This is for the feelers out there; the heart-led, boundary-less empath’s, indigo children, soul seekers; however it is you understand yourself. Those who have access to all emotions without needing have experienced situations themselves. Those considered outcasts, radicals, hypersensitive humans; those constantly outraged by injustice, distraught that no one around them seems to understand or feel the same. This is for those who have a desire to serve the voiceless, powerless, suffering – be it humans, animals, the earth – because you feel their pain, even through a TV. Those who feel hurt, by the world, all the time; and are subsequently told they are too deep, too sensitive or think too much.
This is for those who read or watched Brene Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” and laughed, because vulnerability has been their lived reality since their mumma gave birth to them; those who feel like they sometimes vomit vulnerability onto the world around them, for no other reason than they can’t seem to control it; those who’s issue with vulnerability is different – they’re a little too good at it.
If this sounds like you, read on.
Your life goes a little bit like this. When someone cries, you cry. When you see suffering, you suffer. You can’t watch certain films because you know the pain they create will take days to get over. You tend to find sadness more comfortable than happiness, but you can’t explain why. In conversations you see right through the bullshit and cut to the core of each person you meet, you seek to feel their deepest fears and triumphs alongside them, in a beautiful recognition of shared humanity. You’re a master connector, to all life. Connecting to other humans, animals, the earth feels like breathing to you.
If this is you, I’d like to share a couple of extremely hard won lessons with you, which I learnt on the path to becoming. My goal is to be powerful and strong, vulnerable and connected, able to serve others as best I can.
Never Apologize For Who You Are
The hardest lesson I had to learn after being told I was too deep, too sensitive, and thought too much was to stop apologizing for who I was, consciously or subconsciously. There is no power in apologizing for who you are, the minute you do it, all your power is robbed from you. Whenever I sense myself consciously or subconsciously apologizing for who I am, I like to think of the line in Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata – You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
Don’t Let Your Ego Get Involved
Learn to differentiate between that beautiful talent you have for vulnerability, and your ego. If you are hypersensitive, that’s your ego. If you have really big reactions to events, situations, people, that’s more often than not your ego. Even in the face of injustice, reaction is ego, action is not. Notice when your ego is getting involved and try to move away from it. Deep vulnerability mixed with a strong ego will take you off balance very quickly.
Learn to Create Healthy Boundaries
I used to shiver at the word boundaries. It seems cold, distant, and untruthful to me, like everything I don’t like about the world. After a while I started to see that although vulnerability helped me live a deep, beautiful, heart-felt life, it also had some seriously destructive manifestations. I loved people who were harmful to me, was often victim to my surroundings and had a huge amount of guilt around winning the race and nationality lottery when I felt so much suffering in the world.
The question I asked myself was how can I be vulnerable in a healthy and sustainable way, for me and those around me? The answer is going to be different for everyone, but here are some tools I have used.
- Daily practice: One healthy boundary is to have a daily practice that rejuvenates you each day. First you need to figure out what your natural state is, and then find something that takes you back to it each day. For me, it’s yoga and meditation, but it could also be running, swimming, the gym, journaling, soul-time.
- Practice King Energy: The King is a masculine archetype necessary in becoming a mature man in Jungian psychoanalysis. I identified the King as the archetype I needed most to counter-balance the negative manifestations of my deep vulnerability. The King symbolizes power, order, and justice which are the direct opposite of being a victim and being powerless. The King can be a healthy boundary of vulnerability if used as a symbol to aspire to when vulnerability is manifesting destructively. Sometimes life calls for The King.In my work in a domestic violence shelter, I often have conversations with victims about horrific experiences they’ve endured. And while being vulnerable is important in creating a connection, allowing your vulnerability to overcome you, when their pain is overcoming them, is not helpful to either of you. In these situations I’ve found practicing King energy most helpful.
- Find Lightness in Yourself: Instead of creating a boundary around yourself to ‘protect’ yourself from other people’s energies, I instead like to cultivate a strong lightness within myself, so when I come into contact with deep pain, I’m not thrown of balance. There’s no need to create walls between you and other people, only a need to create as much lightness as possible inside yourself, so you can be the light in their darkness.
Creating healthy boundaries for my deep vulnerability has helped me retain my power. And that feels good. Finally.