“Fear is excitement without the breath.”
Jackee Holder is a leadership coach, interfaith minister and published author based in London. Her big-hearted entry for theVproject is articulate, thought-provoking and brimming with a warm wisdom as she dissects the beauty of embracing vulnerability and offers tips for managing the ongoing relationship with the inner critic in all of us...
Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. Do you agree? I believe wholeheartedly that vulnerability and courage are intrinsically linked. Vulnerability is activated when we are in a state that returns us to our true nature or where we get in touch with our true essence. That true nature holds our whole self differently from the way we operate and relate in our everyday lives. It holds together both our strengths and our weaknesses and knows that the two go hand in hand, and are worthy of not being judged or compared. When we are in this place courage is generated and connected with much more easily. From this place we trust, often it feels like there is nothing to lose but everything to gain. We do what intuitively feels right. Our senses, sensibilities, awareness is heightened so that we extend ourselves beyond our normal call of duty. We return to our natural state.
Worthlessness, lack of self-belief, perfectionism – there are many blocks that prevent us from leaning into vulnerability. How do you move past them? What do those blocks & blurts look like for you? What do you think we can do to make them less controlling/dominant? The ways I have moved past the grip and vice of my inner critic is by changing the dialogue we have. In my journals I sometime literally write out dialogues with her in a written call and response. Sometimes it is writing down the evidence that proves her comments to be incorrect and disproving her on the page and other times I take a more compassionate and peaceful form of inquiry by kindly asking what is it she’s trying to protect me from. Its then I remember that she’s simply trying to stop me from feeling hurt or wounded again. We are in many ways like old friends. She knew me in the past when things were not as they should have been. Her job ever since that time has been to protect. Only problem is that now it’s like she’s going around the assignment in the wrong way. Not only is she the way, she often gets in the way. My way out has been to assign her a new job that takes up her time 24/7. I last assigned my inner critic the job of Global Chief Head Of Operations for faulty traffic lights worldwide. Last I heard she was travelling widely and always on the go travelling from country to country sorting out faulty traffic lights.
‘To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.’ Vulnerability is often seen as something we admire in others but detest in ourselves. How do we actively try to close the gap with these concepts? Being vulnerable is not a permanent feature, it’s a feeling, a state of mind, of being in a moment that does pass. So it is not a monument we have to carry around for the rest of our lives. The other day I signed up for a course and as I collected my name badge saw the name of a recent coaching client. For a spilt second I felt my thoughts begin to race, “ What if she see me and then thinks I’m not sorted out!” or “Oh my God, I am letting the side down by revealing the places where I am definitely unclear and not sure what to do next.” But then I caught myself and realized this was a chance for me to be real and authentic. To show up, to not hide and to really practice what I preach. It turned out to be a really, great day.
These two sides of myself co-exist and contribute to my resilience and my successes. Being vulnerable doesn’t make you a weaker or less effective person, in fact I believe it contributes to our wholeness. I loved this quote I heard this week from Gareth Malone who presents the BBC2 show, The Choir, who said, “ It takes a certain amount of strength to reach your vulnerability in singing.” This is punctuated by a saying I have shared with many over the years from the Gestalt psychotherapist Frits Perls, “Fear is excitement without the breath.”
It can be a good thing to express our weaknesses. I often fall about laughing at my inadequacies. It’s funny how it changes the perception of a weakness when we attend to it with a light touch. It has less of a bite. Not everyone is capable of expressing their weaknesses but it doesn’t mean they don’t have them. In some cases it might mean that they’ve built a fortress to protect vulnerability from getting in. We all make choices about our responses and will find different strategies for coping.
"Vulnerability gifts us the ability to be present and gifts to others the beauty of our true, natural presence."
‘Creativity is inspiration coupled with initiative. Acting on our creativity is an act of faith.’ How much do you rely on ‘divine intervention’ to create? Do you feel you control your creativity or does your creativity control you? I don’t wait for divine inspiration to come. Most days I send it a sign, give it a clue, entice it if need be a little. My intention is as a way of giving notice that I’m ready to receive and guess what it shows up. I love this quote from Somerset Maugham, “ I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at 9 o’clock sharp.” Some of the ways I send out signals and prepare for divine inspiration to find me:
- Mindfulness practice first thing in the morning
- Writing in my journal and always having my journal or notebook close by
- Running water every morning always activates/stimulates the Muse. I particularly love taking early morning baths when our home is so peaceful
- Sitting down and being willing to write a shitty first draft and not take flight knowing that it won’t come out perfect first time and may need several rewrites.
- Feeding and filling up my Inspiration well by doing something creative, going to an event, visiting a museum or exhibition or reading a novel.
I think we are all creatively resourced and it’s about whether we act on that source. Yesterday I listened to a writer describe a writing course I used to run three years ago that was aligned to the Moon cycles. She’s in another country. We have never met but yet what she had to say and her programme content was almost identical. It proves the point to me that the creative seed for every idea is planted in the minds of many. It’s what you do with it that counts. When I work with my creativity engine I feel a sense of belonging, a coming home. It is one of the most satisfying and soul fulfilling feelings.
‘Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.’ How much of your creative process is a battle with power? Do you always find the end result empowering? At this stage of my life in my fifties I have felt a huge amount of shedding but find I still need to work at being true to me. Right now I am being called to be even more vulnerable at a time when a part of me just wants life to not be so challenging. It would be so easy to blame other people and point the finger but this quote from Shozan Jack Heuber helps me to stay open, to remain calm and to keep the faith, “The people in your life don’t get in the way of your spiritual practice, they are your spiritual practice.” Vulnerability gifts us the ability to be present and gifts to others the beauty of our true, natural presence.