Wow! The enormous, clarifying energy of this year has had me pinned down and almost immobilized over the past few weeks. I don't know for sure what is coming but it feels HUGE! As always, this discomfort has led to new insights and personal truths. There's lots of time for reflection when you're under the thumb of a big shift!
One area of new awareness for me is in realizing how blind I have been to my own cries for help. I also recognize how my fierce independence, which has served to strengthen my resilience in the past, has also been a defense. In this way it actually threatens my authentic resilience...an open heart.
I was so busy being strong and independant, I didn't notice that I was terrified. More on this below if you're interested.
Asking for help feels deeply uncomfortable for me. I will struggle and suffer in silence for way too long just to avoid the vulnerability I feel in reaching out. When I look into this more deeply, I notice two things: judgement of my own perceived weakness, and fear of rejection by the one I'm asking help from.
We all have needs; some of them are met, some of the time. The ones that are not met either transform into our own resourcefulness, confidence and creativity, or they are pushed into the subconscious realm of the body and mind. Here they sit like festering wounds waiting for a soothing balm. We learn to defend them and dance around them and we call this "growing up". A word used in psychology circles to describe this defensive dance is "ego". And we all have one...unless you are completely self-realized or enlightened...which I most certainly am not.
My ego definitely has strength, which won't be news to you if you've ever accidentally pushed the button on one of my subconscious unmet needs, or seen me on my obsessive and determined path to achieve something. This strength is a double-edged sword. On the one hand I'm very grateful for my ego's pure drive for survival. It has pulled me through some challenging times, and continues to do so. On the other hand, it will keep me believing that every unmet need in my life is about a fight for life. Essentially, unchecked, it will keep me in fear and closed off to feeling loved, supported and seen. My ego thinks it's weak to ask for help and that I should be able to do it all on my own. It's lonely and hard here in this place!
So what is the antidote to a wild and defensive ego, constantly charging into battle to protect the wounds of the unmet needs? Ironically, it's the thing it is least likely to be aware it needs, be receptive to or ask for: help and support.
So gently and with a pace all my own, I'm practicing the art of recognizing when I'm “being strong" and am actually in need of help, asking for it, and then receiving it. I'm feeling through all of the pain, shame and discomfort that arises through this ego-humbling. I'm feeling that deeper, open-hearted, undefended inner strength that feels something like power.
Can you relate with this shifting perception of strength?
I love this quote by Jeff Brown. What I have called strength, he calls willfulness. I can see this.
We are powerful beyond measure, and so deeply vulnerable at the same time. This may seem like a dichotomy, but it isn’t. We have misunderstood real power. It has been something assertive, non-surrendering, pushing on through. This is not real power. This is simply willfulness. Real power is something else- receptivity, open-ness, the courage to keep your heart open on the darkest of days, the strength to feel it all even when the odds are stacked against you. Real power is showing up with your heart on your sleeve and absolutely refusing to waste one moment of your life hidden behind edginess and armour. The art of enheartened presence. Now that’s power. ~Jeff Brown