Practicing relational vulnerability (Part 3)

February 20, 2008 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Vulnerability | 3 Comments
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There can be hope and healing after relational wounding.

For the purposes of this series, I’m defining vulnerability as the choice to let someone who has earned our trust, protect our weaknesses. Weaknesses are areas of limited capacity or immature character that can cause us to hurt ourselves or others.

What happens, though, when we let ourselves become emotionally vulnerable to the wrong person, someone who violates our trust, someone who breaks our heart?

During our very dependent growing-up years, our vulnerability isn’t always a matter of choice; we’re vulnerable because we’re young, and sometimes we’re hurt (often unintentionally) by those whose responsibility it is to protect us. As we grow older and seek acceptance outside our families, many of us become vulnerable to people who appear to care about us . . . but we may lack the discernment to assess their trustworthness. Instead of feeling loved, we may end up being used and deeply wounded.

When we’ve been hurt in a relationship, it’s our human tendency to keep our defenses up in the next relationship. With every hurt that goes unaddressed or unforgiven, our defensive shield becomes a little thicker . . . until one day we wake up and realize that most of our relationships may be fairly shallow. We may trust no one, including ourselves.

Having an emotionally safe place to tell the truth about the hurts we’ve experienced — a relationship where we can work through forgiveness of these hurts and the power they’ve had over us — is the key to developing a new, objective approach to relationships. Even though we may have been terribly wounded, when we dare to move out of self-protection and embrace forgiveness, we can find hope for authentic, trustworthy relationships in the future.

Next post – understanding why vulnerability is better than self-protection.

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  1. The process of learning to trust again takes intentionality and patience . . . but it IS possible.

  2. That is so true. A great book to read about this is called the Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz. He talks about our emotional body and how many of us suffer from “toxic wounds” that have been developed over time. The concepts are very deep and relate what Ellen wrote.


  3. I appreciate your comments, Lena, and the referral to an excellent resource for everyone in Ruiz’ book.

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