Why Bother Being Vulnerable?
Being emotionally vulnerable is a good way to get hurt. It is also a good way to nurture and mature in the relationships that are important to us. Depending upon our personal history, previous experiences, or personality, laying ourselves open to others may be too big of a risk. We may have tried being vulnerable once before, but it resulted in rejection. And who wants to set themselves up for another wounding? Then there are those personalities that lend themselves to remaining emotionally out of reach to others. Some people prefer to insulate themselves behind cool walls of stone or to ignore any bids for emotional connections. Yet, daily, we have a choice to practice unmasking ourselves around others. When we do, we might find ourselves a little less anxious, a little more happy and a bit more at ease in the world.
I once heard that courage is not the absence of fear, but feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I believe courage is a main component to becoming an emotionally accessible and unguarded individual. None of us are exempt from injustices, broken promises, or wrecked relationships. Anyone of us could tell stories about how we have been wounded by another. Yet, to guard ourselves from ever being misunderstood, misrepresented or even misguided again, is to also close ourselves off from what is possible. If we guard and shield ourselves from ever being wounded again, we also close ourselves off from the possibility of having good relationships, deeper connections or maturing emotionally.
Recently, I have been shopping for a new primary care provider. My long term physician retired long ago and finding someone of the same easy going caliber has been an arduous journey. When I stumbled upon a new medical service in town, I filled out some rather personal forms required for new patients. The questions that I was required to answer dug rather deeply into not only my medical history, but also into my mental and emotional past. I caught myself wanting to fudge on my answers, tell a little lie, or to not mention what felt unmentionable. It took a lot of determination to answer as honestly as possible. My first first appointment involved a face to face, in person, hour long conversation with the physician about how I answered the questions on the forms. The person I sat across from was emotionally accessible, friendly, courteous, and professional. In essence, they invited me to set everything on the table. I confessed some of the things I had omitted, amplified on others, and disclosed more to this person than I had previously thought I would. Yet, I knew that only when I spoke honestly, would they get an accurate picture of my wellness and my weaknesses. Holding back would have only resulted in misrepresenting myself.
Why bother being vulnerable? It is worth communicating to others our honest to goodness selves. When we do, then we won’t misrepresent ourselves and we will feel a little less anxious, a little more happy and a bit more at ease in the world.