I met Amina Melody Pryor through the World Changing Writing Workshop 3 Facebook group and was absolutely intrigued by some of her thoughts on this issue. I asked her to expand on them for a blog post, and here it is.
Some years ago, a close friend of mine committed suicide. Still raw with shock, I was hosting a gathering of church women. While this was not a “needy” group in the sense of dealing with major life issues, I was in the role of facilitator and “giving” to the group.
Early in the afternoon before the evening meeting, I called my coach to check in with her. As I was going on about my plans, she said, “Whoa, where’s your heart in all of this?”
She encouraged me to let go of the agenda and simply give people the space to share – including acknowledging my own vulnerability. The meeting was beautiful, with real heart-connection.
It was an experience that began to help me see that my willingness to be vulnerable – to be in my sadness, to wonder about life and not have all the answers, to be a real human being – was actually a strength. To be vulnerable is a place of spirit, where heart-to-heart connection happens. This kind of connection is inspirational, builds rapport and builds community.
Vulnerability is different than our neediness. Neediness comes from our humanity. We all have deep emotional/spiritual needs for love, safety, trust, connection, peace, etc.
It is very important to be aware of the motivation behind your wanting to give to others. If you are giving from a place of trying to “fix” others, it is a clue that you have a deep need that is not being addressed. When “serving” turns into subtle or not-so-subtle “fixing,” there is an element of trying to get something to take care of your own need through your giving to others. “Fixing” has an energetic element of reaching out to grab something from others to make something inside of you feel better. This feels energetically messy and actually pushes people away.
As human beings we all have this neediness – and we need to recognize it for what it is and have our own way of taking care of it. The more challenging the issues of the people you work with, the more likely it is that there are going to be times when it brings up your “stuff” – emotional pain, sadness, anger, etc. To avoid burn-out, to keep your tank full so you can give from abundance, it is very important to have a way to care for your neediness. The deep neediness of your heart that I am speaking of can only truly be met through spiritual connection.
When you have a spiritual connection and process that supports you in receiving what you most deeply need, then you can serve others through your abundance. What flows into you from Divine Source also radiates out from you for others. It helps you maintain loving and compassionate boundaries. It helps you let go of yourself and give from grace. Born from this place of grace is the strength to be vulnerable, to be human, to meet others heart-to-heart with an abundance of spirit.
I love what my writing friend NanLeah N. Mick said, “I think that when we recognize vulnerability and allow it – befriend it – it becomes a stepping stone to wisdom.”