I know it’s a hot topic right now, but I take issue with the current view of how important it is to be vulnerable. It may be semantics, but to me, “vulnerable” implies you can be decimated. I prefer the word “open.”
I looked up vulnerable in the dictionary. Here’s what it said: susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. The synonyms are: helpless, defenseless, powerless, impotent, weak, susceptible. I don’t think this is what people envision when they talk about how important it is to be vulnerable with their partners.
What do people mean when they talk about vulnerability? I think they are talking about intimacy – letting yourself be seen exactly as you are. Rather than put up a front or present a false face, you can choose to just be yourself. The good and the bad. Once you stop trying to be perfect and trying to get everyone to like you, you can practice accepting who you are and letting people know the real you. This is a good thing.
You can have this same authenticity, this same realness, honesty, and emotional availability and not be able to be destroyed by other people. This is what I mean by “open.” You can still get hurt, but you can develop the strength and resiliency to be okay, learn, and move on. There is nothing good in being vulnerable – so fragile that you’re dependent on how others treat you to remain intact. When you feel vulnerable, you look to your partner to take care of you and to make you feel safe. Instead, look at how you need to strengthen yourself to be okay so that you can remain open to your partner. Other people don’t make things safe for you; you make it safe for yourself.
How do you do that? You learn to validate yourself rather than depend on validation from someone else. As you take the steps toward self-validation, you will feel anxious. There is a transition as you switch to validating yourself, and it can leave you feeling alone and exposed. You’ll have to sit in that anxiety and not do anything about it. Connect with yourself and what you know to be true about who you are. Practice giving yourself permission to be who you are and finding a feeling of being okay with yourself. You are in a much more stable and strong position once you decide you’re okay than when you need acceptance from others to feel that way.
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