A Coaching Power Tool Created by Cecile Chevereau
(Life Coach, GERMANY)
They need to feel safe, valuable, and loved is at the core of the human experience.
This need has focused our attention outward toward what is external. More and more, we can notice that a new shift appears within the human species: we begin to look at the external world of things, experiences, interactions as a mirror reflecting an internal world of intentions, emotions and thoughts.
This path inward allows us to align our personality with our true self.
One way or another, each human being has been wounded by its childhood. Those wounds have created what we can call an “armour”, this “thing” that we build at an early age to protect ourselves, to avoid feeling pain and suffering, to fit in, to get love, to feel accepted and connected.
The problem is, this armour creates as an adult the exact opposite of what we are looking for: it disconnects us from others, makes us feel lonely and miserable inside and prevents us from truly blossoming and offering to the world the gifts we have within us.
The book “The Knight” by Robert Fisher helped me to fully understand and embrace what this armour really is, how it manifests and interferes in our connection to others and to ourselves. This story also showed me the courage and the commitment that it requires to free ourselves from this armour. This path of freedom leads us to our own vulnerability, to our own worthiness as human being … to Life.
Here is a summary of this book:
This knight was very famous in the village for his shiny armour and all the battles he had won. As time passed, he identified himself so much with his armour that he kept wearing it all the time, even for eating and for sleeping. He wore it so much that his wife and his son couldn’t remember who he was under his armour. They had only a portrait on the wall to look at when they wanted to see how he really looks like. The wife and the sun began to miss the man behind the armour, that the wife asked him to get rid of his armour. The knight first protested but finally conceded when she threatened him to leave him if he wouldn’t do it.
The knight first tried on his own but the armour was stuck, he couldn’t get rid of it. He then decided to go to the blacksmith of the village. But even the blacksmith, the strongest man in the village, couldn’t help him. In despair, the knight decided to leave the village convinced that “somewhere there must be someone who knows how to get this armour off.”
On his way to leave the village, the court jester told the knight: “we are all stuck in the armour of a kind. You must see Merlin the Magician. Then, you will discover how to be free. In yonder woods, the sage doth dwell.” The knight decided to go to the woods, not knowing exactly when he would find Merlin. But as the jester reminded him: “The teacher appears when the pupil is ready.”
The knight rode for a very long time in the woods trying to find Merlin. In vain! He felt weak and discouraged. When he finally met Merlin, he said to him: I have been looking for you, I have been lost for months”. – You have been lost all your life” corrected Merlin. The knight didn’t like this answer that he took for an insult. “Perhaps you have always taken the truth to be an insult” Merlin replied.
Merlin explained how important it is to pause in order to learn. And the fact that the knight is weak will help him to stay in one place for a while. Merlin also told the knight that he donned his armour in the first place because he was afraid. He was not born with it! The knight was very impatient to get rid of his armour, but as Merlin reminded him:” Patience !! You have been wearing that armour for a long time. You cannot get out of it just like that.”
The knight explained to Merlin that he had to put this armour to protect him because he didn’t want to get killed or injured during the battles. And that he decided to go to the battles to prove that he was good, kind and loving. When Merlin asked him why he had to prove it, the knight didn’t know what to answer. When the knight was asking a question, the knight was annoyed because Merlin will always answer with a question. When the knight asked why Merlin replied: “And why do you always seek the answers to your questions from others?”
After having spent some time in the woods with Merlin, the knight began to talk with a squirrel! He thought he was losing his mind and wanted to get out of the woods. But then Merlin reassured him by telling him that he was becoming sensitive enough to feel the vibrations of others. “You did not talk to the squirrel in words, but you felt his vibrations, and you translated those vibrations into words.” The knight had enough of all this new non-sense and wanted to go back now to his wife and to his son. He finally decided not to, when he got the message from his son that he was not welcome yet. The knight tried to choke back the tears, “for knights in shining armour never cry.” But his grief overwhelmed him and he began to cry.
What the knight considered as an act of weakness – to cry -, Merlin acknowledged that he had just taken the first step toward getting out of his armour!
The knight was confused. “Really?” He didn’t know what to do next. He first wanted to get rid of his armour for his wife and for his son. But now, who for? Maybe, he has lost his family forever? His previous life as the knight was not tempting anymore after this time spent in the woods with Merlin and the animals… Merlin made him realize that his new purpose in life was to get free from this armour for himself, just for himself: to be able to feel the warmth of a kiss, to smell the sweet fragrance of a flower or hear a beautiful melody without the armour getting in the way. The armour had become a steel prison.
