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1 (855) EMPATHY

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The Vulnerability of Kindness


The Vulnerability of Kindness

Marina Smerling

There's a reason more of us haven't checked perpetual self-kindness off the to-do list, aren't more habitually loving to ourselves when things fall apart, when it seems the only person to blame is ourselves, whether we've said the "wrong" thing in a tenuous relationship, forgotten an important date, or flown off the handle in a way we deem despicable and/or humiliating, and want nothing more than to bury our head in the sand.

There's a reason we aren't more kind.

Kindness is vulnerable.

The voices in our heads -- of "not enough," "unworthy," "you'll never get there," etc. -- in their own earnest way, they're trying to protect us.

If you're already down on the ground, you can't get knocked down.  If you're already holding your breath, you can't get the wind knocked out of you.  If you're already telling yourself you're good-for-nothing, no one else's voice can shock you with those same words.

And thus if you dare to drop the stories of "not good enough" and "unworthy," you might get caught off guard.  You might get hurt.  You might get wounded in the place where all that negative self-talk was trying its darnedest to keep you safe.

Self-kindness disarms us.  It makes us vulnerable.

And all the same, it makes us more available for life, for relating, for intimacy, and for play.

There's no way out of this predicament but through.  Through being willing to hurt, to burn, to cry, to be impacted by another's words and actions.

Yes, strength comes, but it's not through the hardening, it's not through blocking off our capacity to feel hurt, not through raising our swords and shields to the world.

Strength arises in the softening, in the dropping of our habitual defenses, and letting our inescapable vulnerability shine through.

And the strength that comes is a strength born of the tenderness of our hearts and the softness of our skin.  It's a strength that's born with its hands stretched open, curious and reaching for this life.  Willing to feel. Willing to learn.  Willing to be touched and seen and known by this life.

The strange irony is that, in our soft, gooey, mush-ness, we actually have more resilience, not less.  We have more capacity to flow with life, rather than be broken by it.

And the scared ones in you... no, we don't kick them out of the circle of life.  They get to come along.  They get to shiver and shake and howl and squirm all in the great big open field of you, to be held, to be taken in, to be taken home, and loved there.

Healing shame will turn us inside out for love.  It will rock our worlds, invert every instinct we ever had to protect ourselves, and have us come running forward with our arms open toward the cliff's edge, all because we want so damn badly to be here, and to be here fully, no part in hiding, all of us available wide open to the world.

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