Vulnerability and Strength

It’s not uncommon for people to sit in my office, feeling very down emotionally, and tell me they believe they are weak. I don’t believe our problems make us weak. We are often vulnerable, however. One of the benefits of therapy is to acknowledge our vulnerabilities. We can only become stronger when we can identify those areas – then decide if/how we can change them.

When we say the things that others want to hear, regardless of our own truth, or allow others or our environment to dictate how we behave, we might see ourselves as weak. As I’ve studied human life and explored my own sense of spirituality, I’ve come to understand that most of us have to go through these periods in order to experience how that feels. Our world is one where we often learn from opposites, so when we’re finally tired of feeling the way we feel when we aren’t living in our own truth, we’ll be motivated to change. That’s a process – and often a very slow one. But when we recognize that it’s OK to be who we really are, we’ll naturally be drawn to making the choices we need to make.

People respect strength, but they identify with vulnerability. Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s getting in touch with our humanity. Just stop to think. In your experience, who have you felt more comfortable with? Someone who always portrays themselves as strong and never admits to or allows anyone to see that they’ve made mistakes? Or someone who occasionally says, “Hey, I really screwed this one up!”  I know in my life I’m drawn to those who are human – just like me.

Strength is operating from effectiveness – with integrity and truth. The ability and willingness to acknowledge our vulnerabilities is a sign of strength.

The following comes from one of my favorite authors, Melody Beattie. She writes like I think, so almost everything she writes resonates with me:

Many of us feel that we can only show our strong, confident side. We believe the face we have to show to the world should ALWAYS be one of politeness, perfection, calm, strength, and control.

While it is certainly good and often appropriate to be in control, calm, and strong, there is another side to all of us — that part of us that feels needy, becomes frightened, has doubts, and gets angry. That part of us that needs care, love, and reassurance that things will be okay. Expressing these needs makes us vulnerable and less than perfect, but this side needs our acceptance too.

Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable will help us build lasting relationships. Sharing our vulnerabilities helps us feel close to people and helps others feel close to us. It helps us grow in self-love and self-acceptance. It helps us become healing agents. It allows us to become whole and accessible to others.

Today, I will allow myself to be vulnerable with others when it’s safe and appropriate to do so.

 I’ve learned that the more vulnerable I allow myself to be, the more in control of myself I really am.         -Anonymous