Merlin then gave a choice to the knight: go back to the old path with the armour or follow the so-called Path of Truth which stands in front of him. This Path looked narrower as the previous one and very steep, even steeper as it approached the summit of the mountain, but could free him from his armour. The knight was not enthusiastic by looking at this tough climb. Finally, he decided to follow this Path, which requires a lot of courage, which Merlin acknowledged him for. The worst was to come when the knight learned that he couldn’t continue his journey sitting on his horse – the path was too narrow and too steep for that!! Instead, the Squirrel and Rebecca, a pigeon, volunteered to accompany him and help him. What a joke for a knight to get the support of those two little animals!! But their willingness to help restore the knight’s courage.
Before he left, Merlin told him that he will find three Castles on this way: The Castle of silence, The Castle of Knowledge and the Castle of Will and Daring. Somehow, the knight sensed that his journey was going to be much more difficult than any of his crusades. Merlin who was reading the thoughts of the knight said to him: “ Yes, there is a different battle to be fought on the Path of Truth. The fight will be learning to love yourself. And the first step is to know yourself.”
The knight left with the Squirrel and Rebecca, leaving his sword behind. From time to time, Rebecca flew ahead and returned to report what lay in store. After a few hours, the knight collapsed, exhausted and sore. He wasn’t used to travelling without his horse. Rebecca and Squirrel fed the knight with berries and nuts, which they pushed through the holes in the knight’s visor. And everybody fell asleep. When the knight woke up the next morning, he suddenly realized that he could see more than he could the day before, that he could feel the cool air against his face !! His visor had broken off !! Squirrel gave him the reason why: “From the tears, you cried after you saw your son’s answer.” His tears had actually started to break down the steel surrounding him. “Tears from real feelings will release me from my armour” realized the knight.
The next day, the knight reached the first Castle, the Castle of Silence. He was alone inside, Squirrel and Rebecca waited for him on the other side. Very quickly, he noticed that there seemed to be no door leading out of the room and there was an extraordinary, eerie silence. The knight suddenly met someone in the castle: the King of his village himself! The knight was very surprised to see him here on the Path of Truth! But the King explained that “one never finishes travelling the Path of Truth. Each time I come here, I find new doors as I understand more and more.” And kindly said to him: “This is a new kind of crusade for you, dear Knight – one that requires more courage than all other battles you’ve fought before. It will be your greatest victory if you can summon the strength to stay and do what’s needed here.”
The knight sat in despair and after a bit of time, he acknowledged that he was afraid to be alone. At that moment, he saw a door in the wall and he could then enter another room. Each time, the knight learned understood something about himself, a door would appear to him. But each time, the room got smaller…. it is in this silence that he cried for the second time feeling how he had shut down his feeling of sadness and loneliness all those years, as well as being blind to the feelings of others, his wife included. He almost drowned in his tears. And then, in this eerie, total silence he could hear a voice within him, a voice he never heard before, even though the voice had already spoken to him many times …. his “real me”. They both agree to call this new voice “Sam”.
The knight fell asleep exhausted from crying and feeling his emotions. When he woke up, Rebecca and the Squirrel were on his side: He was out of the Castle of Silence, and the whole helmet was gone!! “You must have cried again in the Castle of Silence”, said joyfully his two companions!
Next step: The Castle of Knowledge. This time, his two companions are staying with the knight and so is…Sam! In this Castle, everything was dark. The knight couldn’t see anything. He could only find two glowing inscriptions:
“Knowledge is the light by which you shall find your way” and “Have you mistaken the need for love.”The knight began to think about his relationship to his wife and to his son and with the time realized that he needed the love of Juliet and Christopher because he didn’t love himself. He cried then harder and harder, as he discovered this truth about himself. He can love others only to the extent that he loves himself. From that moment, there was no darkness in this Castle anymore for the knight.
Rebecca then found an old crummy mirror in this Castle: a mirror that shows what you are really like. At his own astonishment, the knight saw a charming, vital person whose eyes shone with compassion and love. Sam explained to the knight that he was seeing his true potential: to be beautiful and innocent. The knight came to understand that he built this armour to hide his true feelings out of the fear that nobody would have liked him otherwise. He was about to cry thinking of the time wasted his life but then Sam made him realized that “Tears of self-pity end up in disgust. They’re not the kind that causes the armour to rust”.
Suddenly, Squirrel found a big apple tree growing in the centre of this Castle. On this tree, the knight could read: “for this fruit, I impose no condition, but may you now learn about ambition.”
