I’m drafting this week’s post while flying home, after attending Dr. Robert Holden’s weekend Loveability program in New York based on his book with the same title, which I’ve written about in a few of my previous posts. I’m also writing through tears from feeling profoundly moved by what has been stirred within me just moments ago in meditation and by what transpired over the weekend. At this very moment, I’m simultaneously feeling vulnerable and strong. Most of all, my heart is very full.
What brought on the above? I was just meditating on a question that was inspired by the closing session of the program and the final chapter in the book: How can my love help to heal the world? As soon as I posed that question, intuitive guidance readily flooded my consciousness. Here’s the essence of what I received: Be and express more of who you really are. Speak your heart, write your truth—unfiltered. Allow your vulnerability to show—unplugged. Don’t hide it any longer. Your own healing helps to heal the world.
Staying in this soft, feeling place of my heart, I want to share a pair of particularly significant takeaways from this weekend spent inquiring about love.
Vulnerability is inherent in loveability
If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know this isn’t the first time I’ve written about vulnerability or the fact that hiding it behind our defensive masks keeps us separate from love. Despite knowing so, it was this following inquiry at the workshop that really drove home the importance of being willing to be vulnerable in the presence of others—and not just behind the protection of my blog: One way I make it difficult for others to love me is…
Prior to attending the workshop, I knew that I have a very well developed defensive personality of a 3 on the Enneagram, i.e., the star, the achiever who is always perfectly in control. I also knew that this mask’s sole mission is to protect me preemptively from more rejection, to cover up my fears and insecurities, and all the times I felt deeply alone and lonely—i.e., everything that the 3 persona of always having it together is not.
I had one intention going into the Loveability weekend—to follow Rumi’s advice: Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. Having a clearly framed inquiry by Robert around they ways in which I make it difficult for others to love me crystalized for me the need to be willing to be vulnerable in order to experience the love I yearn for so deeply all my life. Vulnerability comes with risks of rejection. Yet, unless I’m willing to honor these risks as part of the human experience, my heart will never be truly open to giving and receiving love to the fullest.
Honor the bad and the ugly
The most profound breakthrough happened on Sunday morning when Robert said that some people feel unloveable because they don’t feel good enough, while others feel they are too much. At that very moment, a realization hit me most unexpectedly: I felt both not good enough and too much. As I was suddenly gripped by the disorienting sensation of a previously unknown hole in my chest, my mental gears automatically started cranking to analyze this new threatening realization: How could this be? How could I be SIMULTANEOUSLY lacking the necessary qualities to deserve love AND blocking love by being too much? How did I get so screwed?
Despite my intellect’s well-intended effort to control my heart and keep me from making a public fool of myself, the dam keeping my emotions contained had burst unceremoniously. Silent tears turned into sobbing that wouldn’t stop, even though I covered my face and tried to make as little noise as possible. As my defensive 3 persona attempted desperately to get a grip, Robert instructed us to get into small groups for our next inquiry: One way that Life is loving me right now is…
I panicked. How could I possibly show my face, let alone share how Life is loving me at this very messy moment? I quickly escaped to the ladies room to try to compose myself. While there, I was very conscious of needing to make a choice between two alternatives.
Option #1: I could stay in the restroom (or, better yet, go downstairs to my room) to wait out the humiliating proposition of returning to my group in my unglued state.
Option #2: I had a beautiful opportunity to honor my intention going into the weekend to break down whatever internal barriers that have been keeping me separate from love.
As my head tried to steer me toward the safe harbor of Option #1, my heart didn’t want me to miss what Life had just presented to me: A precious opportunity to check my protective 3 mask at the door and rejoin my group as my exposed vulnerable but true self.
Seizing the moment to break through, I chose Option #2. However, I still needed time to summon the courage to share what just happened within me. Aside from the friend who went to the workshop with me, the group consisted of four complete strangers, one of whom a man no less. The prospect of appearing vulnerable to a male stranger, even in a safe space, was especially unnerving. After passing on a few rounds of sharing with the group, I finally found my voice to talk about my huge ah-ha through tearful, broken sentences. My willingness to share my vulnerability touched one of the women in the group, and she promptly cited my courage to be vulnerable as a way that life loved her in that moment. A little later, the man in the group told me privately that the what I shared resonated with him. He reiterated that when saying goodbye at the conclusion of the program on Sunday evening.
I’m writing this piece in part to honor the guidance I received in meditation earlier—to share my vulnerabilities unfiltered. I also wanted to share with you what I’m taking away from this Loveability weekend, especially the reminder to embrace all parts of the human experience, instead of suppressing or dismissing the feelings of not good enough or too much. In honoring these objectively ugly parts of being human, I also recognize that neither is my truth, but just stories my protective instincts constructed to help me explain and cope with disappointments and heartbreaks—and to save me from taking the risk of opening myself up to further unwanted rejections. Yet, unless I’m willing to be vulnerable, to honor that being human comes with feeling not good enough and/or too much sometimes, I’ll forever uphold conditions that keep me separate and disconnected from love, the very essence of who I am and what I yearn to experience to the fullest in this life.
With all of the above said, thank you for bearing witness to this raw experience of taking one step closer to returning to Love. If my reflections piqued your interest, perhaps you might conduct your own inquiries into love from Dr. Robert Holden’s program:
- One way I make it difficult for others to love me is…
- One way that life is loving me right now is…
As always, would love for you to share your thoughts and reactions below.