The Gift of Vulnerability

In a domination culture, which is the culture we live in, vulnerabilities are regarded only as a weakness and something to deny and avoid. No wonder, because exposing a vulnerability  in a domination-based society is an opportunity to exploit and diminish someone in order to elevate yourself. Consequently, a lot of people end up disconnecting and dissociating from their vulnerabilities as a way to survive and protect themselves. However, an often undetected hardening of one’s spirit also begins with this disconnection.

We don’t often think of vulnerabilities as a positive thing, much less a gift, but they do serve another purpose; they can guide us to our authentic self. When we begin to feel vulnerable, uncertain, unsure this may be the onset of an Iron Butterfly journey.

We all know the hero’s journey, where the hero chooses an adventure, learns lessons, and comes back to tell them. But there is another journey that is just as challenging, requiring courage and conviction, that is not as heralded–the Iron Butterfly journey. Unlike the hero who chooses an external adventure, the Iron Butterfly journey is an internal journey, often precipitated by an external crisis that was often not of our own choosing. Unlike the hero’s journey where the hero exerts his power over others, the Iron Butterfly’s journey is one of self-empowerment.

It can be a difficult journey, a descent into despair often, where all the images about ourselves recede, where beliefs once held come into question, and hard realities, once clouded and out of sight, are in full view. On this journey, Iron Butterflies come face to face with their suppressed vulnerabilities and are shaken into going where they wouldn’t go on their own, but find themselves on a path to becoming whole and authentic.

Often when we face our vulnerabilities, we would rather get rid of them, deny them, overpower them, out-will them, not go there. But if we can look at our vulnerabilities through a different lens, another opportunity emerges. Feeling our vulnerability enables us to experience the full range of our reactions to the world around us–our physical needs, our craving for intimacy, our longings for love, our yearnings for safety, our shyness, our insecurities.

When we deny our vulnerabilities, we limit our self-knowledge—we don’t really know who we are, what we do or do not like, what we need or don’t need. Relying only on our known strengths, we limit who we can be. If we can see that our vulnerabilities are our growing edge, then they provide an opportunity to expand our capacity to overcome difficulties and obstacles. Vulnerability is a gift that links us to our unrealized power.

When we are feeling most vulnerable, it is time to pause, to honor this deeply internal, chrysalis-time. It may feel like not much is happening but actually a lot is happening. You are shedding an old skin and the chance for transformation presents itself–a chance to reinvent yourself, to find or restore an internal balance, to be whole and to heal. Along the road to authenticity, we see both the vulnerable and the strong, the uncertain and the clear, the pain and the joy, the masculine and the feminine, opposites that delineate and fulfill each other. When we can embrace it all, we discover the gift of vulnerability–the possibility and potential to transform weaknesses into strength, self-doubt into self-confidence, worthlessness to worthiness, imbalance to balance, uncertainty to wisdom.

In our fast-paced, stressed society where we can hardly catch our breath, give yourself permission to pause, to reflect, to allow things to unfold and emerge. Chrysalis-time is a sacred time where the gift of vulnerability can allow an Iron Butterfly to emerge.



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18 Responses to “The Gift of Vulnerability”

  1. Louise Beasley says:

    Increase your awareness of vulnerability as a natural state, rather than something to be worried about.

  2. Redbeard says:

    Chrysalis time, I love the concept, thanks!

    • I feel like I can’t overstate the importance of honoring this time, in a culture that generally has no clue about the importance to pause. My chrysalis times have often been frought with guilt–I should be achieving something, right? And yet, staying with it has led to the most surprising and absolutely right places. Sometimes what we want is not what we need.

  3. Word Ninja says:

    What’s an Iron Butterfly journey?

  4. Ronnie Cowan says:

    You’re right Birute, vulnerability is the doorway to love, and gives us access to true strength.

  5. Cap'n says:

    VERY enlightening – thanks!

  6. Nice to back your blog, I find it again for about a month, now I have bookmarked it.

  7. What a blog post!! Very informative and also easy to understand. Looking for more such comments!! Do you have a facebook? I recommended it on digg. The only thing that it’s missing is a bit of new design. However thank you for this information.

  8. Your book also embraces how woman today can come to terms with family relations. My family is the image of that society, were it is a man’s world and as a woman you had to learn mans ways and if you showed vulnerability you showed signs of weakness. My Dad use to tell me “from the time the world it’s been a world and from the time the man has been a man, things have been that way and that is that”.
    My mother embraced this though as well. She even told me once; she could not believe I was her daughter for being so vulnerable by allowing myself to suffer injustices. But what she did not realize, it made me stronger, I emerged more confident because I did not allow myself become or feel victimized. I have a 5 year old daughter, and she also makes me want to be that “Iron Butterfly” I am strong, resilient but yet compassionate and in touch with my feelings and that is OKAY.

    • It’s more than okay; it’s powerful.

      • Your Book brings to my mind the movie “Working Girl” 1988 Directed by Mike Nichols. With Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Melanie Griffith.

        The story of the movie covers several areas in your book. On how women have been doing things mens way, women immitating men to try to make it in the corporate world and be taken seriously. On the other hand women working together instead of working against each other to compete for the same oportunities. It is one of my favorite movies of all time. The character Tess Mcguill played by Melanie Griffith is the perfect example of the women in the 80’s and our today Iron Butterfly.