Nourish relationships and self-care

Empathy works. It always does.

Opening up to the vulnerability of life

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Image courtesy to The Church in the Dale

Image courtesy to The Church in the Dale

I always thought that retreats are peaceful, tranquil, and joyful.

How wrong can you can be? This retreat was unnerving, disquieting, and disorienting.

In these two days I realized how much of my life has been dominated by my fear that I won’t get the love, acceptance, and support that I so deeply long for. I am creating my own suffering by expecting the world not to meet my needs.

Many of my critical, judgmental, and evaluative voices are my way of keeping people at a distance to minimize the risk that I will feel hurt, lonely, and scared.

I breathe into that realization. I let it sink in. A second insight comes up. These voices don’t indicate that I am not a good person, that there is something wrong with me, that I should practice harder to be compassionate with everyone. They are just a cry for help to trust that I am good enough, that I do matter, and that my presence is indeed a present to the world.

Gosh. This is what I help my clients with. And here I am struggling with this deeply ingrained fear of rejection, ridicule, and abandonment. I am so scared that I interpret every absence of a smile, every lack of a hug, every non-response as proof that I am rejected, etc.

And that’s where my critical thoughts come in handy. They reassure me that there is nothing wrong with me, and everything with them. Another brick in the wall to guard my vulnerable heart.

I wonder “What if I open up to this raw pain of loneliness? What if I gently embrace this fear that my needs for acceptance, mattering, and belonging won’t be met? What if I step into the courage to share myself nakedly, trembling in this old, habitual fear of isolation and lack of support and understanding?

It sounds pretty unpleasant and unappealing. I like the safety of the wall around me. I don’t see much of life, of the real presence of people, and I’m not sure if I’m missing out. Maybe I just want to stay inside these walls of habitual thoughts and reassure myself that everything is okay. That life is really wonderful in this dark, stuffed cave.

And yet… How would life be if I step out into what’s truly alive in me? No evaluation, just owning my experience. How would life be if I am fully aware of and responsive to how I contribute to my own suffering? No judgment, just an observation. How would life be if I create some spaciousness for other ways of being? No force, just experimenting.

It sounds scary. It sounds appealing.

Yeah.

Let’s do that…My thoughts might not be right after all.

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You want help to step fully into being you? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary, discovery session to see if and how I can help.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping compassionate professionals integrate self-care in their lives. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

6 thoughts on “Opening up to the vulnerability of life

  1. I’m logged out of facebook for a while, so I can’t “like” your post right now, but I want to let you know that I like it anyway!

    Like

  2. “I keep the guard on not because I want to be left alone but to see who actually cares to knock it down” – random quote. Just give your supremacy of not rethinking twice a chance and see for yourself what is awaiting around the corner.

    Like

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