Vulnerability. When you say or hear this word, what feelings does it bring up in you? For most, it stirs up feelings of exposure, lack of safety, or being at risk in some way. But what is vulnerability really? What does it mean to choose to be vulnerable?
Throughout our lives we learn from society and those closest to us, that we need to protect ourselves from anything that may cause us harm, that we need to reduce the risk of exposure to anything that would create pain. And while the foundation of this belief has good intentions, coming from our human nature and instincts to survive, there is much more that we add to this need to protect that comes from the experiences we have along the path of living our lives. The way that we carry this out permeates all areas of our life, not just the protection of our physical being, but we fiercely guard our hearts, our souls, and our minds. We begin to open our hearts to love but then place barriers between us and who we love, we work on creative endeavors privately but then only share our creativity on a superficial level, we have insight and knowledge about something, but we keep it to ourselves. We do all of this because we fear that sharing and showing these parts of us exposes us to the potential for rejection, judgement, criticism and pain. Avoiding these risks seems to be the logical best choice, or at least on the surface that’s how it appears, but in avoiding these risks we also deny ourselves the opportunity to develop a deeper connection with others and with ourselves.
The Desire to Connect More Deeply
Most of us have experienced the beginning stages of a romantic relationship. When we are in the stage of getting to know someone and discovering who they are there comes a transition point that we reach where in order for the evolution of the relationship to happen we need to open ourselves up a little more, share more intimate things about ourselves, let the other person see more of who we are on a deeper level. When we reach this transition point, the imaginary step into the abyss, we can play it safe and continue to keep the relationship at a lower more superficial level, or we can choose to step forward, accept the risks, and move through our fears with the intention of connecting more deeply to that person.