The Beauty of Vulnerability!
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you’re walking down the street and you realize you’re naked? Everyone around you is staring, but there’s nothing you can do about it. You feel helpless and ashamed.
Being vulnerable is kind of like that. Only your heart is naked. Maybe that’s even scarier.
The thing is, that in order to have close and intimate relationships with anyone, vulnerable is the only way to be. It's not possible to get to really know someone or have them really get to know you if your heart is closed.
Opening your heart is scary stuff, especially if you've been hurt in the past and trust is a big issue. That's understandable. But the flip side is that staying closed prevents you from letting the good in, and the people who will love and support you. Keeping your heart closed is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Why is it so difficult to open up and be vulnerable?
1) Fear of being judged.
You don't want to be criticized or looked down upon. If you become vulnerable and open up to someone, they might reject you. And that may just be too painful. So the solution is stay shut in within yourself. Sure, you may not get hurt, but you may not get a chance to be loved either.
2) Fear of not being good enough.
Exposing yourself leaves you open to the disapproval of others. Sharing the unattractive parts of who you are, what you do, what you say feels too scary. On platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., you can always monitor what you share, and it's usually good. The goal is to get "Likes." But if you were to say or do something that isn't up to the expectation of others, you might get rebuffed and feel ashamed. Or you might find out others feel the same, and that will create a bond.
3) Fear of being betrayed.
Betrayal is another reason why you may clam up. If you share yourself to someone and they turn on you, the pain may almost be too much to bear. Here's an example...you tell your girlfriend about something that happened to you when you were younger. It was a very painful situation, and one that you don't share often. Then that evening at a party, your girlfriend gets a little drunk and says, "Did you hear what happened to Jim? OMG, that was so terrible!" At that point, you'd want to disappear. That would certainly make you weary of opening up again to anyone.
All of the above are valid. Being vulnerable with the wrong person can lead to getting hurt. The solution, however, is not hiding, but being very selective. You have to be smart about whom you’re going to let in. Not everyone deserves to know the true, inner you.
Having said that, being vulnerable with people you safe with, can deepen the relationships immensely. Let's take a look at the benefits of being vulnerable.
1) It shows self-acceptance.
When you are vulnerable with someone, it's letting that person see you. And that means that you are OK with who you are. You own yourself and are willing to share that part of you.
2) It increases intimacy in the relationship.
When someone shares something personal, don't you feel like you want to share something as well? The best way to get close to someone is to let someone in, not to keep them at a distance. Again, be very discerning about who that person is. Make sure you can trust them. When you do find that you can trust them, then be yourself and be proud of who you are.
3) You'll weed out the people you don't want.
If allow yourself to be vulnerable, and share something that is close to your heart, the response from the other person will let you know if you should keep them in your life. If their response is compassionate, understanding, and inquisitive, then they are a person you want to hang onto. If, on the other hand, they dismiss you, show no empathy, and don't really care, now you know. You may want to reconsider that person's value in your life.
The Japanese say that we wear three faces:
“The first face you show the world.
The second face you show to your close friends and family.
The third face you never show anyone.
It is the truest reflection of who you are.”
You may not want to show your truest reflection to many people, but if you want deep relationships with those you love most, being vulnerable will get you there in a way nothing else can.