According to Wikipedia: “An Achilles’ heel is a deadly weakness in spite of overall strength that can actually or potentially lead to downfall.”
As I continue to grow and learn, a familiar theme is always present: What issues set off my vulnerabilities, doubts, and fears? I continue to attempt to bear witness to my core pain, the suffering that I create if I avoid observing my pain, and the weakness that evolves in spite of my overall strength. Being present enough to identify authentic feelings can be challenging. Often, we are triggered by something externally that causes a chain reaction within. Some vulnerability that we prefer not to face is suddenly our Achilles’ heel. When we are prompted, our potential to drag ourselves down can effortlessly increase until we feel weakened.
For most of us, we will have many triggers that become our Achilles’ heel. I can say with optimism and hope that as we give voice to our inner pain and vulnerabilities, we heal. The issues that once elicited weakness and suffering no longer hold the power of reactivity as we bring them into the light. The more I identify my triggers, the greater my capacity for peace and equanimity. Drama and stress give way to genuine power. That said, what about the times when my Achilles’ heel leads me towards feeling off center and questioning my power?
As I seek to identify that which steers me towards disempowerment, I recognize that an Achilles’ heel can take unlimited shape and form. The more we keep our pain hidden, the broader the range of disguises a trigger can wear. Instead of seeing the foot, we dress it up with socks and shoes in an attempt to hide it from our awareness. When we seek authenticity, we create space for clearer vision and honest observation. Observation that does not promote or deny what we are feeling. Observation that can give way to open evaluation, so we can begin to make a candid assessment of what is really happening.
Often, we are the prompt for another’s Achilles’ heel. We may not understand why someone reacts so strongly to our presence. In spite of our best efforts, there are going to be those who simply do not care for us. In my experience, triggering another’s Achilles’ heel can feel like being invisible. It’s as if it doesn’t matter what I say or how I behave, she or he reacts to my presence with defensiveness or other unpleasantness. This in turn can trigger my own vulnerability as I attempt to observe and evaluate what my true share of responsibility is.
Codependency is a concept usually relating to addiction relationships. However, there are many levels of codependent behavior. Any time we feel responsible for more than our fair share, and in turn behave in a manner that attempts to reconcile the pain and suffering born from that by gaining approval, we are exhibiting codependency. On the flip side, another can be blaming and attempting to manipulate us into taking responsibility for his or her feelings. Both are attempts to mask core pain and feelings of inadequacy and can easily become an Achilles’ heel.
As I heal, I continue to explore my own Achilles’ heel, and my relationship to genuine power in the midst of challenging relationships. I am happy to say that I am far more aware of where my vulnerabilities lie enabling me to create healthier boundaries. I am now able to more easily recognize when another is attempting to manipulate me by prompting my hope of being loved, liked, and accepted – according to his or her standards. I may still stumble into a trap, but I find my way to freedom. Loving kindness has nothing to do with compliance. Respect and genuine caring are reflected when we shine the light on our own being. Responding appropriately verses feeling responsible allows us to stand strong on our heels. Empowerment and strength prevail. The downfall becomes less deadly. Compassion flows more freely.