What’s comes to mind when you hear “vulnerability?”
This word is commonly associated with weakness or shame. Being vulnerable means to be emotionally exposed, which is not something that comes naturally to everyone. However, there has been a recent push by researchers to embrace it, especially in the context of relationships.
Whether it is with a romantic partner, family, or friends, we may put up a wall in order to protect ourselves from getting hurt. What is the cost of this? From behind the wall, we deprive ourselves of experiencing the joy and satisfaction that comes from growing a bond with another person.
What are the benefits?
If you’re still not convinced, consider the fact that practicing vulnerability may not only improve your relationships but your overall health as well. Recent findings have established a connection between social vulnerability and positive health outcomes, which include:
- Better immune function
- Reduced stress levels
- Lowered blood pressure
- Balanced hormones
These outcomes are all associated with vulnerability in healthy relationships and the list goes on. Health-related behaviors are also impacted as you tend to open yourself up to better diet choices, exercise habits, interpersonal communication, and there’s also a reduced likelihood to use harmful substances.
Not ready? We get it.
Opening up to others can, understandably, be scary for a lot of people. The uncertainty of emotional exposure appears too great of a risk. Those who have been hurt, lied to, abused, or suffered great losses in the past may have a particularly difficult time with vulnerability.
While every breakthrough that comes from understanding your vulnerability fears is a gratifying part of the process, learning to let your guard down is something that takes time and practice.
Talk therapy can serve as guidance to help you through this process. Know that when you are ready, professionals are available with the tools to get you started.