the other.
A real experience of learning to honour and appreciate ourselves in every day situations that is so important in life to reflect to others who we are in our openness and truth for all to see.
It is always important to appreciate ourselves, ‘I had a greater appreciation of myself in that moment, and in my growing strength to choose to stay open to others, no matter what the situation.’
Let ourselves feel the hurt in that moment, and it passes, and offers a gift of a further growth for us as I let go another hurt … that is so supportive to read today.
It can feel horrible to feel the hurt but then I asked myself after reading this blog: How caring of and to myself is it to shy away from the hurt and go into reactions that only further hurt myself and others? It’s far more loving to feel the hurt and let it pass.
How easy is it to close off from people, to shut down our guard and live in protection. But how freeing, how amazing would it be to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and to be sensitive. Not sensitive in the dramatic, constantly crying kind of way, but sensitive in acknowledging what we are feeling, sensitive to what is being communicated to us on a subtle level from those around us. This would make life so much more worth living!
“This moment allowed me to feel just how many times in the past I would have given men the wrong message, where in fact it had nothing to do with them.” This really inspires me to look at my crap, because how many times does what’s going on with me make other people think there’s something wrong with them. Every time I feel insecure or hold back – how many times are people interpreting that as it being their problem rather than mine? It’s interesting to really deeply consider just how much everything we do is either confirming to someone how amazing they are or the opposite.
I can remember so many of those ‘vulnerable moments’ as a young girl growing up and looking back I can feel how each time I would shrink a little further into myself. And of course, as I did I was simply hiding myself from all those around me just in case there was another one of those moments. Coming to understand that ‘if you let yourself feel the hurt or the vulnerability it passes’ felt so liberating, allowing me to begin to blossom again as I reclaimed the beautiful young woman I was.
Real beauty is all about sharing who we really are – not hiding not contracting but instead allowing our light to shine. Being open and transparent with others is super super attractive.
It is great to be reminded of how every choice we make impacts on another. My choice to protect or close of can truly hurt an other in it’s rejection and os we make the world go round from one hurt to the next protection and so on. What you share Kate is how we can brake this chain by letting go of our hurts and being willing to be open and vulnerable with everyone we meet.
It’s so true Carolien, we’re all walking around constantly reacting to each other’s reactions and then passing our reactions onto others. It’s an ingrained horrible chain of events and one that happening all of the time to pretty much all of us. There’s no traceable starting point and no perceivable end point either, it just keeps feeding off itself and multiplying.
The more we are willing to surrender in a vulnerable moment the more we are offered to heal. Although it feels so raw at the time that power to allow this to be is what brings through true unfoldment from within.
This is a great example of how we do not keep our focus on ourselves, but on what and how other people are feeling. We are scared of being judged more than we are willing to stay present with ourselves. if we are present there is no room for doubt of any kind.
This has made me ponder on how many men must get met with a shut off woman who is in some way blaming him for the harm caused by other men that he had nothing to do with.
I am understanding this too, Elizabeth… it is in staying open and vulnerable that we learn and deepen and, whilst I still carry the patterns of protection and withdrawal, it is less and less so and my choice to stay open is stronger and stronger.
Thank you, Kate. Not shrinking away from ourselves in interactions with others has some very remarkable and inspiring effects.
No wonder we have so many issues with relationships when even the shortest interaction can be laced with multiple past encounters. I often think of this blog when I walk past people in the street and there is a reluctance from the other person to have eye contact. I remain open and have many lovely confirming encounters as I go about my day but am aware that there are always deeper levels to expose of where I am less comfortable showing my vulnerability. Thanks for the inspiration Kate and the opportunity to reflect a different way to be.
It is so true that when we shut down the other person feels it which highlights how freeing staying open is not just for us but everyone we meet.
We can learn so much in a moment if we remain open and stay feeling, as you did in this situation Kate, ‘As I felt more into this moment I knew it was clearly a choice to shut down or stay open to a) what I was feeling, and to b) that man just doing his job’.
What a beautiful understanding and reflection in what you share in this blog, ‘I learnt that letting myself feel vulnerable gave me a greater understanding of me and what was still affecting how I felt about my body.’
I can relate to this, I was always so ashamed of my body that I would always hide my body. I realised this recent Summer as I walked around the pool with swimmers on when we had people there and I wasn’t hiding my body- how things had changed dramatically for me. It wasn’t through trying, it was just that I had more ease with myself and am not hiding myself as much anymore.
I often think of your blog Kate when I start to feel myself shrinking in front of others, it reminds me Kate that there is really no reason to make ourselves less.
Seeing another not shrink is super inspiring -Shine and the world shines with us.
I know this shrinking feeling so well, thank you Kate for sharing your experiences here. How healing it is, just to stay with what we can feel, no matter how uncomfortable: it passes, and we get to learn, grow and deepen our relationships – with ourselves and all others.