By Tania Ho
February 20, 2018
I have recently fallen in love with a Netflix reality TV show called “Queer Eye” (a remake of an old TV show in 2003). It’s a US-based reality TV show about five gay men (they call themselves the “fab 5”) who are experts in each of these areas: food & wine, fashion, grooming, interior design and culture, and they go to help one man (single or married, straight or gay) to basically revamp his life based on what he needs.
Besides being a funny, entertaining, light-hearted makeover type of show to watch, I find the transformations inspiring and often touching (yes, there were tears).
I just started to watch this show the past weekend, where we just held our first Museflower Self-Care Workshop called Gentle Heart-opening with Self-love with Watchararat (Khun A). What perfect timing! With the topics of self-love, connection, letting go and receiving that we discussed in the workshop, these are also the themes that the show touches upon.
First of all, the 2018 version is relevant to what we are going through right now. In this show, the hosts can speak openly about gay marriage (which was not legalized 10 years ago), having kids, having partners, their stories of coming out, as well as their personal struggles.
What I also like about this show, is not about the five hosts telling the hero (that’s how they call the person they are helping) what to do. It’s not about finding what’s wrong and pulling apart the hero’s life.
It’s about focusing on what they all share in common, despite their differences in background, culture, sexual orientation, or political views. It’s about helping the hero to see his strengths and to gain more confidence (they call it a make-better instead of make-over show).
It’s also about finding out what kind of fears or blockages the hero holds and facilitates a journey to let go and transform these fears. It’s about having a two-way dialogue, really understanding the hero’s needs and then gives him a little push.
Both the heroes and the hosts are open about their inner feelings and fears throughout the journey, and this really allows a true transformation to take place.
Does this sound familiar? This is exactly what retreats are about as well. We need to be open and honest with expressing our emotions, our fears, and dig deep to find out what blockages we hold, so we can move forward in our lives.
So this is where the inspiration of this month’s article comes from – Embracing Vulnerabilities.
What may be considered as vulnerabilities? Perhaps our personal struggles. Our emotional hurts and wounds. Our fears. Our worries.
Why is it important to embrace and acknowledge our own vulnerabilities? I believe that first it helps us to connect deeper with our emotional selves, and then it also helps us to connect with others on a different level.
When we embrace our vulnerabilities, we take back the power and responsibility that we are the co-creators of our own lives. We do not blame the outside world and see ourselves as victims. By accepting and owning up to our vulnerabilities, we become stronger on the inside.
1. Acknowledge Your Vulnerabilities as Strengths
It’s easy to associate vulnerabilities as weaknesses, as growing up that is what culturally and socially we have been taught.
You may have heard of the Japanese way of appreciating beauty called “wabi-sabi”. It means appreciating beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Having flaws, is beautiful and unique, by itself. For example, when a ceramic bowl is cracked (see our cover picture), an artist mends the crack with gold lacquer and therefore transforms the ceramic bowl into a different object of art.
Think of our vulnerabilities as cracks on a ceramic bowl, waiting to be filled with gold. They are nothing to be ashamed of. Instead they make us human. We are not perfect but due to this imperfection, we are each unique and beautiful in our own way.
2. Speak Your Truth
It is difficult to open up and talk about our vulnerabilities, as we always like to show our best and strong sides to others. I also don’t mean that you have to start pouring out your feelings to everyone who comes across your path. Only do so when you feel safe and comfortable.
When my dad passed away seven years ago (he committed suicide from depression), it was very difficult for me to tell people what really went on. There were a lot of shame, guilt, and grief, and whenever I started to tell someone about it, I would start tearing up. There was also a lot of stigma in the society (and Chinese culture) to discuss suicide. You were not supposed to say much in order to protect the honor of the surviving family members and the one who passed.
What also was difficult to bear was other people’s reactions and responses. We tend to feel judged by other people’s reactions.
But each time when I was able to open up about his death and cried a little, I could feel that it was healing my grief, my shame and my guilt one step at a time.
