The Power of Vulnerability – spiritual wisdom from Zenerife

This blog is for people that want to get to know me better. As I will show another part of me that I don’t show often in public. Vulnerability… It will take you about 14 minutes of your precious time.

In the last three weeks I have cried more than I had cried in the five years before. It’s the consequence of a training on self leadership where I had to embrace my biggest fears. To look at them and feel those pains of which I (the ego) decided long time ago that I NEVER wanted to feel again… Those pains that were so painful to me that I built big walls around the pain in order to “protect” myself…

So maybe now you ask why someone would deliberately look at his / her pain? To feel that pain, to go into that pain again… “That sounds masochistic or perverse..” or maybe your ego screams “Hell NO” been there, done that, not doing it again.” The problem here is that as long as we keep telling ourselves this “NO”, we will be reliving the pain again and again and again… Hurting ourselves and others in the process unnecessarily.  And that’s what over 99,99% of the world population is doing on a daily basis… And I am trying to escape that, because I believe that this will make this world a better place **see Appendix**

Therefore I participated in an intensive four day training where I had to confront my personal demons while working in a group and two trainers in order not to let my ego play tricks on me. They were all fully committed to bringing my ego down to its knees by flooding it with love. So, Rob tell me how does the story end? Well, they succeeded, they literally blew up (a part of) my ego. It felt that way, it was enormous, it was super intense, it literally built up to incredible heights (I start to cry remembering it) and it just blew out the fuses after which I fell into an enormous empty space, a silence, a touch of what spiritual teachers call, silence, presence, love, god, universe, home, wholeness and that’s pretty spectacular… Of course, reality grabs you by the nuts pretty quickly afterwards, however things have changed on a deeper level…

So, here is the thing, I have problems showing my vulnerability. There is a big “Hell NO” on sharing with others that I am often scared, that I often feel frustrated, but that I am afraid to share it with others because I am afraid that they will not understand or that they can’t handle my pain…

So in order to take responsibility for myself, my environment and the world I went very, very deep in those four days. I went to places within myself that I have not been able to look at with love for long. These dark places hurt me so badly that somewhere in the past my ego decided “hell NO. Not going back there, NEVER want to experience that pain again”. And at that very moment the ego will create a nice strategy / mask that it can perform / wear. And that’s what everyone does…

Hence I have been working on the mask I call “Homo Universalis”, the “Hey I can handle everything, don’t you worry about me, I will show you I am ok”  because it is still not balanced with its counterpart “Vulnerability”, the “Please I need your understanding your support, your love as well.” Together these two counterparts create balance & wholeness. Beautifully illustrated by the Ying & Yan symbol below. (spoiler alert, this symbol will decorate my left arm shortly to balance for the “ohm” on my right arm).

The reason why I created this mask and why I was hurt is, amongst other things, that when I was 19 years old and my first girlfriend broke up our relationship it broke my heart. It really felt as if my heart broke… Actually, it felt like a knife being stabbed in my heart and twisted. It hurt and I had problems breathing…. I felt lost and confused. Alone, very alone. I was in a very, very dark place…

I felt abandoned by my “one and only love“. Not feeling whole on my own. And of course my surroundings (family & friends) could not (and should not) fill that “gap”. With theory of hindsight I know now that the deeper issue was that I did not love / respect myself and needed external validation (the girlfriend) to fill that lack of self-love and self-respect. And (luckily) my family and friends were not able to meet the requirements of needy me to directly repair that gaping wound of lack of self-love that was torn open again when that relationship ended.

So instead of looking at the pain, the ego convinced me there was an easier way to resolve this issue… “Hey loser! Listen up! Don’t act so weak, pick up yourself, work on yourself! Make sure no one can ever hurt you again. How? Easy, just make sure you can do everything yourself, so you don’t need those others, you can’t trust them anyway. You know that, they have proven that time and again, don’t trust them!”

So I (the ego) created a mask called ‘Homo Universalis’ a sort of superman. Of course this did not work out that great because by following this strategy in order not to feel my pain I neglected my longing for being understood and connection with others (feeling love and compassion). If you know me for some time you probably recognise this behaviour… So driven that everything around the goal I had set, seemed to vanish and I received exactly that what I feared: not being understood by others, not being able to connect with others etcetera. And this triggers the “feedback loop from hell” which implies the ego saying: “Told you so, they are not to be trusted… Work harder!!!” and making me feel that darkness again.

