How often I hear that clients believe vulnerability is something bad; that it’s a weakness. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Vulnerability is actually a gift, something that gives a person the opportunity to grow in strength and in courage. The vulnerable person is someone that has loads of courage to face an attacker and the potential to defend the meek. Vulnerable members of society are the people that ultimately have the potential to become close confidants, counselors and trusted friends.
People with vulnerable hearts may be labeled as “too nice” or seen as wimps.
Sometimes the person with a vulnerable heart is labeled as “sweet” and overlooked for promotions or important responsibilities in the traditional corporate setting. They may be perceived as weak or project a self-perception of weakness. But, people with vulnerable hearts are often individual’s with the greatest capacity for love. A vulnerable heart allows a person the space necessary to hold someone else when they need a friend, a strong tower, or when someone requires a true and reliable confidant to talk to. The vulnerable heart provides an all-important shoulder to lean on and heart that has an endless supply and reservoir of unconditional love.
The Pitfalls of Vulnerability
Vulnerability has pitfalls too. If you are the type of person that has an open heart, you may be aware that some people will try to take advantage of you. Sometimes people have an open heart resulting from pressure created from a life of abuse and because of this, they have compassion for people that are in pain, or people that suffer most.
On the opposite end of the extreme, some people that suffer the same experiences of abuse and neglect build up tall walls, because they believe in doing so they will prevent another hurt or loss.
There are always two sides to every coin. Being vulnerable allows you to build strong boundaries if you know how to do this, so that people do not take all of your strength and power from you. You cannot intercede for everyone and become a one person superhero. What you do need to learn is how to strike a balance between the two.
How to Open Up and Use Vulnerability to Your Advantage
It isn’t necessary to live a hard and abused life to have a big heart, or to allow people into your heart. What you do have to have is a lot of love in your heart. You have to learn to love people and to let them in. Fortunately anyone can learn this.
When you have an open heart, you can open up to people. You can tell people things about you because you have a spirit of love, not a spirit of fear. The spirit of love allows you to empathize with people. It allows you to build emotional bonds with people. It allows you to have compassion for people, and to forgive people, even people that hurt you.
A spirit of love must be balanced with boundaries however. Having a vulnerable personality does not mean you should be a doormat. It does not mean that you have to say “yes” to everyone that comes knocking at your door. You have to know what your boundaries are. You don’t have to buy a bottle of vodka for the “poor” drunk that is drunk already because you feel sorry for her. Use discernment and understand the difference between what is right and wrong.
Charmers, manipulators and scam artists will always be lurking right around the corner. People that consider you “weak” will always be attempting to take advantage of you. It’s ok to say no to them. Sometimes doing the right thing does not feel so good… a wise professor once told me that.
To practice vulnerability, start small. Here are a few things to try.
1. Share something small with someone you trust. A small secret. A very small secret, nothing earth shattering.
2. Try doing something you have never done with someone you trust. Remember to start small.
3. Take a leap of faith, do something you’ve always wanted to do but never could. Even if you fail. Then reward yourself for doing it.
4. Say no to someone you’ve always said yes to because you felt you had to. This is a tough one, but trust you can do it. Know that it may not feel good. That’s ok.
5. Share your emotions with a group of people. Something simple at first, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
6. Go ahead, shed a tear. Let someone shed a tear with you.
It’s not that hard once you get started. You’ll find the richness of fellowship with others much more rewarding than the isolation of putting on a mask every day, or of sitting alone in silence. So go ahead and challenge yourself. Being vulnerable is not as hard as it seems, once you start.
Sometimes learning to be vulnerable requires the help of a trusted counselor or therapist. Many qualified counselors are standing by in Denver/Metro area to help you. If you have been abuse or neglected by someone because you have been too gullible, get help. Your love matters!
Denver Metro Counseling Center Crisis Intervention
Open M-F 8AM to 5PM 303.566.3132,
After Hours 303.352.4455 MSU Students
Shepherd’s Gate Counseling Center
Low-Cost Counseling Services $5-25
6399 South Santa Fe Drive
SafeHouse Denver, Inc.