Take a risk and be vulnerable

Have you ever felt the need to express the overflow of emotions you are feeling about that special someone but restrained yourself? Have you ever felt love for someone but waited on them to say it first? Have you ever felt insecure or jealous about your partner spending time with someone but never shared this with them? What do you think it is that stopped you? In light of it being the month of L-O-V-E, I thought it would be fitting to do a blog about vulnerability. This is the feeling that often stops us from honestly and openly expressing ourselves and hinders us from experiencing love fully and completely. I think the famous poet Theodore Roethke said it best when he said, “Love isn’t really Love until it’s vulnerable”. So let’s take a closer look at that scary feeling called vulnerability.

We live in a society that definitely places a lot of value on being independent and we often scorn those who appear clingy or “needy”. The reality, however, is that sometimes we just want to snuggle up in someone’s arms, have them rub our backs, and be told everything will be ok and you know what? There’s actually nothing wrong with that! Being vulnerable does not mean being weak, in fact, it is the polar opposite. It is having the courage to let your guard down, be yourself, and ask for what you need.

Love is scary because of the vulnerability that accompanies it and because there are no guarantees. Your partner could leave you, a parent could criticize you, a friend may betray or reject you, and the individual you are asking something from may choose not to give it-which they have every right to. There are no two ways about it, when we expose ourselves emotionally we are definitely at risk of being hurt. “So, why take the risk?” you may ask. According to Brene Brown, bestselling author and expert about vulnerability, “Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy…Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”. The trick is to learn how to sooth ourselves when feeling discomfort and to not make our happiness dependent on others. This way we feel more confident in our ability to handle the icky emotions and, in turn, more likely to take the risk. According to Lissa Rankin (March, 2013), “We all have the capacity to make our own sunshine. Our error comes when we mistakenly make someone else our sunshine, and then we feel dark and shadowy when our sunshine pulls away, not necessarily because they don’t love us, but because they have needs of their own”. When you are in that place of excruciating vulnerability, do something you love. Go for a hike, have a hot bath, watch a hockey game or your favourite movie, play with your pet-go ahead and create your own sunshine!

Opportunities to be vulnerable present themselves daily. Whether it be asking a friend for help, telling a teacher you don’t understand, asking a boss for a raise, confronting a family member about a behaviour, telling your partner you are scared and asking for a hug, or sitting with a friend who has recently lost a loved one. The question is, will you take the opportunity? Next time you are feeling fearful of sharing too much or asking for something you may not get I encourage you to be courageous, take the risk, and embrace vulnerability. I believe Alfred Lord Tennyson had it right when he wrote, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”.

Philippa

Rankin, L. (March, 2013). Vulnerability vs. Needy-The Fine Line. Retrieved from http://lissarankin.com/vulnerable-vs-needy-the-fine-line-part-1

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