Relationships are an important aspect of our lives. Mostly we associate relationships with romantic relationships, but actually, as soon as we connect with any other person – friends, family members or people in a community – this word takes effect. This includes the relationship to ourselves as well. So we took a deeper look at this topic at New Life as part of our 12 weekly themes.
In one of the daily workshops, we collected our first associations with the word relationships. It turned out that upon hearing the word “relationship” we automatically thought of a lot of negative words and phrases such as “difficult”, “heartbreak” and “the fear of getting hurt”. The word we didn’t think of, the one that didn’t come up from anyone in the group, was – surprisingly – love.
The reason for that might be the fact that when it comes to relationships, we can find this big contradiction: Relationships can make us feel very happy, secure and they can be very nourishing. However, at the same time, they can cause a lot of pain and suffering, too. So we often adopt a lot of behaviors to try and prevent that from happening. We build up walls around us, especially around our hearts and we act in ways we think we are supposed to act rather than show how we really feel. To put it in a nutshell: We try to hide our vulnerability.
Vulnerability is scary, but pure.
In it you can find bravery.
What does vulnerability mean? Vulnerability is literally “being exposed to the possibility of being harmed, either physically or emotionally”. That sounds quite scary, so it’s understandable why we often try to avoid being vulnerable and try to deny our vulnerability. No one wants to get hurt or feel pain. We don’t want to suffer. Life is hard enough!
The problem is this: If we want to connect with other people, if we want to have meaningful relationships – we have to be vulnerable. While we as humans have the innate desire to avoid pain and suffering, we also have social needs. People need to feel accepted, to feel intimacy with other people, to form meaningful connections, to be part of a group and work together with others.
If we want to be seen, if we want to be loved for who we are, we have to show who we are. Not hiding anything, not covering anything – just being the raw and authentic version of ourselves. Being vulnerable means being ourselves – with all our weaknesses and shadows, with all our thoughts and feelings. Or as relating to one of our other weekly themes – our true identity. Vulnerability and relationships naturally go together. If we want to have healthy, loving relationships, we must learn how to be vulnerable and let our true selves be seen.
Being vulnerable is the only way
to allow your heart
true pleasure that’s so real
it scares you.
You can find a great Ted Talk about this topic by Brené Brown. In her speech “The Power of Vulnerability” she gives further insights about the topic of vulnerability – and how it’s linked to courage, compassion, and connection.
We often try to be perfect, to act perfect, but being vulnerable is the total opposite of that. It is the courage to be imperfect. It is the courage to embrace who we really are – and to embrace our vulnerability itself.
In her speech, Brown also makes clear why it is so important to be vulnerable. When we numb vulnerability, to try and prevent us from feeling pain or disappointment, we numb everything – including positive feelings such as joy, happiness, true connection, and love. In order to have meaningful relationships, we have to love wholeheartedly and be brave enough to be vulnerable. Because this is what makes us human and allows us to connect with another person.
by Antonia Friemelt