Vulnerability: Absolutely Risky. And Absolutely Necessary

Dr. John Townsend

November 3, 2020

You and I need people in our lives who care deeply about us, who are safe, and who want our best. We want them to  “be there” with us, to encourage us when we are discouraged, to give us insight on what’s going on, and to call us to the right action steps to make life better. It’s just the way we are wired. Neuroscience research has proven that our brains naturally seek to be connected to each other,  in deep and meaningful ways.

All of these good things require an ingredient called vulnerability. Vulnerability makes it all happen. I define this as the act of expressing our needs, failures and struggles to others, and expressing both the thoughts and the feelings we have about them. You see the two parts of this equation:  (1) Getting beyond the positives and bringing up the negatives you’re experiencing these days; and (2) being both rationally honest,  and emotionally honest at the same time.  

Why is vulnerability necessary? Simply put, we are only fully loved to the extent that we are fully known. If someone knows only the positives about you, and your rational thoughts, you are being half known. That puts a ceiling on you, of being half loved. And being half loved feels empty and alone. Because it is. But if someone knows your negatives, and your feelings about that, that’s the whole package. You experience comfort, support, wisdom and a host of other benefits. 

But vulnerability does involve risk. There is always a chance that the other person could respond in some unsupportive way. So make sure that you are taking this very important risk with the right people. They must be full of grace, full of truth, and vulnerable themselves. They may not be perfect, but they will be warm with you when you open up.

Vulnerability is absolutely risky. And absolutely necessary. Take the step with the right people.



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