Till this day, I could say that I don’t feel ashamed or guilty anymore. When I speak about my dad’s passing, I could do so with strength. After all, his passing is the source of inspiration and strength for me to start Museflower Retreat & Spa and to continue doing what I’m doing now.
I am also very grateful and inspired when guests shared with me privately that they were diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorders during our Hado counseling sessions. They are very brave to embrace their own vulnerabilities and to speak their truth.
I truly believe that when we start to open up our wounds, healing starts to take place. Know that our vulnerabilities do not define who we are. They present as golden opportunities for us to evolve and to grow stronger.
3. Ask for Whatever Support You Need
I myself wouldn’t realize that responses such as “stay strong”, “don’t cry”, “you still have this and that to be grateful for”, did not really help me at the stage of grieving, until the situation happened to me when I was grieving myself.
When I spoke about my miscarriage last year to some friends, it seemed like there was not much response (did they understand what I said?), or they would start sharing encouraging stories of people who had miscarriage and got pregnant later anyway.
The intention was beautiful, but I honestly felt slightly disappointed. I just hoped that someone could acknowledge and understand the grief I was going through. Now, I would only feel disappointed if I were expecting something in return by opening up, right?
We cannot expect other people to understand what we are going through, when they have not experienced the same situation themselves. If they do not know, how can they give the support that we truly need?
This reminds me of a funny presentation from a Christian pastor Mark Gungor who talked about marriages and how to improve couple’s relationships. His talks are super good by the way, I highly recommend it (link of the video on Youtube: here) and the message is relevant across all religions and faiths (and there’s not much preaching which is nice).
He said that usually the wife expects the husband to know what’s going on in her mind, and that’s where disappointments and resentments start to build. He said, think about when you pray, you’d have to ask for what you want in order to receive. Ask, and you shall receive. If even for God (or the Universe) you’d have to ask, why would you expect that your husband just understands what you want without asking?
So, ask for the support you need. Maybe you just want to cry on a shoulder. Maybe you just need your friends to listen. Maybe you don’t want to talk at all and just do something fun to distract your mind for a while.
Remember, whatever support you need, just ask for it. Simply because you deserve it.
4. Actively Listen to Other People’s Vulnerabilities
When my dad was going through depression, I admit that I avoided talking to him about his emotions and feelings. At that time, it was too much for me to bear emotionally speaking, and now I know it was not because of my dad.
Whatever he was going through triggered something that was going on inside me, and I was not ready to look and connect with my own emotions. I wanted to stay strong on the outside, but I didn’t realize that in fact I was suppressing my emotions which later manifested into certain illnesses such as eczema.
In response to other people’s vulnerabilities and situations that make us feel uncomfortable, I think we human beings have a tendency to want to say or do something to make the other person feel better. Or we just avoid the situation completely – out of sight, out of mind.
I find one of the best things to do is really just to hold the space for that person. Holding the space means we are there to support them energetically, emotionally and physically, without any judgment or the need to react.
We actively listen and respond mindfully with love and compassion when appropriate. We can also send positive thoughts to that person, and visualize him/her getting better and allow the Universe to take its course.
So we all have vulnerabilities – it’s pretty universal. We could have been the one who didn’t listen and respond properly, or we could have been the one who didn’t receive the support we wanted.
Understand that everyone is doing the best they can at that moment. At the end, vulnerabilities teach us to be compassionate and kind towards ourselves and to other people.
How do you embrace your own vulnerabilities?
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About Tania Ho
Founder and owner of Museflower Retreat & Spa, Tania is a Hong Kong native who now makes her home at the retreat in Chiang Rai. Trained in a number of holistic therapies including Flower Essence consultation and Hado Counseling, Tania believes that healing can take place when we start making changes from within, and it starts from listening to the voice of our soul within.
Museflower Retreat & Spa provides a quiet space for city people who feel stressed out, disconnected and tired an opportunity to get away, slow down and learn to reconnect to themselves again. To receive a free 500THB credit voucher to use towards your next retreat or spa booking at Museflower, subscribe to our newsletter and claim your free gift here.