Many years ago, I took a class on team building with a company I worked for. My then boss was a participant, or so he promised. But he couldn’t pull it off. He sat outside the circle of his employees – a power position – and when one of them moved his things into the circle during a break, he took over teaching from the hired trainer.
I found it annoying. His voice grated and later I found it annoyed other people too. He couldn’t see himself, this man who preached self-awareness. He couldn’t see that he wrapped his power around him like a thick winter coat protecting him from vulnerability.
I’m reading a wonderful book, A Student of Weather, partly set in the flesh searing cold of a Saskatchewan winter and it strikes me that vulnerability is like that. Being wide open to life, to this moment, unmasked, unguarded feels like skin exposed to the relentless burning of ice. It is no wonder we wrap ourselves in anything we can find to hide our nakedness.
My boss wrapped himself in the power of his position. For years, I wrapped myself in the power of my intelligence, and worse, in the pretence of not caring. You can wrap yourself in anything: intelligence or stupidity, beauty or ugliness, success or failure, a job, a talent, caring, benevolence, anger… We can hide behind almost anything. The first trick is to become aware that what we’re doing is hiding.
The second is to do something about it. Continued…