Lesson #59: The power of vulnerable connection

Circles of Life ring — ‘connect’

A random jump into the unknown

So I jumped onto a Zoom call today, quite spontaneously. I’d just sat down at my desk, feeling scattered and not clear on what to do or where to start. An email came through from an enneagram teacher, Ben Saltzman, that a call was happening RIGHT NOW and to come on in. I clicked.

So I’m in the Zoom room with a bunch of strangers (apart from Ben), not really sure what I‘m doing there. And he’s talking about ‘circling’ .. which I vaguely remembered doing at the workshop I did seven years ago in Santa Cruz. I’ve teleported into this free enneagram workshop, on a whim, and I’m feeling a bit lost.

A circling experience

We get put into smaller groups to practice this ‘circling’ exercise — in which one person is at the centre (being circled) and the others are doing the circling (holding space, listening, attuning, practicing relational skills). And I’m chosen to be at the centre.

So now I’m being witnessed by three other women and I really don’t know what I’m meant to be saying. I’ve gone into my ‘type 5’ ways .. wondering what to say, mind racing, full of doubt, spinning in both my head and my chest as a flurry of words describe my feelings of discomfort, of guilt at ‘taking up space’, of feeling a bit stupid and like I don’t know what to do or to say .. ashamed that I’m not really making a ‘contribution’.

And it’s all learning — the being at the centre and the witnessing. I saw the space I go into when I feel I don’t know what to do .. and those watching got to experience it and to offer their reflections, and also to get some insight into us enigmatic type 5s. And all in all it’s a form of ‘authentic relating’ .. of holding space, of active listening, of attunement, of being present and connecting.

My first catalytic experience

It took me back to my first experience of circling which, though distressing, was a catalyst for me to take action to transform my life.

In that circle I was observing, but I was aware that this was my ‘safe space’. We had been advised at the start of the circle that we weren’t to say anything, we were simply to listen. A couple of times I found myself wanting to say something and hearing the warning not to say anything, and each time I stopped myself I saw myself shrinking back into myself. In the intensity of the moment I could see a lifetime of myself not speaking up and how I was disappearing myself to the point I hardly existed. I had all but lost touch with my inner voice and I’d grown used to deferring to the louder and more definite voices (and needs) of others.

My declaration

At the end of that three day workshop I declared that I would ‘say what needs to be said’. That was seven years ago. Since then I have been practicing speaking up in all sorts of ways. And as my experience today showed .. I’m still a work in progress.

A welcome reminder

Thanks to the call today, I’m reminded of the power and beauty of being vulnerable and connected with others. And I will take this as a reminder and recommit. Because every voice is valuable (not just the loud ones). And in speaking my truth I step into life and my world expands.

Thanks for being a witness.

Orly

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Orly Grace

Orly Grace

Orly Grace writes lessons from life to inspire and empower. See her other creations at www.circlesoflife.net