Recently I gave a lecture about vulnerability and the paradox of being vulnerable. Now, I won’t bore you with the whole lecture, but I do want to present my case in a couple of ways and then leave you to “marinate” on your own (or you can comment below or email me at email@example.com and we can chat about it more if you choose).
Some of the definitions of vulnerability include: Without adequate protection; extremely susceptible – easily persuadable; physically or psychologically weak; open to attack.
So far, not great, right? But here’s my favorite definition: Liable to increased stakes – either higher penalties as well as bonuses. Wait a minute! Increased stakes? So what I think that’s saying is that when we are willing to be vulnerable; to let our guard down; take a risk, we are opening ourselves up to penalties (something bad) or bonuses. Now, a bonus to me means something more than what was expected – in a good way!
As I have stated before, I’m not a risk taker by nature. I have lived a good portion of my life “playing it safe”. I’ve never broken a bone, I’ve never been in a bad car accident (just a couple of fender benders), and I’ve never had to go to the emergency room except for a really bad strep infection, or to take someone else. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think I may have also limited myself to reaping some bonuses as well. Bummer!
In recent years, I have stretched myself and done things that have scared me. I’ve let myself be more vulnerable, susceptible, open to attack and I’ve survived. More than that, I’ve triumphed because I learned that I’m stronger; bolder than I thought I was. The paradox of vulnerability sometimes is that when we are weak, that’s our opportunity to become strong!
When we are vulnerable in our relationships it’s scary! We know what it’s been like to be hurt in the past. It’s our nature to defend ourselves; to put up a wall to those who have hurt us, disappointed us, and/or denigrated us. What’s vulnerable in those situations is to intentionally choose to love those people, open ourselves up to them and reap the bonus of a closer, intimate bond. If they continually choose to hurt us, we can still choose to love them, but we don’t have to let them close until they change. Usually, it’s the intentional love that will allow them to do just that. This is an easier task when we learn that we can only control our choices, and they can only control theirs. This can only work when we know and STAND in our own identity as a strong, fearlessly loved and worthy person.
If you’re unsure of your identity, email me and we can have a conversation.
-Tessa L. Charles