Revisiting courage and vulnerability: Shining a light on hiding and how to come out of the shadows

April 5, 2016

Last fall, I wrote about courage and vulnerability.


I reread it today for the first time in a long time; I admit that right now I need to remind myself of my own messages.  Like little children who want to hear fairy tales over and over to understand more and more from each telling, I need to go deeper with this information in the current circumstances I am facing.  


Life doesn’t really move in a straight line, it moves in a spiral, so this is another trip around the spiral, as some of my dearest mentors have reminded me, to ever-deepening levels of awareness and existence.


I’ve gone down a road of greater vulnerability these past months.  I don’t think being vulnerable more often gets easier, per se; it’s still uncomfortable because we’re always on a new edge, deciding whether to leap or not.  But there is something about it that feels really good, vibrant.


And more often than not, wonderful things occur from the willingness to be vulnerable, and state and live one’s truth.


I’m aware that I do retreat sometimes because the edge is uncomfortable, the vulnerability seemingly too big; however, I don’t retreat long.  I gather my courage and go back to that edge because the discomfort and unknown of going forward is better, is that field of possibility I am open to, always seeking, compared to the known discomfort of going backward and the possibility of staying stuck like I was so much in the past.


Growth and learning take a certain amount of vulnerability, and with that some discomfort.  However, miraculously, alongside that there is also excitement and wonder and joy.  As a lover of paradox, this is even tougher, bigger with the growth and learning of our hearts and souls.  


How can discomfort and joy exist together at the same time?  It’s an interesting phenomenon with no easy explanation.  I simply believe it’s one deeply vital thing that makes us feel fully alive.


In facing a new situation requiring a lot of vulnerability and courage, I have found myself in my brief retreats reverting to old hiding mechanisms. This has been painful.  


I thought I was done with that.


And then, listening in on my thoughts, I laugh at myself:  


I remind clients all the time that matters of self-care, the heart, our personal and professional growth, daily living in all areas, requires a daily practice, a returning again and again to recommit to what’s important, to remind ourselves why we matter, why our goals and dreams, our thinking and actions are so very important.


Our hiding places provide comfort at first, or so we think.  They do give us a sort of break, but they quickly become that dismal field of discomfort.  What I want isn’t there in my shadows.  Staying there for any amount of time makes me feel worse, and hurts my energy and dampens the feelings in my soul.  The contrast of our dark hiding places to being in the light of courage is sometimes simply necessary to recalibrate, remember and align more deeply with ourselves.


The break I really need is not to retreat, but to firmly ground myself, go into stillness, breathe deep, listen to my inner wisdom and the messages my Divine always has for me, connect with the energy that will nourish my courage, build my strength, clarify my intentions, and help me move forward with small steps with my vulnerability back to that edge.


If you find yourself revisiting old unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, first have great compassion for yourself.  


Do not beat yourself up for it.  


Examine it like a scientist for what it’s there to teach you.


Thank it for reconnecting you to the present and what is important.  


Grieve it, let yourself have all the feelings you need to about it.  


Look to the opposite thought or behavior to find what is actually more true and right for you.  


Pause, rest however briefly or long is needed.  


One of the best, fastest, and most enriching ways to go through all this is outside in nature.  If that’s not possible, gazing at imagery of nature, listening to recordings of nature sounds, being around plants and pets works, too.  If that’s not possible, closing your eyes  and visualizing your favorite real or imagined place in nature with all your senses works miraculously well.


Then, envision yourself, hear and feel yourself thinking the thoughts and doing the actions that will propel you lovingly, courageously forward.  Taking time to visualize this fully on all levels helps us then get up from our repose and carry them out.  


We have heard many times in life ‘there are no guarantees.’  We never know for absolute sure if our vulnerability and courage will result in the outcomes we desire.  Along with vulnerability and courage, there is a very important companion:  The state of not being attached to outcomes.  


Yes, another paradox:  Have the vision and intention, feel it, taste it, smell it, hear it, see it, and then, release it completely.  Grasping tightly onto it makes it disappear, leaves no room for it to occur.  


It’s in the letting go that the field of potential is able to exist, that the thing we desire is able to manifest.  


Actually, I know there is one guarantee in life, having lived it:  


Not being willing to be vulnerable, uncomfortable, not acting on my courage, my integrity, what feels true for me, of me, will keep me stuck in the dismal field of despair and shadow.  I thus choose vulnerability and courage over and over, embracing the paradoxes of this beautiful gift called life.




I help men and women access their courage and do the work of making personal changes by creating safe space and providing compassionate, practical support.  I'm a Martha Beck Certified Life Coach, and have helped countless people find their fields of possibility and achieve their dreams and goals.  If you'd like information on how you can work with me, please click here.  It would be an honor...


Wonderful insights, Lauren. Thanks, as always, for sharing and for offering so much for us to ponder...
By: Andi on April 5, 2016
Beautiful piece Lauren...especially the last line "Actually, I know there is one guarantee in life, having lived it" so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
By: Yas on April 11, 2016

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