Place of Serenity | Reluctant Human Being

David Whyte, poet and philosopher, says that humans are the only part of creation that can refuse to show up.

We are reluctant to be fully here. Reluctant human beings.

I absolutely recognize this, do you?

We’re often ambivalent about what we’re doing and who we are. We wish time away. We look ahead to when things might be different. And the past, of course, is not in the past.

We find it almost impossible to be present.

This makes us reluctant human beings.

We’re unlike birds, dogs or horses who all live fully present lives! No regrets or wishes to be different, other than what they are!

Simply being.

As humans we put on masks

We put masks on then forget we’re wearing them. We disguise our deepest feelings. And the elephant in the room is our vulnerability.


is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice , vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding under-current of our natural state

~ David Whyte

Place of Serenity | Reluctant human being

Vulnerability in each moment

In each moment we expect to know what is coming next. We think, ‘I know’ because if we say ‘I don’t know’ this opens us up to uncertainty. And this makes us vulnerable.

The truth, Whyte suggests, is that we constantly jump the gun and name things too early. This is our auto-pilot reaction.

Instead, consider stopping: ‘Stop the conversation for silence’.

Think of when you’ve got into an argument. You follow an unconscious train of words based on the past. Stop and listen to what’s happening on a deeper level.

Or within your own mind – you anticipate something that hasn’t yet happened, and start filling in the answers. Which often leads to anxiety and fear based on past experiences. Stop this inner conversation for silence.

Enter your human depths

As reluctant human beings we may find ourselves being half-hidden.

We refuse to share our vulnerabilities and fears. It can feel easier to hide these aspects of our life.

Yet there is no human who doesn’t experience vulnerability and fears.

We’re reluctant to be open and honest since we often find ourselves living and working in an atmosphere not conducive to this. And then, of course, it becomes habitual to keep ourselves hidden and avoid our true human depths.

However, when we can be vulnerable and present, this leads to self-compassion. And by remembering that each of us experiences feeling vulnerable, we can offer compassion to others too.

Deepen your attention

So Whyte invites us to enter each moment ‘as a frontier’.

The eye deepens the more you pay attention

~ David Whyte

Enter into this unknown depth with greater courage. Be willing to be fully here, in body and experience.

Just like we perhaps were as very young children.

Ask yourself:

‘Am I reluctant right now?’

‘Does this mean that I am playing small?’

‘Am I really present?’

As reluctant human beings, we end up not connecting with ourselves or others. We don’t really listen or truly see.

We live behind our masks and we’re never fully present or expanding into our true selves.

Don’t settle for a reluctant human being!

Throw off your reluctance!

Get inspired to become more real and present – another way to describe being mindful!


Place of Serenity | mindfulness and meditationRight-Click if you’re interested in Courses for Mindfulness and Be Kind to Yourself with Place of Serenity.



This blog post was inspired by listening to the podcast called ‘On Being’ where Krista Tippett was chatting with David Whyte. (I listened to it on Spotify which is free if you are OK with adverts).

Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Guide

Place of Serenity | Place of Serenity






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