1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.
2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery.
3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend: a vulnerable bridge.
The very definition of vulnerable is enough to make just about anyone cringe. It suggests being open to real pain whether it be bodily, emotionally, or mentally. It’s enough to make someone build walls reminiscent of the walls of Jericho around their heart.
We are taught from a young age to protect our emotional state from mockery, our mental state from false doctrine or teachings, and our body’s from injury and/or pain. This very intrinsic notion we have to protect ourselves at all costs is quite useful. However, when it comes to the human relationship it can be quite a hindrance. It can squelch the very fire of human authenticity and interaction. I have experienced this, first hand, for many years.
As a child I was often labeled weird, fanciful, or overly romanticized in thought. I have distinct memories of someone that I looked up to as a young child making me feel as though I was an oddball and therefore not likable. I grew up essentially feeling as though something was wrong with me or that I was simply missing the mark of being a likable person. I became too concerned about people not liking me. Truth be told, I still struggle with that to this day.
Being vulnerable can be done in many different ways. I find it hardest to be vulnerable in situations dealing with close friends or family when conflict arises. I am of the persuasion that in any relationship that you are even minimally invested, conflict will arise at one point or another. When conflict arises, my first reaction is to throw a fit in private and pledge to never talk to the person that hurt me ever again. This is a foolish attempt to punish someone for something they most likely aren’t even aware of and if they are aware of it they probably aren’t too concerned with how I feel.
I have learned to push through my feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, self-righteousness and simply attempt to communicate with the other person how I am truly feeling. My goal is always to reach some sort of mutual understanding. Sometimes it doesn’t come out right. Most times the other person will then take that moment of my vulnerability to their advantage and punish me in some form or another. That is how they are dealing with their anger, resentment, bitterness, self-righteousness or particular emotion. They are, most likely, similarly afraid to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability allows you to accept and love ALL of yourself, including your faults, fears, and insecurities. For instance, I love that I am highly sensitive and perhaps overly invested in making sure openness and communication is in all of my close relationships. Is it a source of rejection for me? Sure, often actually. Does it open me up for attack? Yes. Do people see me as bothersome for discussing my feelings? You bet. The beautiful thing is I am just starting to learn that I don’t need to trouble myself with another person's thoughts or opinions of me. That is a part of who I am and as long as I’m not hurting anyone all is good.
So go on, put yourself out there! Live life according to your own terms! Don’t dread allowing yourself to become vulnerable; you will in turn be beautiful!
In the words of a mother
Here are some wonderful quotes:
I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.
- Joseph Addison
To love at all is to be vulnerable.
- C. S. Lewis
We all need somebody to talk to. It would be good if we talked, not just pitter-patter, but real talk. We shouldn't be so afraid, because most people really like this contact; that you show you are vulnerable makes them free to be vulnerable.
- Liv Ullmann
I think sexy is vulnerability, and there's no way you can act vulnerable. It just has to be there. -Michael Zaslow
I understand now that the vulnerability I've always felt is the greatest strength a person can have. You can't experience life without feeling life. What I've learned is that being vulnerable to somebody you love is not a weakness, it's a strength. -Elisabeth Shue
In the beginning, people think vulnerability will make you weak, but it does the opposite. It shows you're strong enough to care. -Victoria Pratt