So please, please, please accept my apologies for having acted at times like such an asshole, such a maniac, dictatorial dominant force or whatever you might call it. I am quite sure my pain caused others pain as well and that has never been my intention. My behaviour at those times was based on darkness, creating darkness in others as well. And that, ladies and gentleman, is how eventually wars are created as collective manifestations of all our individual pain. And that’s why I see it as my responsibility to choose love each time and that’s pretty damn difficult, even for a homo universals…

Think I am exaggerating? Well, let me share my ugly thoughts. When I get angry dark clouds obscure my love and that my raging, wild, uncontrollable thoughts include kicking the shit out of people…

I haven’t done it, however the energy is present and that energy will be picked up by others, as all we are is energy, EVERYTHING is connected and energy cannot be eliminated only transformed… So, although I might not actually kick the shit out of someone it might trigger other people in an even darker place at that certain point in time to do so. After which I can blame him/her for having done such a terrible thing, however I was involved…

This feels really bad to say, to accept my ugliest thoughts, this darkness. However, not accepting (giving love to) the pain underneath that darkness will ensure that (indirectly) this ugliness is manifested in the world…

During this training I worked on showing love for this part in me. Or call it shining light on this pain and the wall we have built around the pain. I will call the wall the “NO”. In my case the “NO” is showing “VULNERABILITY”, ie accepting people to help me, showing my feelings, saying I am very, very scared for a lot of things in my life. However, we need to accept that “NO” in order to arrive at love, which is wholeness, that what we essentially are.

As said my solution was being “homo universals” ie To go at it… To attack that what I am scared of… To push that gas throttle even deeper… That’s why I burnt out six years ago…. I was just fighting, attacking all things that might potentially “harm” me… And it drained me completely energetically…

Of course, I could not accept help, so I decided directly to fix the shit myself…. I remember I told my boss after five days “Don’t you worry, I am taking rest, I am talking to a psychologist, she teaches me mindfulness and I will be up and running in no time!” Hello ego!

Luckily, the recovery took longer and also my employer and I decided it was better to end our working relationship.

Hence, I started to follow training in personal development, spiritual guidance, silence retreats, moving abroad, building my own automated online business… A little history repeating? Yes, and no. Let’s first start with the why it was different from my “Homo Universalis” (darkness based) mask.  Many of those things I did because I truly am passionate about them. I love anything that has to do with personal development (from health, breath work, focus, priority management, relationship coaching all the way up to the deeper spiritual stuff I am talking to right now). So that’s something I do out of love. Travel (and connecting with people, understanding their world view) is what I do out of  love as well. So is spending time with friends, enjoying nature and the majority of things I do.

What I still do or “suffer” from is being afraid that others don’t understand me or don’t see my good intentions and hence that they might hurt my feelings. This causes me to now and then become ‘Rampage Robbie” again and feeling that darkness again. An example is that during the first two years of living here in Tenerife I gave myself (and therefore also my surroundings) a hard time because I felt frustrated, very frustrated about how my Spanish was (not) progressing (my perception, from a rational point of view it’s really bullshit). So, how did that manifest? And how did it resolve?

  • I have literally told my teacher (David) he was an absolute asshole. That he was behaving like a dominant military leader. And if he would ever do “that” again, he could go and screw himself… (see the ‘beautiful’ projection of myself on him?). This behaviour was clearly based on darkness. The consequence? David responded with darkness. Luckily David and I took this situation of darkness as a spiritual challenge and now we are connected at a much deeper level based on respect and love. David is one of the few people I really open up to and he knows me (the good, the bad AND the ugly) very well. I see him much more than a friend to me than teacher (although we speak to each other two hours per week under the definition “class”). So in case I haven’t told you yet : ¡Te quiero hasta el cielo!
  • I was so upset with this that I actually started to think of moving to a place where the just spoke English… Hence almost letting darkness (frustration with Spanish) push away the love I have for Tenerife (the vibe, the people, the climate, the outdoor activities, the quality time with our visitors). My “Homo Universalis” solution was to increase my classes to about twenty hours a week in order to speed up the process. As this decision was made out of darkness it didn’t last long. I actually started to feel as I had felt before I burnt out. And started to blame myself for being such a weak person. “You loser, you have been working on yourself for at least seven years now and what have you learned? NOTHING you suck big time man, you could have done so much more with that time, sucker…” “You’re not spending that much time on earning your income, so pick up yourself and spend 40 hours on Spanish, loser…”

