The good, the bad, and the vulnerable

Ponder this for a moment…is it good or bad to be vulnerable? What’s your first response?

“It’s bad,” was the answer I got from my patient this past week, when I asked her what she thought. And she’s not the only one who feels that way. As with most adults who were once children of abuse, vulnerability is something to be protected against. Because from an early age it is learned that people can use this vulnerability to take advantage or cause harm. It leaves you open to hurt. If that’s your early lesson about openness, why in the world would you ever want to be vulnerable again? But while vulnerability does leave you open, there is both good AND bad to be found in that openness, isn’t there? How are we to truly and meaningfully connect to another if we aren’t able to allow ourselves to be open? It’s in the vulnerability that we are able to love and be loved. When we are too scared to vulnerable with another, we shut ourselves off from the very thing that fully sustains us as humans – meaningful connection with other humans. Love is the biggest gift we get on this earth, and when we are closed, it is not fully available to us.

So, what is there to do about it? How do we learn how to turn something so scary into something rewarding? Well, as with anything that is blocking us and causing problems, we need to be aware that it is happening and the choices we are making. In this awareness, we can decide what perspective to take and what choices to make. Ask yourself if you are getting what you need emotionally from those around you these days? If you are feeling like you are making the connections that you want with others? If your communications have become troublesome and stagnant? If you feel like nobody understands you? If the answers to these questions aren’t answers that you’re happy with, chances are that somewhere along the line you may have closed down or shut off in an attempt to protect yourself, but instead just ended up isolating yourself. For some independent people that may be OK for awhile, but eventually most of us will whither without the water of love in our lives.

Is it possible to to change your view on vulnerability? Is it worth the risk? Maybe experiment a little to find out. Tell yourself it’s O.K. to be vulnerable if you choose, in order to bring closeness and connection into your life. Pick a trusted friend or loved one. Open up. Be a little brave. Share your love with them, a happy memory with them, or even a small secret. Start out small and work on your comfort level. Whatever it is, though, share truthfully and from your heart. Notice how it feels. Experiment. Open and close with purpose and intention. Be mindful of when it is important to cover up or to stay open. Learn how to choose and be flexible with that choice. Most of all recognize that it is your choice. You are an adult and if someone takes advantage of the vulnerability, you can let them know, and more importantly you can heal. A child learns the hard lessons, an adult is able to revisit them and decide whether those lessons still apply or need to be reworked.

Is it good to be vulnerable? As I told the thoughtful woman in my office who inspired this blog topic…sometimes it just may be…

Here’s to discovering love and happiness in your life!

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer


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