Fostering Vulnerability - The Key to Good Relationships.

“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”

Many years ago I saw Robin Hood, the movie, and one line is etched in my memory. He meets Marian in the forest and after a long conversation says, “It was nice seeing you.” She replies, “It was nice to be seen!”

To me it brings home the fundamental premise that connection is why we’re here, and in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen.

Since we were little we learned to play ‘pretend’, primarily as a means of entertaining ourselves but also as a survival mechanism. Quite early on in our lives we learn to pretend that everything is always o.k. We’re taught that it’s not cool to admit our failures and our passions and instead we act invincible, as if nothing ever hurt us and we don the armor of nonchalance. Outside of us we build up idealized images of ourselves, but secretly, inside, we compare ourselves to idealyic situations and people. Though, the truth is that if you let it, life will numb you of your anxieties with a façade of coolness but you will also miss out on what makes you human _ vulnerability.

Vulnerability means saying and doing exactly what you feel, even if you potentially leave yourself with nothing to hide behind….it takes guts to accept that it hurts like hell!

It’s deeply touching that we expend so much effort in trying to look strong before the world when really it’s those sad, anxious and embarrassing bits of us that are what makes us endearing to others and can turn strangers into friends. We assume that what make us likable are our strengths, our accomplishments and the things we’re proud of. Certainly that impresses but it isn’t what draws others to us. And to me, this definition says it so well…“Friendship is the dividend of gratitude that flows from an acknowledgement that one has offered something very valuable to someone, not a fancy present, but something even more precious, the key to one’s self-esteem and dignity.”

Being close to someone means that we can start to show the ‘truths’ that underlie the cheerful façade. These are the truths which make us feel lonely for ever so long; all those times we don’t let on how worried we are, how unsatisfactory our family life is, how full of envy our careers are proving etc.

I realize that revealing any of this is tough because we sense great danger in unmasking our deepest selves. Others could laugh and there is always the potential of being humiliated or publicly shamed…after all we can always depend on our ‘friends’ in Facebook! Nevertheless, I like the few suggestions Amber Rose has to offer. She says:
Be Real: If you’re scared, say it! If you don’t know the answer to something, say you don’t know; if you make a mistake admit it!

Act with no guarantees: We can sit safely in our imagination without committing to any action. Ideas are safe. Even without a sure thing, take a step anyway! Small steps taken everyday lead to big changes.

Ask For Help: Growing up, asking for help felt like weakness. But remember, by admitting your weakness, you make room for other people’s gifts.
Embrace negative emotions: When we numb sadness and pain, we numb joy and happiness too. It’s all connected.

In conclusion, I think, to be vulnerable is to be deeply seen. It’s to love with your whole heart and to put yourself out there. To feel vulnerable is to be alive; to exist as your most beautiful self.
Until next time!