For most of us, when we’re in a relationship we become more vulnerable because that’s when we allow another person into our hearts and minds – there is more chance of being hurt and let down and for some people it’s a risk they don’t want to take.
However, to allow trust to develop between you there has to be a degree of vulnerability to pull down the walls you may usually surround yourself with and let the other person in. You need to show yourself to the other person and let them into your heart before a true depth of feeling can develop.
Some people spend a lot of time trying to protect themselves to keep others out but that can be very lonely. We can only hope that if we trust people and allow them in, they’ll respect us for being ourselves. However, our fear of ridicule, judgement or scaring the other person away can hold us back but giving a little at a time can help a lot.
Most of us think that we can’t help who we fall in love with and this sort of vulnerability and need for another person sometimes scares us because if we need someone, we are necessarily dependent upon them. But if you love someone in such a way, you have to take some responsibility for it – ultimately, you’re vulnerable because you choose to be vulnerable (hard to believe, I know!) and only you can decide whether you can cope with that and all it entails. If both people in the relationship do the same, it can be transforming.
The same is true in the therapeutic relationship – it’s the therapist’s responsibility to develop a relationship that helps the client to explore and resolve conflicts and dissatisfactions. Building trust the counselling sessions builds confidence and supports the changes that the client hopes to make.
The one who feels (or thinks they feel) the most vulnerable in the relationship is the one most likely to worry about getting hurt. However, it may be that they’re feeling the same – talking about this is the thing most likely to help. If your partner is being cool or you feel they’re uncaring, it may not be anything to do with you or your relationship so again, talk to them about what’s going on.
There is always the risk of getting hurt but, unless we live alone without any real human contact, there is always some risk but the larger the risk, hopefully the greater the reward.
If you’ve always seen yourself as ‘strong’, maybe you’ve just discovered your own vulnerability and it seems strange and uncomfortable. However, it’s a good opportunity to learn about another side to yourself so try to step back from being strong for a moment and remember that even superheroes had some weaknesses. For instance, Superman could be rendered powerless when he was exposed to Kryptonite but he learnt to protect himself and find strength outside of that.
Change doesn’t make you less of a person, it can make you more of a person. By giving yourself over to the feeling, change can make you more human and as long as you can reach out to someone, you’re not helpless. It can help to accept your position of vulnerability and move past the negative possibilities that may haunt you. It’s a bit scary but can be exciting too!
The human mind is very powerful but it can be difficult to control and sometimes we can start to think dark thoughts…. it is this sort of thinking that can ruin relationships, so it’s worth trying to control any negativity whilst still allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Try to remain focused on what’s going on and as long as it’s positive, go with it.
If you’re feeling vulnerable, ask yourself “Why am I afraid?”, “What can I do to improve things?” and “Will feeling like this help me?”. By trying to focus on what you can do to improve things, including your own well-being, you will bring more positivity into your life and your relationship. You’ll still feel vulnerable at times but become aware of how to deal with that feeling.
Psychotherapists and counsellors are not just people who give you advice (in fact, that’s rarely the case!) but as the therapy progresses and trust is established, you can use the sessions to bring about real change. It is this relationship that is so important and the self-revealing part of it helps with the healing of who you are.
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