by Jennifer Mudarrie, LICSW
Has the word “vulnerability” become so overused that we assume it means sharing everything or even oversharing? Does the word alone give you shivers or pause when brought up in conversation or even a disagreement? Every person deserves to have deep and meaningful connections so what does it actually look like to be vulnerable?
When was the last time you were vulnerable?
Are you remembering a time when you needed to share something but found yourself scared and thinking “what will happen if I share this?” If it’s hard to imagine stepping out of roles that are familiar to you, ask yourself, “what does this fear do for me and how is it affecting my relationships?”
The good news is we can work on being vulnerable when we get stuck in cycles or patterns by looking at ways we want to feel in our intimate relationships.
Critical factors to being vulnerable
Let’s look at vulnerability differently than “I’m being open and it’s a big risk” (which is really your mindset) telling you something will not go according to plan, and instead, look at being vulnerable in several key factors:
- Is this person reliable to be trusting of myself with?
- Can we have relational trust so I can step into this further?
- Is there a history to be considered here?
- Is a challenge that has arisen causing some shame to not share?
- Are we able to recognize traumatic experiences that may be speaking up louder for us?
- How are we engaged in the feeling of safety in our lives at this moment?
- Am I my most authentic self with this individual/relationship?
Looking at ways of being vulnerable
After you access those pieces of information you make room to potentially see a bigger picture of your relationship to determine the best steps further – listening to your heart space and your feelings, needs, wishes, and desires in a greater context. What are you noticing? Are you able to be closer? What is this causing in you? Are you able to recognize the deeper connection?
Let’s look at vulnerability as authentically loving ourselves and the other person in sharing deeply. We will not always have an understanding or be met with love in our most special relationships. People are not perfect for us in every moment of need and desire. However, by sharing our deepest feelings we can create a map of our needs and relationship goals. This “line in the sand” lets others meet us there. Willingly, they can receive this, then you can make more accurate determinations in your connections.
The impact of being vulnerable
I have been working with couples, individuals, and families for many years, and when I see someone sharing from their heart they tend to be better met with positive regard and love than if they were unable or unwilling to share.
Witnessing people’s vulnerability is a rare gift that I honor and treasure. If we can take the time to see ourselves as valuable and important enough to take those steps, we may find ourselves feeling more loved and connected. Receiving new ways of understanding how to connect will allow for new experiences in life that may have felt traumatic or scary in the past. We are all loveable and important to understand.
About Jennifer Mudarrie, LICSW: Jennifer is a psychotherapist with nearly two decades of experience in the mental health field. She provides individual and family counseling, movement-based healing, and clinical supervision and facilitates various workshops in the community with other multi-disciplinary professional providers.