Over the past several years, I’ve needed to get really good at owning my, well… owning my s#!t. Not only so that I can help my clients own theirs, but so that I can be a happier, healthier, more well-adjust human being. That’s the plan anyway. Whether that certain brand of personal baggage looks like pain or anger, personal shadows or the gut-wrenching fear of a broken heart, I’ve had to work on embracing it all. I have to own my faults, my imperfections and the fact that no matter how hard I try, my body will never look Gisele Bundchen’s. But there’s more than meets the eye here. It’s more than surging bravely forward into the gaping maw of an uncertain world. It’s all about accepting these “flaws” as my own and really, truly understanding that I am not perfect and in that realization comes liberation. Which is strange, right? To admit imperfection and flaws makes ones vulnerable. But there is real, appreciable personal freedom in understanding and embracing one’s own vulnerabilities. It comes with a sense of profound personal power.
I know that some of you are reading this and thinking, “Heather, dear, how is vulnerability powerful?” That sure does sound like a conundrum, especially from the conventional standpoint that revealing ones vulnerability somehow relinquishes power. Why show weakness to someone who might abuse it? However, by embracing vulnerability, you are acknowledging, even loving, the pieces of yourself that are imperfect or scary or crazy or broken. You ultimately own it all. No one can use those “imperfect” pieces to extort your emotions or shame you or exert power over you. It’s all yours.
When we don’t embrace these pieces of ourselves, we are ultimately denying ourselves love. In the context of external relationships, we end up offering only small portions of who we really are. This creates a provisional relationship, one in which the best we can hope for is to survive on the scraps of love that others can show us. After all, how can someone else love us completely if we can’t love ourselves? This externalizes both our love and our power until we are literally giving our power away – selling to the lowest bidder. We withhold, so they withhold; this creates a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum, so we find ourselves compromising and giving in just to feel loved. We fill that void with nonsense until we are so disempowered, we would do anything to feel safe, whole and loved. But what if we just stopped running from the darkness just for a moment? This is counterintuitive to most people; but embracing your faults and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is the greatest source of personal power you can choose.
This is not an easy process. To voluntarily look at darkness in another person is terrifying, let alone when we look at it within ourselves. So start where you are. Start small. The next time you find yourself in the midst of self-critique, stop and stare. What is that? Who’s in there? Can that “flawed” piece of you be loved? The truth – the answer – is, yes.