This post is for anyone who has made themselves deeply vulnerable in a relationship and was shamed in return. I know it hurts. I know it felt horrible. But I salute you. I honor you. Because vulnerability in a relationship means you risk being known.
Learn and grow from the experience. Regardless of why the person did it, use the experience as an opportunity for self-reflection and growth. Consider how you can learn from it. Focus on personal development and making positive changes if that feels appropriate to do.
Don't let anyone, not a parent, a boss, or a romantic partner, drive you into hiding.
In a healthy relationship, opening up and sharing your emotions, dreams, and even your most shameful or embarrassing moments means embracing your vulnerability.
"Connection is why we're here."
So says Brene Brown in one of her most popular TEDx talks. Perhaps you did not share your deepest self with the right person, but you did share, which took bravery and courage. Never apologize for loving deeply and being vulnerable.
It takes courage to admit you are imperfect. It takes self-compassion. We can't be compassionate toward others unless we are first compassionate with ourselves. And when those you love shame you for your flawed humanity, this is the time to treat yourself with kindness.
Being kind to ourselves is important for our mental health. It allows us to create healthy relationships with those who deserve our love. When we are kind to ourselves, we can forgive our mistakes and accept our imperfections. This helps us build stronger relationships with others since we stop focusing on our flaws and accept them as part of us.
Continue to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart
Be courageous in your imperfections. You will get nowhere by pretending you are someone you are not. You will be able to connect with others only by being truly authentic. You have to do that for true connection. What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.
None of us will accept our worthiness when it is "granted" by others. At its core, vulnerability is a willingness to face shame and fear. From this self-acceptance comes a deeper sense of self, creativity, belonging, and love.
The opposite of vulnerability is not invulnerability; it is numbness
People try to numb their grief, shame, fear, or disappointment by puffing themselves up, drinking or drugging, or shaming and criticizing others. They attempt to release internal pain, embarrassment, and discomfort by externalizing it.
We might seek greater certainty about our own worthiness by judging others. But instead of experiencing heightened self-satisfaction at our inherent goodness, we become more numb. Numbness kills joy, gratitude, and happiness. The more afraid and ashamed we feel, the more we cling to the certainty that others are wrong, unacceptable, or unworthy. The more we cling to this certainty, the less alive we feel.
If someone tries to shame you, let yourself be seen. Accept the flaws and embarrassments they hope you'll hide. Love with your whole heart, especially those parts of yourself you least want to expose.
When you fully embrace your true self, not just your most positive self, you also give that gift to others. When you accept this vulnerability, you feel more alive. When you forgive yourself for this humanity, others can forgive themselves, too.
If someone shames you and makes you more afraid of being exposed, thank them. Go beyond your current level of self-acceptance.
Look deep into your heart to understand why you feel like you do. Accept what you know to be true, even if that leaves you feeling raw and exposed. Go boldly into your own emotional landscape. Understand your emotions, needs, and fears and accept them for what they are.
Vulnerability requires trust, so begin by trusting yourself and your inherent goodness. Please don't turn the tables and point out others flaws. That's a rookie move that drives you both into hiding. Accept the very human moments when you let yourself down; those embarrassing times when you showed yourself to be
· forgetful or
· failed to honor your commitments.
You were less than your most positive self. We don't gain trust by being flawless. We earn it by being honest, even when we fail to be honorable. Maybe especially then. Someone truly capable of loving accepts us, even in our darkest moments. Trying to shame us is the opposite of love.
You shared your heart and soul with them. This was not a mistake. It was your strength.
You are not "too much, too honest, too exposed, too flawed." You are just right, exactly as you are. Trust that.
Understand that vulnerability often involves exposing your imperfections, greatest failures, and least honorable moments. Recognizing that everyone has flaws and sharing them can foster greater intimacy. Denying or minimizing our weaknesses does the opposite.
Too often, we share these imperfections to gain acceptance. However, the goal is to accept yourself first and love yourself anyway.
If they shamed you, you should silently thank them. If you feel self-blame, here is your roadmap toward increased self-acceptance. Don't shrink away. Follow your feelings wherever they lead you, and look at yourself unflinchingly.
Express and own your emotions and needs.
Some people with big egos or dismissive manners may quickly criticize you for being "needy" or wanting "too much attention" when you are vulnerable and ask for reassurance. If you've asked for what you want, someone can refuse you. However, for some, more than this refusal is needed. The sadistic among us want to punish those who display vulnerability. They see it as a weakness and despise it.
You don't have to accept that judgment. Accept your partner's unwillingness to give you love or attention. Don't chase or plead with them for it. Move on if it is a regular feature of your relationship with them.
You aren't making a demand when you use an "I" statement to express how you feel. It is a request to foster understanding and connection. Find those people who want to meet your needs and provide love and attention.
Some can't tolerate another's vulnerability because they see it for what it is: self-exposure. These same souls are intolerant to exposing their most vulnerable selves, so the strongest thing they can do is undermine you.
Practice patience and understanding.
Vulnerability can be challenging and uncomfortable, so be patient with yourself and others. Understand that it takes time and effort to cultivate a vulnerable self. If it's comfortable to share, it's likely to be a shtick and not a vulnerability.
Offer understanding, support, and encouragement as you navigate this process together.
Never, ever stop being authentic.
Being authentic isn't an excuse to be critical or cruel. The focus isn't on someone else. It means expressing your thoughts, feelings and desires clearly and directly. Be willing to listen actively and empathetically to your partner without judgment or defensiveness. Strive for honesty and compassion to create a space where vulnerability can flourish.
Start with small steps.
Begin by discussing your day, sharing a personal accomplishment, or expressing a mild concern. Build up to more significant and vulnerable topics as trust and comfort between you and your partner deepen.
Be receptive to your partner's vulnerability.
Encourage and support your partner's vulnerability. You can create a non-judgmental and compassionate space for them to express themselves. Listen attentively and validate their feelings. Provide reassurance and empathy. Being receptive to your partner's vulnerability can create a reciprocal dynamic where both feel safe and supported.
Remember, vulnerability is a gradual process that requires mutual effort and trust-building in a relationship. It involves emotional risks. That is inevitable and can lead to rejection. But it can lead to a deeper connection, emotional intimacy, and a stronger bond with the right partner.