One of the main factors of having and keeping a good relationship is being able to trust, and have good communication. In order for others to trust us, we have to be able to become vulnerable, and show our vulnerability. Honesty and vulnerability go hand in hand. You cannot be totally, and genuinely truthful with another, without opening up fully to them.
This is something that I have had to learn the hard way, having lived in an abusive relationship, as I wrote about in “Abuse, One Woman’s Story”. I learned in that relationship, not to be, or show vulnerability. If I allowed my vulnerabilities to show, they were always, used against me at some point, or another. As a result I became very numb, and caged within myself. People were always telling me how easy going and laid back, and quiet I was. “Nothing ever bothers you”, they would say. But they also knew that, something was just not quite right with that.
When I finally left that relationship, I still found it hard to become vulnerable to others. I had learned all to well how to keep who I really was, tightly hidden inside. I believed that to show my vulnerabilities was a weakness, and I really believed that it was making me strong. Little did I know how wrong I was. A most wonderful man found me, despite myself, and lost that very valuable relationship because of it.
Without it, you are not truly opening your heart to another. Not only to love them fully, but to allow them to love you fully. He knew I was not only keeping some of my love from him, but also, not allowing him to love me the way he needed to. He couldn’t feel like he could trust me, because he always felt that I was hiding something. This took away his trust, and security. As a result, we both hurt each other deeply. A significant feature of any lasting relationship is our willingness to be, and show our vulnerability. It allows us to be friend, not foe, and you cannot become sincerely intimate with another, without it.
Sharon Ellison states,
“From an early age, we’re conditioned to believe that to expose our fears, weaknesses and negative feelings at a time of confrontation is to invite trouble. The truth is just the opposite. The alchemy between vulnerability and honesty is the chemical reaction that can transform our communication.”She is speaking here, only at times of confrontation, because when we do show vulnerability to others, it most normally, only happens when we feel safe. When we don’t feel safe, we become defensive, we close down, the armor comes on, the mote is built, and the walls go up, around our feelings. But in actuality, I believe that we all do it, to some degree, most all of the time.
We don’t want the world to know our weaknesses, after all, in the dating world, it is always expressed that confidence is the most attractive quality to possess, to attract both men and women. If we expose our weaknesses, we believe that we will be looked down upon, or ridiculed. But the element that we are missing is that, by showing vulnerability, we are showing confidence. Without it, we are showing a lack of trust, both in ourselves, and others, one of the elements of low self-esteem.
To show vulnerability is to come out of hiding, and shows honesty, as long as we are not using it in a manipulative way. There is great power in honesty; especially when we show it in the face of someone who wants to hurt us. Without it, we are unable to give truthful feedback, and communicate what is accurately happening between us. When our armor, mote and walls are up, we have a tendency to bow up, and we come off as defensive, and angry, which only acts as a domino effect. The other person, in turn, only shuts us out, and tries to bring us down further…the very thing that we are attempting to protect ourselves from.
On the other hand, by yielding our vulnerability, and the power of honesty, we both start to move away from being defensive, and are able to empathize with one another. Most importantly, we build the bridge to trust, and intimacy, as opposed to building the mote between us that continually grows with each confrontation.
Take the risk! Open yourself up to the possibilities!
"Emotions, The Center of Social Interactions and Communication"