Were there times when you felt needy and weak, and hope someone could give you a hug or take some of the burden/responsibilities away?
Therefore you took your chance and decided to be vulnerable. You asked for help, or reached out for affection. Congratulations! That took massive amount of courage! How did it feel?
What I want to talk about is, what's next?
Many of us thought that by mustering the courage to reach out, our loved ones would swoop us in their arms and whisper sweet things until the ache goes away. Unfortunately, their responses are often not how we expected it to be.
When I first tapped into my vulnerability, I DID NOT get the results I WANTED. I have friends who weirded out, and wished we could just hangout and have fun like "old times". One chided me for crying.
The reality is, vulnerability EXPOSES you. It is scary. You may feel that the affection is not being reciprocated, you may be hurt by their comments.
My partner and I are not compatible/ My friends do not care/ My mother does not love me enough.
I will NEVER show my vulnerability to others again, ever.
We have now turned a bad day, into a worse day. We are just transferring the negative emotions from elsewhere to the people we love, creating a whirlpool of bad mojo! What just happened??
Well, here's the thing. EXPECTATION breeds disappointment, bitterness and resentment.
If we showed vulnerability and hope someone will make us feel better, that is giving our emotional responsibility away to others.
Our actions become CONDITIONAL, and our mindset? A victim's.
I also learned that, for two to connect on a deep level, it takes willingness and openness on BOTH parties. We need to accept and respect that others maybe more comfortable to interact in a casual level at that time. Understand it takes EFFORT - courage and mindfulness to be vulnerable.
So why subject myself to hurt by showing vulnerability? Well, that is only HALF of the story.
By being vulnerable and asking for love / attention / help, your loved ones may very well reciprocate!
Did I tell you, my sister traveled 300KM to my doorstep the next day to "check on me", after I sheepishly messaged "I love you" in my family group chat for the first time? My mom started to show her vulnerability instead of her usual image of an independent working mother, and cooked me a birthday feast for the first time in years. I am very blessed.
Even if they don't, see verbalising your feelings as a form of self-acknowledgement instead. Without this critical step, you will constantly feel incongruent / out of sync - Your body is being forced out of bed to face the world when your heart just wants to stay in bed and watch another rerun of "Friends"!
After self-acknowledgement, focus back on yourself with kindness and empathy. Why are you feeling tired? Do you simply need a walk, or a cup of tea? Only when you have FULLY rested, you are ready to rise and be the gorgeous slayer you are once again! Try it!
Vulnerability connects, heals, inspires. In the long run, I experience remarkable improvement in my relationships which are more open, loving and authentic.
To sum it up,
1. There is no guarantee in others' response to your vulnerability. Expect rejection, judgement, shame. That being said, there are rewards too which is so worth the risk!
2. Check your intentions. Expectations breed disappointment, bitterness and anger. Be understanding and respectful to others who may not be ready.
3. Take ownership of your feelings. What do you need? After self-acknowledgement, take action - Rest and feel empowered!
Write a comment
Denyse Ng (Sunday, 15 December 2019 08:22)
Love this article! So real and well written!
Art (Sunday, 22 November 2020 12:55)
Showing vulnerability to someone does not mean we have to expect that person to reciprocate (= to show vulnerability in return). This is good advice, of course.
But if we read "showing vulnerability" as "asking a close friend or family member for comfort, in a situation when we are on our knees", things change: being there for someone who opened up to us does not require us to show our vulnerability in return. Most of the time it just means being there, listening. Expecting sympathy or care and giving them in return does not mean at all that we don't own our feelings or that we expect others to fix things for us. To me, it is just the foundation of any meaningful relationship.
I find this article a bit misleading...