Practicing relational vulnerability (Part 2)

February 13, 2008 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Vulnerability | 1 Comment
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We can learn who it’s safe to be vulnerable with.

In my last post I shared a definition of vulnerability that may have been new for some of you:

The act of allowing someone who’s earned our trust to protect our weaknesses, or those areas of limited capacity and immature character that can cause us to hurt ourselves or others.

Vulnerability exists when we choose to let someone know us wholly — not just the healthy parts but also the wounded places we’d prefer to keep hidden — and allow them to influence us with their insight and wisdom.

So, how do we know who it’s safe to be vulnerable with?

Consider the various settings where you routinely interact with people — your family and friends, neighborhood, work, school, church, support group, professional organization. Perhaps, you already have one or more people in your life with whom you’re authentically vulnerable. But if not, of all the people you associate with, who might be one you’d like to be in closer relationship with? Think about those individuals who seem to be trusted by others, who appear to participate in rich, fulfilling relationships.

One of the biggest reasons many of us remain in isolation or “surface” types of relationships is that we’re afraid we’ll be rejected if we try to initiate something more meaningful. We may have a hard time believing in our own value and ask ourselves, “Who do I think I am? Why would she want to talk with ME?”

Here’s a suggestion. This week be intentional about choosing someone with whom you feel you could progress toward vulnerability. Let this person know that you’d like to get to know them a little better, hopefully you already have a few things in common to begin a conversation. If you know you have trouble trusting, tell the truth about it and seek someone who can accept this about you.

Give this new, deeper level of relationship plenty of time to grow. Refrain from being fully vulnerable — try to share who you are gradually, in stages — until you see that the other person is just as committed to earning your trust as you are about earning hers.

Next post – knowing what to do when we’ve been vulnerable with the wrong person.

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  1. Learning to practice sharing ourselves gradually doesn’t come naturally for some of us; it certainly didn’t happen easily for me.

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