Becoming barb-free – Is it even possible?

A couple of weeks ago I declared that I want to explore becoming barb-free while living a more vulnerable, heart- centered life.


During a weekend workshop, titled The Dynamics of Relationship,  Don and Diane St John explained that in order to have more meaningful, rich, solid, fulfilling and satisfying primary relationships one must be able and willing to clearly communicate their needs and desires from a vulnerable heart, being okay with the discomfort of another, and also have the strength to back up their vulnerability if need be.

This is not the first time that I have heard this concept from them.  It is one that I have been exploring for a few years now.  And to be honest, although it sounds noble and right-on, it is very challenging to do and have the outcome be positive. 

And the primary reason for it being challenging is the barb(s) that

my vulnerability is encased with. 

And those of another.

From birth we begin to develop a prickly outer shell that helps us to feel protection from the constant slights, insults, and trauma that is prevalent in parenting and human nature in general.

This prickly barbed encasing of our heart is what keeps us from what we want —

love and deep connection with self and another.

I would love to claim that I am barb-free.   Hell, I have been “working” on myself for a solid decade now, I feel like I should be barb-less.  But I don’t even have to dig deep in-order to admit that expressing my vulnerability in its essence and barb-free is not something that I have mastered.

Vulnerability in its essence requires a lot of clarity, internal alignment, courage and grace. 

And a rising above (often times subconscious) barb-full tendencies. 

To claim that I am living a vulnerable, heart-centered life requires me to sense and quickly pluck any barb that is intertwined with a vulnerable expression.  And/or, immediately acknowledge the barb.

So the “work” becomes very human and very telling of past hurts.

When we claim that we are coming from heart-full vulnerability and have a (conscious or subconscious) barb attached, the receiver can feel the sticky, twisted dishonesty of the expression and in-turn responds from a place of questioning, confusion, and therefore guarded-ness; their barbs are on-point in response.


And with this interaction becomes challenging.  Relationships are ruined.  Blame takes over and eventually people move on — but that barb got bigger on both ends and sits waiting.

OR – hopefully, for those doing the “work” the barb comes to the surface and gets plucked, and learning and growing prevails. 

In my experience barbs are very sly and can easily be passed on by claiming, “that is just how I am”.

Honesty can be bitchy

Anger can be manipulation

Fear can be projection

Loneliness can be spiteful

Protection can be a barrier

Love can be a pacifier

Silence can be a scapegoat

Hurt can be an excuse

Distraction can be a cop-out

Disconnection can be energy sucking

Happiness can be a farce


A barb is made up of past hurtful experiences, assumptions, held grudges, and basically not having our emotional needs met; it is intertwined with our deep desire to be cared for, understood, and loved.  And when a barb(s) is present in any exchange with another, be it verbal, physical, or energetic – the other person can feel it, and responds with a guarded heart.

This keeps all kinds of love and affection from being in our lives.  We wonder why it is so damn hard to feel connected to another.


To be honest, I have few examples of a person living a barb free, vulnerable, heart-centered existence.

I mostly know, including myself, people who are dedicated to the path and working towards it, people who are oblivious (but opening) to what I am talking about, and people who will likely never start the “work” in this life-time.

And with this – the path of living a vulnerable, heart-centered existence can feel lonely and frustrating,

which can then trigger our barbs…..

One then is encouraged to be content with just being an example for others, not needing another to also “work”

and this becomes the work of a freaking hero-warrior-spiritual guru

that is not void of being human

and therefore becomes very vulnerable within the “work” that they have done

which can then trigger their barbs…

(ahhhh, the human existence)

I vow to just be a mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, and aunt who is trying her best and realizing how this “work” never ends.  To be human and striving for more out of life is a very interesting mixed bag.

Self compassion and self forgiveness are essential ~

along with compassion and forgiveness for others.

I don’t know that I will ever be barb-free, that is almost a denial of self in a way.

But I will continue on this path – I can feel that there are great gifts to be harvested from just the exploration alone.


Write the wrongs that are done to you in sand,

but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble.

Let go of all emotions such as resentment and retaliation,

which diminish you,

and hold onto the emotions, such as gratitude and joy,

which increase you.

~Arabic proverb


Read more on: Advocacy| Confidence| Conscious Mothers Movement| Empowerment| Vulnerability
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