Practicing relational vulnerability (Part 4)

March 3, 2008 at 10:57 pm | Posted in Vulnerability | 1 Comment
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Vulnerability is better than self-protection.

During the last month I’ve addressed, in a very basic way, various aspects of vulnerability. Today’s post is the fourth and final in the series.

Here’s a review of the key points included in the three previous installments on vulnerability:

1. Vulnerability is not a dirty word. When we choose to let others who have earned our trust influence our lives with their insight and wisdom, we are being vulnerable with them. We are giving them permission to protect us in areas of our immaturity and/or limited capacity (our weaknesses).

2. We can learn who it’s safe to be vulnerable with. Of all the people you associate with, think of those you might like to be in closer relationship with. Watch and listen for those who seem to be trusted by others, who seem to participate in deep and meaningful relationships. Slowly begin to initiate relationship with someone you feel you could eventually be vulnerable with. If you have trouble trusting (and, to some degree, many of us struggle with this), be honest about it and look for someone who can accept this about you.

3. There can be hope and healing after relational wounding. Many of us become vulnerable to people who seem to care about us, but often we’re not mature enough to assess their trustworthiness. We can end up being deeply hurt and become self–protective. Having an emotionally safe relationship in which we can work through and forgive the hurt, can bring us hope for experiencing healthier relationships with others in the future.

So, why is vulnerability better than self-protection?

All of us have been hurt by others in varying degrees. I don’t know anyone who escapes relational pain, do you? When there is no one in our lives to help us process and forgive the pain done to us, our human tendency is to cover it up, to pull back a little further within ourselves where it feels safer than risking further wounding. On the outside we may seem fine — going about our usual business, carrying on non-threatening, surface kinds of relationships — but inside we can feel starkly alone and afraid.

When we stay trapped in this lonely, fearful interior space where it’s difficult to trust ourselves and others, we cannot receive the love others have for us. It’s way too scary to come out of hiding. We might get hurt again. We are mired in self-protection.

Finding trustworthy people with whom we can learn to be vulnerable can be challenging. Sometimes we have to search for them, at other times they find us. Whatever your situation is, it’s essential for us to cultivate trustworthy relationships where we can practice vulnerability. Not only can vulnerability free our hearts to receive love . . . vulnerability releases us to truly love others.

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1 Comment »

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  1. I’d love to hear your thoughts on relational vulnerability.


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