Previously I wrote about "Forgetting my Purpose". July is about remembering where to find My Power. Acting from a place of power allows me to speak from my authentic self and accomplish what serves me as well as those around me. It takes courage to do this, but what I discovered last week is that only when I also allow myself to be vulnerable will I truly... even easily... realize my power.
Being vulnerable means "open to attack" according to an online dictionary. One can be attacked and fall to the floor and grovel, begging for salvation. One can also be vulnerable and speak from her authentic, powerful self.
So, how did I discover my power from that position? Last week I had a huge "breakdown". A breakdown is when something literally "stops you in your tracks" and you must take an action. Sometimes the breakdown can trigger old habits for taking action. It serves to pay attention to the emotions that the old habits bring and then to decide if these habits are serving you. It serves to know the choice you have in taking action from your authentic self or some other place within you. (Using the 5 Energies can support you in shifting to your authentic self. Note the reference at the end of the article if you desire to learn more.)
So here is the story: Two different people confronted me within a week saying I had caused each of them problems because of my actions and words. Oh my, I was shocked and crestfallen. My greatest fear is being misunderstood especially when the person feels I did something intentionally that would hurt her or him.
In both cases, I immediately burst into an apology with no thought of explaining my actions. It was with words and emotions that meant, "Please, please forgive me, I am bad and deserve your anger and am sure I have lost your respect, but maybe, some day, you will love me again... if I can be good enough." With one person it was even accompanied with tears. Yuck, I'm not sure what emotions came for them, but for me it was despair, guilt, even shame. None of these emotions served me in any healthy way.
In the first case, I had made an assumption that was based on my understanding and not from any conversation where a request was made. It served to remind me... and eventually the other person, that conversations and requests would better support our understanding of what the other needs. In the second case, I had nothing for which to apologize, as I had not taken the action for which I was being accused. (A question I have now, concerns where the emotion of anger on my part was in this. Some people would have expressed at least some indignation with being falsely accused.)
My old habits began when I was a little girl. I learned that if I was being "fussed at" it served me to beg forgiveness even when I was innocent. The adult would calm down and the yelling would stop. As an adult I reinforced the habit when a certain man in my life would be verbally abusive and sometimes accuse me of all kinds of things that were not true. "Speaking my truth" in either case only served to make the person more angry and the words more vicious. So, my immediate reaction was to ask for forgiveness, stay very still and quiet, and allow the anger being directed at me to dissipate. As a little girl, perhaps it served to keep me safe. As an adult, it only served to make me feel crazy and to withdraw into myself. (I finally discovered my strength and power and did leave the relationship when he declared he did not desire to change.)
Fortunately, I realized quickly last week the old habit from which I was reacting. I pondered how my authentic self would respond and then with the support of two coaches, I was able to make a decision around actions I desired to take from that part of me. One coach supported me in seeing/feeling... remembering... that my value does not come from others. One possibility is to say to myself, "I did not intentionally take actions to hurt either person and I have apologized for the perceived hurt. I can choose to laugh about the misunderstanding and go on with my day knowing I am human and I am good enough."
The other coach supported me when I said the "laughing it off" was too easily accepted by part of me... that perhaps there was an action that my authentic self desired to take. What came from my heart was that my authentic self would ask for a conversation... not to defend myself, but to declare the breakdown and ask to process what had happened for me and to seek to understand the other person's assumptions while "speaking my truth". To ask for this conversation meant I had to be vulnerable... be open to attack, but in a way I chose. I struggled for a couple of hours for the words to make this request from this authentic part of me. I grounded myself... several times... and then spoke.
Long story short... the request was honored and in a brief 15 minutes, we both had processed what happened with me feeling "equal" and "heard". I did not shed a tear or grovel, I spoke from a place that served me as well as the other person. A place where I felt whole, good enough, and understood... even powerful. My vulnerability allowed me to step into my power and that power felt really, really good to both of us.
My intention is to not ever be so strongly triggered to act from old habits that don't serve... and to much more quickly find my power that lives in my authentic self and take action from there. Yes, I know I may be triggered in the future. I also know I have a choice of ways to respond and that stepping into the vulnerability that allows my power to come forth serves better than to crash into that vulnerability that leaves me groveling on the floor hiding from the "attach" and serving no one.
"To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength."
- Criss Jami
Carol Harris-Fike, ACC, NCOC
CHF Coaching and Consulting, LLC
Sign up for my newsletter to receive an article each month, just like this one!
Carol Harris-Fike is an ICF credentialed coach serving individuals and organizations across the United States. Harris-Fike completed ontological coaching courses with Newfield Network and earned her NCC and NCOC (Newfield Certified Ontological Coach) certifications from Newfield. Carol’s thirty years’ experience in public education as a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent enriches her work. Her study and practices with energy, including Reiki, Tai Chi, and Chi Gong support her work. She has degrees from Texas Tech University and the University of Texas at Austin. Areas of expertise include an understanding of the latest scientific research in the connections between the brain/body and how our view of the world affects how we think, feel, and move. She has designed a method for learning to shift the energy that flows within us to shift our moods, emotions, and language. She understands how this view affects the choices we make and the results we receive. Carol’s book: 5 Life Energies: The Choice You Have in How Energy Shapes Your Life was published in fall, 2009. JICT Images: Journey with Intuition & Creativity for Transformation, a set of 72 evocative photos with questions for contemplation plus a manual will be published, spring 2010. Carol and three ontological coaching colleagues created this project. She lives in Western Colorado with her husband, Rich. Learn more about Carol on her website: www.YourLifeFromHere.com.
Learn more about my book: 5 Life Energies: The Choice You Have in How Energy Shapes Your Life©2009, www.5lifeenergies.com
Learn more about JICT Images: Journey with Intuition & Creativity to Transformation ©2010, www.JICTimages.com