When people feel vulnerable, they hold back. In relationships, this is the kiss of death.
As people, we are emotional beings, whether we like to admit it or not. Male and female alike. If we choose to hold back from expressing our feelings, then we are certain to endanger our relationship with our loved ones, family and friends. We pay a heavy toll when we choose to do this.
Why Do We Fear Being Vulnerable?
In some cases, we believe, without a doubt, that we would be putting ourselves in a position of weakness, be defenseless and susceptible to a seriously, negative response. We would be exposing ourselves to be a target of ridicule or attack. It’s equal to losing control and putting ourselves at the mercy of someone else. And there’s nothing comfortable about that! So we earnestly avoid doing it, as if our lives depend upon it.
Where Did This Fear Come From?
Fear is a feeling of danger which invokes a fight or flight response. When we are dealing with emotions, we usually choose to take flight! Time and time again, this fear is traced back to when we were being raised as children. For example, did you ever hear, or were you ever told:
· ‘men don’t cry’
· ‘girls cry at the drop of a hat’
· Showing feelings is a sign of weakness
· ‘Be a man’
· ‘Suck it up’
· ‘crying is for sissies’
· ‘Be strong’
Or when we tried to explain our side of the story, expressing our feelings (and yes, being vulnerable), it wasn’t received well? Were you punished? Made fun of? Or told you needed to ‘toughen-up’. Remember, you were a child here. You were learning the rules of life. How to please adults. How to conduct ourselves in our environment so that we received praise, not ridicule. We were indoctrinated with the experiences, therefore the rules, of those influential in our life. Right or wrong, as a child, we were absorbing the behavior and rules of those around us to survive.
Here’s the Good News!
You’re not a child anymore, so ask yourself “do those rules serve me well now?” Not likely. So can you do anything to change them? Absolutely!
Change the Rules! You have the Power!
To show someone that you are vulnerable is actually a sign of strength. It shows that you are comfortable with who you are. That you have control over your thoughts and actions. You are exhibiting self-confidence.
As in any situation you are in, there is a possibility of rejection or a negative response but that doesn’t stop us from trying, does it? No! We go to the job interviews, approach someone we are attracted to, try new things, meet new people. We are vulnerable in all these situations. But we don’t attach anything negative to ourselves for trying and possibly failing. We accept the outcome whether they are negative or positive. We believe we did our best. If we are rejected, our sense of being is still intact (although perhaps a little bruised!) but we quickly get over it. We shake off the negative feeling, chalk it up to experience and move on to the next adventure. We’re okay. This is proof that we are capable of being vulnerable and still maintain control. It’s all good. It’s all positive.
So try this: look at your current relationship and ask yourself what are you holding back from expressing or showing? What are the problematic topics you are avoiding? Now ask yourself ‘why am I avoiding them?’ Is your reason based on fact? Or is it just an unfounded belief?
Psychotherapy Can Help
In my practice, I have helped many people overcome their fear of being vulnerable. It begins with identifying where the fear originated, and then replacing them with positive beliefs building up your confident. Because these emotions are deeply rooted, guidance is usually necessary to help you overcome your fear. Together we will be on this journey.