our vulnerabilities are not our weakness, they are our strength

words & photo by Brian Thompson.

i’m not feeling like myself today.

that’s a bit of an odd expression though, isn’t it? if you don’t feel like yourself, then who else could you possibly feel like? the only thing we can ever really know is what it feels like to be us, it can be no other way.

the sensations we have within this body are our only absolute experience, and yet we’re stuck in this conundrum where there’s a separate identity that we associate ourselves by, but it’s not our true self. so when we say we're not feeling like our self, no wonder! the “self” we are so accustomed to identifying ourselves by, is in fact, not our true self at all — it’s only the one we’ve created for the rest of the world to see.

in this moment, for me, this rings true. i feel emotionally drained today, and i don’t feel like my normal self. i feel a little off and the tough thing is, i’m not sure why. it’s nothing that unusual though, so i’m not that troubled by it. i’ve always struggled with moody waves that wash over me from time to time, for seemingly no apparent reason.

sometimes it feels as if tears could flow at any moment, but i know they won’t. they rarely ever do. my tears rarely come when i need them the most, when i need to release whatever unexpressed emotions have built up inside me. instead, my tears only tend to fall during silly sentimental movies, or perhaps during sad video clips about innocent orphaned animals.

for some reason my heart needs an external excuse to ache; it’s too afraid to ache all on its own. it needs a cover, a disguise to let out its pain from, one that’s free from any possible judgement.

i know i’m not alone in this. i think we all hold onto our emotions too tightly. so tightly in fact, that we can rarely even recognize them. we hold our feelings so close to our chest that we’re unable to see them for what they really are.

and so, we identify ourselves by the feeling itself — i’m sad, i’m stressed, i’m angry, i’m depressed — but we’re clueless to their actual source. we feel their symptoms deeply, but the wound is so completely covered up that we ignore their cause and instead stew in a steam cooker of heated emotions, with no outlet to vent. we become a ticking time bomb that can explode at any moment. when you see someone fly off the handle, this is exactly what has happened. they needed an excuse to somehow relieve their pent up pain.

modern life has taught us to guard our emotions and to keep them hidden, for fear of being hurt.

but in doing so, we only make matters worse. we think that if we expose ourselves too openly that we'll be taken advantage of. we think we’re easier to be betrayed when our vulnerabilities are so exposed.

i suppose we do this because we think people don't like to see things as they really are, that they don’t want to see the sometimes-ugly truth of our humanity, so we cover up our feelings with something distracting that otherwise seems perfect. we keep applying shiny new coats of paint to keep our vulnerabilities from being revealed. we create glossier, flawless versions of ourselves for the outside world to see, but meanwhile we're suffering inside.

this is where we have it all wrong though. our vulnerabilities are not our weakness, they are our strength.

they are what unites us, not what sets us apart. it is our vulnerabilities that give us our compassion, our gratitude, our love and our empathy. it is our open hearts that make us human. when we close our hearts we separate ourselves, and we become narcissistic, spiteful and full of selfish greed. we become lost within the clouds of our own suffering.

and so we adorn ourselves with masks of distracting identities, with jewel encrusted clothes to divert judging eyes, and with immaculately groomed lives of plastic perfection to sway public opinion. we obscure our truth through our incredible sense of humour, through our false-but-always-bubbly attitude, through our sarcasm, in chasing the job of our dreams, through the pretend-happiness we find in flashy new things, through all of our obsessions, or through our totally toned arms and perfect six-pack abs.

but in wearing these masks of perfection, we're distracted from seeing our true self.

we're lost in our own shadows and we start to believe our own lies. we prevent ourselves from accessing our inner wisdom and from understanding who we really are, underneath all of the distractions.

in living this way, the glass house we've built around us will one day crack and leave us shattered. the broken pieces will be left on the floor and we won’t know how to put them back together. we won’t know who we are.

we must no longer hide from our emotions. they need to be felt. in fact, we need to soak in them in order to better understand them. we shouldn’t hide or ignore them, we should explore them, without judgement, without criticism, and free from our self-loathing. our feelings need to be expressed, not stoppered, otherwise we’ll never work through them. like a tightly held breath, our emotions need to be let out. it’s the cathartic relief we need.

this is what it means to live authentically.

when we no longer hide from our true nature we invite abundance back into our life. so as i wonder why i’m feeling the way i do this morning, i’m totally fine with it. i’ll apply no pressure. i’ll sit cross-legged on my meditation mat, close my eyes, breathe mindfully and feel whatever it is that i’m feeling. i will apply no tools of distraction. i will go for a walk and let my mind be still. i will sit with my emotions and come to know them. i will extend to them my compassion and i will welcome them. with nothing to hide and with space and stillness to roam free, my emotions will show me their truth, and they will leave me with a sense of relief and inner peace.

i will return to my actual self, not the identity my ego wants me to compose.

we all need regular reminders of who truly are, underneath the layers of our knowledge, bias, opinions, criticisms and identities of self we’ve created and struggle to maintain.

we need to commune with our roots, for that’s the source from where our spiritual nourishment begins.