Does Being Vulnerable Make Me a Sucker?

vulnerable

Vulnerable.

I hate this word.

And I suspect most of you do as well.

By its very definition being vulnerable means being capable or susceptible to being hurt. It means that we are open to attack, criticism or assault. It means we are in a position that is difficult to defend.

Put the word vulnerable into an online thesaurus and you will be given suggestions such as: defenseless, unsafe and weak. Further down on the list of synonyms are sitting duck, naked, thin-skinned and even sucker.

No shock that the word vulnerable makes most of us cringe. Who wants to be a sucker?

Yet here is the strange thing: without vulnerability we cannot truly connect with another human being. Without vulnerability we cannot fully love. In fact, science proves that vulnerability is a significant feature in lasting relationships.

Yes, that is correct. That icky, yucky, awful, horrible feeling of vulnerability is a vital part of the glue that strengthens our relationships.

Ironic isn’t it? By admitting our weakness we make the things that are the most important in our lives, our relationships, stronger.

Brene Brown’s viral Ted talk “The Power of Vulnerability” eloquently describes the difficulty of being vulnerable and the extraordinary upside of embracing this uncomfortable feeling. Brown explains that “vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.”

Allowing another person to love you, warts and all, is a struggle for so many of us. After all, who wants to dare show their less than desirable side to someone whose affection and admiration is important to us? Admitting we are dependent on another person is counter to the messages of self-suffiecency that is central to what we think of when we think of bring successful. And permitting another to take care of us taps into our insecurities of being a burden or a drain on another person.   And yet, when we force ourselves to do so it is within that margin of fear that true intimacy is born.

So, when you think about it,  being vulnerable it is the opposite of being weak. In fact, because it takes enormous courage, being vulnerable is one of the bravest things we can do. Being vulnerable is one of the greatest gifts we can give to someone we love.

Who’s the sucker now?