When some people hear or see the word vulnerability, they cringe or automatically give the word a negative connotation. However, I believe that the more people are exposed to the positive aspects of this word, the less threatened they will feel. Everyone experiences vulnerability; no one is immune to it. You can experience it in many ways for example having to confront someone, asking for help, accepting responsibility for something that you did wrong, and one common one… avoiding loving somebody deeply because of fear of exposing your innermost self.
Who is it to blame? Society? The media?
People commonly try to avoid expressing an image of imperfection and weakness, because they feel that if they do so, they will be liked less. The problem is that if you have ever been part of a relationship (romantic or not) you will realize that after getting to know somebody for some period of time, it is inevitable to discover the other person’s fears and/or weaknesses. If you are the type of person looking for the “perfect” other half, let me tell you that you might be living in denial of reality (how can you ask for perfection when no one, including yourself, is perfect?) Also, you will eventually realize that the “perfect” person is not who you think it was and perhaps you’ll be a little bit disillusioned… Some people that experience this are on the lookout for the next partner, not consciously aware that Mr. or Mrs. Future will have its thorns as well. If you feel that the cycle repeats in your life, you may want to begin with yourself.
To experience life in a more satisfying way may require that you are authentic and real. Authentic + real = loving your dark side (even if it sounds impossible). If you truly accept yourself entirely for who you are, people will notice it. People are drawn to people who are authentic…why? Because if someone else is real and vulnerable, that person is giving us a heads up to be whoever we are. Expressing your vulnerability to someone else might not be easy, especially because most people think that feeling vulnerable is synonymous for weak. However, on the contrary, being vulnerable means having the courage to be yourself. It might be hurtful at times but to be in accord with your feelings is a better idea, instead of denying or repressing them (defense mechanisms). Actually, a study by Kircanski et al., shows that expressing our feelings verbally may help us regulate aspects of emotion (interestingly, they tested this with people afraid of spiders).
The issues behind our vulnerability are what distinguishes us, and what makes us unique and special.
I truly recommend the video below. Dr. Brene Brown has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. This is one of the most watched TED talks, and shows the positive side to being imperfect.
Stephanie Páez, M.A., LMFT-A is a bilingual Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate practicing in Austin, Texas.