Embracing softness in the face of adversity.
Many of us tense against the adversities blowing us off our planned trajectories—the flat tires, the breakups, the diagnoses that come out of nowhere and thwart the best laid plans. We resist these things until we have no other choice but to stare down the barrel confronting us. This is our way of protecting ourselves, creating a shield between our most tender selves and the outside world.
We all come into life the same way, soft, open to the wonders of the world. With time we accumulate a potpourri of wounds that make us move through life more cautious than before, aware of the pain that can come of leading with an open heart.
This instinct, while being an effective way to protect ourselves from pain, also hinders vulnerability. Vulnerability is the hub of a buoyant, connected, fully expressed life. In the words of Brenè Brown:
"Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for our worthiness, but it appears that it's also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love."
Everything out there that poses a threat to the protective wall we've enshrouded ourselves with is the wind whipping through a lake, sending currents through an otherwise still body of water. Humans resent the wind, we resent anything that threatens our illusion of control over circumstances that are clearly beyond our reach, anything that exposes us as something other than the stoic facades we present with.
What if instead of hardening to our circumstances, we softened, letting ourselves bob and weave with the wind? Folded into the most raucous of storms is an opportunity for connection, expansion, wisdom. When we soften, we are more receptive to the lessons that these experiences have to offer us. We emerge from adversity with an ability to both handle more than we thought we were capable of and to empathize with others who are navigating tough times of their own.
The things we do in an attempt to gain a sense of control over the uncontrollable keep us hard. Leading with vulnerability is surrendering to life in all of its blustery excellence. Showing up when we can't control the outcome. Reaching out when our efforts may not be returned. Bowing to the storm when we might be swept away.