For many of us, it’s hard to be vulnerable. It’s uncomfortable to unveil the raw and fragile aspects of ourselves. It’s hard to show how much it hurts, how scared we are, how lost or lonely we feel. It’s hard to lay out our pain, piece by piece. Sharing our failings, fears and (so-called) flaws can feel like taking a public inventory of our most intimate experiences. It can leave us feeling exposed and unguarded, worse than if we’d just kept quiet.
It’s true that some people will betray the sacredness of your trust and vulnerability. Some people will use your pain as fodder for gossip (a way of hot-wiring cheap connections with others.) Some people will use it as a way to make themselves feel superior. Some people will betray your vulnerability by simply not grasping the gravity of what you’ve shared. And that hurts too.
One option to avoid all of this is to build a big fucking wall. Let no one in. Lock that shit down. Keep quiet. This feels safe. It’s consistent, easy to stick to. A policy of total privacy. But it’s also a recipe for accumulating and storing our experiences somatically, packing our cells with unprocessed emotions poisoned with the shame of being made unspeakable.
This kind of emotional vigilance also isolates us, preventing us from creating any kind of true intimacy with others. Which means we miss out on closeness, connection, community, collective problem solving, healing, belonging and joy. All things that require vulnerability and trust.
So here’s my suggestion: Be vulnerable sometimes. The truth is that some people are deserving of your trust and vulnerability. And some people are just…not.
Vulnerability works best and achieves its highest aims (connecting us, helping us heal) when it is met with respect and reverence.
So don’t shut down. Be brave enough to be vulnerable, and be discerning. Vet who is worthy of your vulnerability. Share accordingly.