When you make yourself vulnerable to another, are you being weak? Or really brave?
Think back to the last time you felt truly vulnerable. Do you remember how exposed and emotionally naked you felt? Being vulnerable can make us feel weak and out-of-control. However, letting your guard down and allowing yourself to be vulnerable actually requires a lot of inner strength—and it's the only way to form a real and unconditional connection with someone.
Once a teen client of mine complained that she was "too sensitive and very weak." When I asked her to elaborate, she said that she is just too emotional and couldn’t be strong like the rest of her family members, who do not openly share their feelings. This came as a surprise to me because my client was quite responsible and did not make impulsive decisions due to emotion.
So, instead of simply trying to argue with her, I used the example of two friends that like the same boy. I asked, "Which girl is stronger? Is it the girl who shows her sensitive side and feelings to the boy or it is the girl who hides her feelings and never says a word about them? One girl takes a risk with her feelings and one does not. Who is stronger?" After our discussion, my client determined to change her definition of what it really means to be strong.
Some people build such a high and thick wall against hurt that all they can feel is numbness. This is the type of person who is outwardly tough as nails and seems resilient to crisis, but who also might act emotionally distant or angry in many situations. They have been hurt so many times and to such a degree that they consider being emotionally vulnerable equal to being physically vulnerable.
And while there are certainly times when that wall can protect against hurt, it can also prevent you from feeling or experiencing joy. A complete lack of vulnerability is not a sign of strength; rather, it is a sign that you are afraid of letting anyone in.
It is the very brave person who makes the option to break down their walls and show feeling again after a significant hurt. Being vulnerable to hurt is a bold move that puts ones heart at risk, but it also makes one available to receive love, compassion, and fellowship with others. When you open yourself up to feelings and emotions, you'll find that others will be more willng to open themselves up to you.