Growing up, I repeatedly believed the message that I was too sensitive. I’ve found it difficult to be authentic in arenas where my emotional reality was inconvenient for other people. I learned to hide what I felt and self-abandon. But hiding reinforced the very message of inadequacy I was running from. It was a disempowering cycle.
A couple of years ago, I was the client in a counseling session (yes, many therapists also go to therapy), and I was working through accepting the core of who I am. Through visualization techniques, I had the image of a butterfly fluttering towards me.
In this image, the butterfly landed gently on my knee and I heard the statement, “gentle is strong.” This was a transformational moment for me. I felt a good portion of the shame I had carried about who I am relaxing and melting away.
I was able to see the paradox more clearly that strength and power are often reflected in what is vulnerable and fragile. I immediately got curious about butterflies and visited a nearby butterfly pavilion. While there, I was particularly captivated by the long monarch migration from Canada to Mexico, as well as the way butterflies emerge transformed out of their chrysalises.
I was fascinated by how something so small and delicate could achieve such incredible feats. Even the butterflies in the pavilion that were tattered and their colors dulling were strikingly beautiful to me. They hadn’t tried to save their beauty or preserve their fragile wings; their life reflected freedom and courage to me and reminded me that sometimes the things that fade can lead us to a deeper appreciation of their gifts.
I ran from the truth of my sensitivity for a long time because I believed it must have been something shamefully defective in me.
My perspective has shifted. I have come to believe that the thing inside of us- whatever it may be- that feels most fragile or unacceptable is often the very thing that leads to authenticity when its embraced by us.
Authenticity is undeniably empowering to us and the people around us. In a culture where we are often taught not to be weak or vulnerable, this can be a revolutionary shift. But what a relief to think that maybe our flaws, cracks, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses don’t need to be hidden. What a relief it was for me to know it’s ok to be myself. I plan to continue to visit the butterfly pavilion every year on my birthday to remind myself: there is power in fragility.