Vulnerability Gets a Bad Rap

I have seen that on the road to intimacy, I have to pass through the town of vulnerability. Yet, how often do I want to reroute myself to find another path, a more comfortable path, a safer path? Or said another way, a path that I believe I have more control over.

By definition, vulnerability has an element that you can’t control. When you let yourself be really you, with no pretenses, no defenses, no personas, you have no control over how another person is going to perceive you, accept you or love you. Underneath all control is fear, so it makes sense then that being vulnerable can feel scary.

But what if it doesn’t have to be? My experience of vulnerability is coming from within me. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with another person. If I feel safe, it  doesn’t matter what they do or say and if I don’t feel safe, there’s not much they can do or say to make me feel safe. Emotional safety is an inside job between you and Hashem. No one outside of you can make you feel safe, no matter how many times they tell you they love you. 

When I choose to indulge in my fear of being vulnerable, I lose out on what I want which is intimacy. When I am gifted to see that fear is made up of Thought, a belief I may have had since childhood, but a belief none the less, I can feel the fear and do it anyway. When I think the fear is real, a message being sent to protect me, I put up all my guards to defend myself. Truth be told, none of that looks like thought either, but it too is made up of thought constructs I’ve erected over the years to give me the semblance of being in control. As if I can control how others see me, what they think about me and whether or not they like me.

Wow, this need for control shows up a lot in my life. The good news is it’s starting to lose its luster. Somehow I’m on to it in a big way that I never was before. I’ve been living in a giant illusion: the illusion that I can control anything, the illusion that I can control how I show up in the world to others, the illusion that being in control brings me intimacy, the illusion that control (i.e. not being vulnerable) keeps me safe. 

Control and vulnerability cannot coexist. Control and intimacy cannot coexist. I’ve chosen control most of my life (innocently of course), but now I am realizing I want something more real. Vulnerability and intimacy coexist. Vulnerability is a momentary dropping of your ego which by definition allows room for holiness, G-dliness, connection beyond yourself. In that space, intimacy occurs, deep soul connection between you and your spouse, you and yourself and you and Hashem. I invite you to try it!  

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By Aviva Barnett, MSW



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