Many people believe that being vulnerable is a place of weakness or being fragile. Now, I will say that when you open your heart to someone, that is a vulnerable place. Because you are trusting that person with the most precious part of you. You let that person into your personal space. They are inside your castle walls, as I like to call them, and they could honor you and worship you, or they could crush you and steal all of your gold.
So being vulnerable involves trust. When you voluntarily choose to be vulnerable around someone, that is the ultimate in trust. It’s like when a cat lays on his back to show you his belly. He trusts you completely, and is confident that you won’t betray that trust.
When you trust someone, are you vulnerable at that time? I would say to a certain degree, by trusting someone, you are exposing some or a lot of your vulnerability, because they could easily betray that trust, which may ultimately hurt you in some way.
Trust involves you letting your guard down a little in hopes they honor that trust and come through as promised. But what some people fear is that the trust will be betrayed, and that by being vulnerable, they are just opening themselves up to emotional pain.
But trusting someone and having a strong personal foundation of who you are and what you stand for will protect you if and when trust is betrayed. However, when you can be both vulnerable and grounded in who you are, even though you can still get hurt, you’ll be able to bounce back and maintain a healthy mentality.
If you believe being vulnerable means there’s a high chance of getting hurt, then you will likely get hurt. But if you believe being vulnerable means you get to experience joy and pleasure in life and share that with someone close, then you will likely get that. The problem some people run into is that they’re afraid to love or open their heart to anyone, because they’ve been hurt before.
We’ve all been hurt when we were vulnerable, but we’ve all been hurt when we weren’t vulnerable too. The difference is, when we choose to share more of ourselves, we are opening the door to the deeper, more sensitive area of our soul (in a manner of speaking). It’s our emotional well, and it runs deep. The further down the well I let you go, the more damage you can do if you wanted to.
That’s why something like infidelity hurts so much. We find someone we truly love, and share everything of who we are, letting them get deep into our emotional well, knowing we can trust them completely and they will honor us and be truthful with us at all times. Then finding out they cheated while they were in that most sacred space inside of us – it is a shock, and it can cripple us.
If you’ve ever been betrayed by someone who you let into your most sacred space, this is probably what you experienced. It’s like saying, “Hey, I want to share something with you that I’ve never told anyone about. I trust you implicitly, and know that you will honor me by keeping it just between us.”
And they say, “I will, I promise. Do you mind if I bring my girlfriend along?”
Ouch! That’s cold. And when things like this happen, we tend to let fewer people in so deep. We don’t want the closest people in our lives to have that kind of power to debilitate us so fast. And we start to close up, little by little, becoming less authentic and less open just so no one gets that close to our heart again.
But, as you know, this also prevents true emotions from being shared. If you don’t let people in, your relationships won’t tend to last very long. You’ve been hurt one time too many and now choose to not experience the deep connection of what a relationship can offer.
But can one be vulnerable in a deep and meaningful relationship, and have the resiliency to bounce back if they are ever hurt or betrayed? In other words, can they be vulnerable again without closing off little by little each time?
The answer is yes, but I won’t say it’s not challenging. However, the way I do it is to treat each situation as new. It’s living in the present moment. When you meet someone new, it’s a whole new start to something that could be amazing. And it will only get as amazing as you want it to get.
If you want a deep connection, you let them go deep with you. The more meaning you want in the relationship, the deeper you allow someone to get. The less you let someone in, and I know this is going to sound harsh, the less meaning the relationship will have for you.
There is meaning in every relationship, but those who choose not to be too vulnerable with someone may not experience the depth that they could. Of course, use your instincts along the way. If your instincts raise a flag, but your logic talks you out of it, then it’s time to back off. Instincts know more than logic almost always. But if it feels right, there could be something very special within your reach.
When you strengthen your self-esteem and realize your self-worth, then being “too vulnerable” really isn’t even a problem, because even if someone tries to hurt you, they won’t be able to make it past your reinforced personal boundaries. Just look for my episode on personal boundaries to get a head start on that.
There’s so much to discuss, but we’ll leave it here to be picked up another time. Vulnerability is a place of deep meaning and connection. If you choose to protect yourself in every situation, you may never know how close and deep a relationship could get. If all you’re worried about is getting hurt, you may never experience full satisfaction in life. And since we want to live more than a mundane life, it’s worth taking some risks for the right relationships.
I’m not going to say you’ll never be hurt again, but I will say you’ll develop more authentic connections with the closest people in your life when you reach a place in yourself that allows you to show your vulnerability and your strength at the same time (which to me, are one in the same).
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