Resilience: Daring to be Vulnerable
© Diana Simumpande
One silver-lining of the corona-cloud has been the rise of virtual gatherings. Our ‘Coffee Morning Live’ meetings have helped us continue to not only cope with but rise above recent challenges and shine a new light onto the post-lockdown version of life.
The truth is that we first and foremost live within ourselves, and we radiate out from that, hopefully in a benevolent way. At a time when the whole world is going through a transformation, it seems even more important to ask the question ‘how am I transforming?’
Our Coffee Morning participants all agreed that the following practices are a baseline for being a beacon of light during these times:
- Believe in, nurture and be kind to yourself.
- Align from the inside out, not the outside in. Feel into yourself and let your life adapt to your inner climate as opposed to taking your clues from what’s around you and adapting to that.
- Trust in your strength, instinct, compassion and ability.
- Abandon fear – however hard it seems – and turn down the naysayers.
In addition, we all agreed that sometimes ‘it is okay to not be okay.’ This statement, to me, prepares the ground for a real dip into vulnerability. Especially within the business community, where the old paradigm dictates that ‘thou shall not exhibit any weakness’ and where showing oneself to be vulnerable is still much frowned at. So, let me put this out there: vulnerability is a key skill and strength to have, especially in these chaotic and fast-changing times.
Vulnerability and resilience are two sides of one coin
Coming across as knowing it all and being able to do it all is not what brings success or happiness. Rather it is admitting you are vulnerable, because this allows you to actually fully own your own experience. This admission leads to a state of no-resistance and will allow you to move with the experiences or challenges you face, which means that you can adapt to them and grow from them. That, my friends, is resilience!
Women, especially, need to allow themselves to be vulnerable as we are far too conditioned to be strong for others. Looking at the differences between girls and boys, it becomes evident how such patterns are implanted. From an early age, many (most?) girls seem to exhibit a natural capacity for sacrifice and are encouraged to do this for the benefit of others with a smile and without complaint. In a sense, they are taught that their own struggles don’t count as they set out to nurture the world.
In the business world, male structures reign and vulnerability is most commonly equated with weakness. Many a woman can tell how they have covered up their natural way of being and communicating in order to remain and advance in business.
However, if we don’t allow our vulnerability to show, we face the prospect of problems down the line. In an effort to stay ‘strong and firm’ we are likely to eventually reach a breaking point at which point our resilience goes out the door.
In short, in order to be resilient we have to keep healthy bodies, minds and souls, and vulnerability is an excellent tool for that. This is because to be vulnerable is to accept what ‘is’ rather than to try to live up to an idea of what ‘should be’.
Vulnerability is our nature
To be resilient, we need to be adaptable. Just as in every part of nature itself, adaptability in business is one of the most important tools for survival. If there is a storm, the branches of a tree bend with the wind until the wind dies down. The same goes for the kind of leadership that leads to success. If we can flow with what is pushing us, bend with it rather than stand rigid in its way, we will prove ourselves more resilient.
As children, we follow this instinct naturally. If we fall down, we quickly pick ourselves back up. As adults, however, we tend to get stuck in ideas of failure and negative self-talk. We remain on the ground, so to speak.
We need to recapture that innocent spirit and allow ourselves to get up again if we fall, brushing ourselves down rather than dwelling on the experience of our failure.
What is a failure anyway? As one Coffee Morning participant, Sarah Camilleri, Founding editor of European Spa magazine, put it:
“Failure helps us build resilience, because we can learn from it. Actually, some of our best work can follow failure if we let it supercharge us instead of break us. We need to remember that we can always do things differently, we can change directions, and each failure provides us with a board to spring from.”
The child doesn’t look at falling down as a failure. It is just a part of the process learning and evolving. It can even be fun! When does this change? Perhaps how we react to our failures is something we should all think about. After all, it could be that by judging ourselves too harshly, we also judge others so.
Wouldn’t it be great if, in school, adolescents were taught that it’s more than okay to fail, and shown how this leads to resilience? I believe that preserving the natural ability of a child to be vulnerable – also to cry when they feel like it – would make for a healthier generation of adults.
Back to a place of balance
Judy Piatkus of ConsciousCafe shared her own experience when she said:
“Resilience is sometimes especially present in people who have taken a lot of knocks. More often than not, the biggest challenges, including personal ones, can help us grow and develop resilience that serves us in all areas of life.”
Going back to that tree in the storm, resilience is about bending and then having a natural ability to swing back. Imagine how much we could progress in our professional lives if we applied this capacity there. If we are pushed to our limits, but are accepting of the fact that we sometimes may feel pressured and stretched, then we can get a better sense of where our centre resides – a place of balance that we can easily return to, where we don’t need depend on what other people tell us.
However, to be resilient doesn’t mean to be capable of doing everything on your own. All things and people are ultimately connected. We do depend on one another, whether we like it or not. Asking for help is a sign of strength and an act of self-love. It shows that you care for yourself.
The rewards of compassion
Being vulnerable – and therefore resilient – means to stand without a mask. When we are scared of standing naked (metaphorically, not literally) it means we are wary of being authentic. But if we are compassionate towards ourselves, we live in an authentic manner anyway.
By showing compassion to ourselves and others, and allowing our own vulnerability to show, we allow other people to also lean into their own vulnerability without fear of being rejected.
Being vulnerable can be likened to surrendering to the will of the universe, just like those branches bending with the wind, and putting our trust in the universe is the best way to allow it to bring us what we are asking for. As we accept and allow ourselves to be what we are – vulnerable – we invite people to help us much more than if we work hard to give the impression that we can do it all ourselves.
Accepting help can trigger a new wave of vulnerability, but what is that feeling? It is just another gust of wind. It isn’t a bad thing and if we don’t resist it, then perhaps we won’t break, but will naturally swing back to our centre.
In business and beyond, in our personal lives, vulnerability is a sign of authenticity, and this is a prerequisite for truthful relationships with yourself and others. Such bonds are stronger than any other, which in turn makes them – you guessed it – more resilient!
Be vulnerable and be resilient.
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Recommended resources for further insights:
My Self Love Journal, in which Day 5 is titled ‘Vulnerability as Strength’
How to Fail with Elizabeth Day (podcast)
How to Fail by Alain de Botton (podcast)
The Power of Vulnerability by Rene Brown (YouTube)
Resilience – 5 to Thrive by Bep Dhaliwal (article)
More about Claudia Roth
Claudia Roth is the founder of Soul Luxury specialising in the field of healing hospitality, personal growth and transformation. She draws her experience as a global corporate executive in luxury hospitality combined with a lifelong interest in how our energy field, thoughts and emotions influence our lives. She is especially recognised for her ability to guide people to that hidden space within where life’s narrative can be positively impacted. Claudia works directly to support the transformation of individuals and organisations through workshops, retreats and personal change programmes. During these times of major global upheaval her work is more relevant and sought after than ever.
Her guided journal ‘A 28 Day Journey to Self Love‘ is available on Amazon and other major book retailer platforms.