Merlin appeared and said: ”Humans are born beautiful, innocent, and perfect. What could be better than that?” The ambition that comes from the mind can get you nice castles and fine horses. However, only ambition from the heart can bring happiness. Ambition from the heart is pure. It competes with no one and harms no one. In fact, it serves one in such a way that it serves others at the same time. The “Appletree has become handsome and fully mature, bearing fine fruit, which it gives freely to all. The more apples people pick, the more the tree grows and the more beautiful it becomes. This tree is doing exactly what apple trees are meant to do – fulfilling its potential to the benefit of all. The same applies to people when they have ambition from the heart.”
At that very moment, where the knight pledged that from now on his ambition will come from his heart, the Castle of Knowledge disappeared, and the knight was back on the Path of Truth.
The trio finally reached the Castle of Will and Daring. At the front door stood a terrifying dragon: The Dragon of fear and doubt. Rebecca explained to the knight that the knight himself is the one who makes the blue flames of the dragon real by believing that the dragon is real. “If you believe the Dragon of Fear and Doubt is real, you give it the power to burn your behind – or anything else”. Sam added: “if you face the dragon, there is a chance it will destroy you, but if you don’t face the dragon, it will surely destroy you.” The knight realized how decisions become simple when there is no alternative. After several unsuccessful tries, the knight went to confront the dragon again, marching this time toward the dragon chanting over and over “fear and doubt are illusions.” The flames of the dragon were still reaching the knight but they were not burning him anymore. As a matter of fact, when the knight continued to approach the Castle, the dragon became smaller and smaller until he reached the size of a frog. The knight won but the dragon promised to come back again and again to test the self-knowledge of the knight.
Back to the Path of Truth, the three companions could see now the top of the mountain., even though the path appeared to be much steeper than before. At some point, it was blocked by a huge rock where it was written:” Through this universe I own, I possess not a thing, for I cannot know this unknown if to the known I cling.” The knight despite his exhaustion began to think and realize that he used to cling to so many things: his identity, his beliefs, his judgments … “would I have to let go and fall into the abyss of the unknown?” Sam advised to let go and trust Life, the force, the universe, God. – whatever he wants to call it.” Down, down, the knight decided to plunge into the infinite depth of his memories. All of a sudden, he became aware that he was responsible for his life, for the influence people had on it, and for the events that had shaped it. This awareness gave him a new sense of power. In fact, it made him very calm. It is at this moment, that he could feel that he was falling upward, knowing that he was joined with both heaven and earth.
Suddenly he found himself standing on top of the mountain and fully understood the inscription on the rock: he had to let go of all that he had feared and all that he had known and possessed. His heart overflowed with love – for himself, for his wife, for his son, for Merlin, for Squirrel and Rebecca, for life itself and for the entire wondrous world. The knight dropped to his knees, tears of gratitude flowing from his eyes. Because they came from his heart, they were extremely hot and quickly melted away the last of his armour. The knight cried out with joy. He smiled through his tears unaware that a radiant new light now shone from him – a light far brighter and more beautiful than his armour at its polished best. He was one with the universe. He was Love.
As we learn from this story, we are not born with our armour. We build it out of fear. It helps us to hide our true feelings out of fear that nobody would like us otherwise, that we would feel disconnected.
“Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, I won’t be worthy of connection? “Brene Brown found out during her research on shame and vulnerability that “people who have a strong sense of worthiness, have a strong sense of love and belonging. They believe they are worthy of love and belonging. Wholehearted people live from this deep sense of worthiness.
They have a connection as a result of authenticity. They are willing to let go of who they thought they “should be” in order to be who they are.”
The way out to our armour and the portal to Vulnerability, to Life and Love, is: TO FEEL and TO TRUST, as shown in the story of the knight.
Vulnerability is pure courage, exposure, emotional risk, uncertainty – Brene Brown
Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.
What is “courage”? Courage, from the Latin word, “cor” means“Coeur” in French, “heart” in English. It is about telling who you are with your whole heart. Those who live in vulnerability have the courage to be imperfect.
I will finish this power tool with the words of Oprah Winfrey who gave this definition of vulnerability, when interviewed by Brene Brown:
Vulnerabilty is being willing to express the truth, no matter what, the truth of who you are, the essence at your core, what you are feeling at any given moment, it is being able to open up your soul and let it flow so that other people can see their soul in yours. Oprah Winfrey
Give me the courage to stand the pain to get the grace – Unknown.
Brene BROWN, PhD.:
Dare to lead
Ted Ex Vulnerability
Netflix, Brené Brown
The heart of the soul