So luckily I recognised this extremely complex mechanism and called one of the few persons in this world that I know can make me look into the mirror, that I trust enough to accept her help AND can make me look deeper inside myself to get me on the right track again. Thank you, Annemarie.. That session and the training have worked miracles for me… For anyone that wants to check out why I say that Annemarie is one of the best trainer / coach I know please visit her personal leadership training page or executive coaching page.

I am crying right now, because at the same time it hurts me to say that there are so few people I currently trust enough. Either because I think it will not help me, they will not understand me or that they will not be able to cope with my pain and therefore I need to protect them…. I need to realise that my feelings are my feelings and their feelings are their feelings. If everyone stay on his/her own ground we will all be fine and we will be able to look at it with love and connection.

I am learning to trust…. I am learning to share my feelings (amongst others by crying and showing that vulnerability as well) and it is working, however it is intense. First, I practiced with nine wonderful people during this 4-day training. After the training I have showed my vulnerability to Kim. This will of course definitely change a lot in our relationship. Letting go (more) of my “homo universals” ie “don’t you worry babe, I will take care of everything and protect you” to also showing my vulnerable side ie “Listen Kim, I am scared as shit for lots of things and I am not as tough as I show to the outside world… I do feel fear, people do actually hurt my feelings and that causes a lot of pain I don’t like. Please help me”  However, take it easy. please ask… My pain is my pain, not yours just let it be.. Thank you for listening and being there for me… I am I and you are you…

Now I am sharing the more vulnerable Rob with basically anyone who wants to know. Love you all and enjoy the ride….



Instead of looking outwards, it becomes an opportunity to look inwards. I bring these abandoned parts from the darkness back into the love, until I know myself as this love. It is a journey of (spiritual) awakening


** Appendix: why, in my opinion, the world is need of this spiritual stuff. Why this will make this world a better place…

I believe it’s important to constantly keep improving ourselves. To contribute to a higher cause that is larger than us, to create a world with more love and less fear. Not having a cause bigger than ourselves (I, the ego) will disconnect us from the truth (wholeness, love). Or said otherwise more light and less darkness. Love is light and fear is darkness and both exist in this world. However every single moment in our lives we are making a choice to choose for love/light or fear/darkness. This is very important, because darkness/fear cannot persist in the presence of light/love. When the shit hits the fan in the world (war, disease, abuse) etcetera it means that there exists enough individual darkness to manifest in such a collective manner. If on the other hand every individual would take responsibility and transmit love only it would be impossible for that collective darkness to exist.  So by working on our own darkness by giving it love it will not be able to flourish. So if you want to make this place a better world please, please, please  stop pointing to “them”, because by doing that you do the same as what you are blaming “them” for…. You are spreading fear & darkness instead of love & light.

Here’s some inspiration to spread love! Yeah, troetelbeertjes!

And if you think that this is some sort of spiritual bulllshit, that’s fine with me. I will say with love and a smile “Meditate on that motherfucker” or “Namaste bitch”. Because darkness can’t persist in the presence of light… Do you choose love or fear? Light or darkness?

2 reacties

  1. 1.5 YEARS TOM @ZENERIFE – Zenerife op 2 juni 2018 om 9:28 am

    […] I flew back again with mom and we spent some quality time together while dad was in Portugal to do another training and visit some friends that are building a rural escape over […]

  2. Zenerife | The 4 hour workweek op 6 oktober 2018 om 7:39 pm

    […] was suffocating and did not allow me to enjoy the situation I had created for myself. Of course my ‘homo universalis’ mask did not help here […]

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