“Vulnerable authenticity is our greatest strength.” What do we mean by that? Most people equate vulnerability with weakness or feeling unsafe because you are exposing yourself to harm, and let’s face it, no one likes to feel exposed. In this video, Sharmen gives you a different perspective on what is really means to be vulnerable in a relationship, and why it is the key to intimacy (or “into me see” as we call it) which is the key to a healthy relationship.
She gives examples of how men and women respond differently to the fear of being vulnerable, or at least what they think that means, and why vulnerability, when viewed as authenticity, it is not only a strength, but absolutely critical to a healthy relationship.
What it Really Means To Be Vulnerable In a Relationship
Authenticity and Vulnerability: Exploring Nuances
There are certain words in the English language that possess layers of nuance and meaning, and among them, “authenticity” and “vulnerability” stand out prominently. Depending on how we use them or the context in which we apply them, these words can take on various interpretations.
Both authenticity and vulnerability are frequently discussed in the realms of leadership coaching, personal growth, and relationships. However, they are often associated with negative connotations, often seen as intimidating or even risky. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the concepts of authenticity and vulnerability, and why they are not weaknesses but rather sources of strength.
Authenticity: Embracing the Real Self
Authenticity, at its core, pertains to being real, genuine, and transparent. It involves unveiling what is authentic, substantive, and not a mere façade that can easily crumble. To be authentic means allowing others to see your true self, including your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. However, many individuals equate authenticity with vulnerability, believing that revealing their authentic selves exposes them to potential harm or rejection.
Vulnerability: The Fear of Exposure
Vulnerability encompasses two facets: the raw and unfiltered nature of exposing your true self, as well as the fear that this exposure could lead to devastating consequences. When we are vulnerable, we put ourselves out there, fully and unapologetically. Yet, we also acknowledge the risk of being hurt or rejected. It is crucial to recognize that vulnerability, in this context, is about the depth of the relationship, not the sense of self.
The Distinction: Identity vs. Relationship
One common mistake is conflating our identity with the dynamics of a relationship. When someone rejects our authentic self, they are not erasing our identity but rather damaging the connection between us. It is essential to differentiate between who we are and the state of our relationships. Failing to do so leads to giving others the power to define our sense of self, which can be detrimental.
The Gender Perspective on Vulnerability
Men often associate vulnerability with weakness, leading to reactive behaviors that emphasize control and bravado. In contrast, women may view vulnerability as exposure to harm, prompting more regressive responses like withdrawal, victimhood, or submission. While both perspectives involve an element of exposure, the nuances in how they respond are significant.
The Antidote: Self-Knowledge and Boundaries
Regardless of gender, the antidote to vulnerability lies in self-awareness. Understanding who you are and what you genuinely feel and think is essential for maintaining authenticity. Self-awareness enables you to make decisions that align with your sense of self and interact with others congruently. It also allows you to establish healthy boundaries, safeguarding your authenticity while respecting others’ authenticity.
Authenticity and Connection
To form meaningful connections, one must break free from hiding behind facades and allow oneself to be known. Authenticity is the key to genuine connections. Attempting to connect on a superficial level, while concealing your true self, will only lead to loneliness and a sense of being unloved. Being loved means being known, and true authenticity invites meaningful connections.
Embracing Authentic Living
Stepping into authentic living can be daunting, as it may disrupt existing relationships built on facades. This shift may cause upheaval, confusion, and even the loss of certain connections. Some people may resist your authenticity, preferring shallowness to depth. However, the potential for deeply connected and authentic relationships is worth the initial turmoil.
In conclusion, authenticity and vulnerability are not weaknesses but strengths that can deepen relationships and foster personal growth. To harness these strengths, one must know oneself and maintain firm boundaries.
Embracing authenticity may lead to temporary fallout, but the rewards of profound, genuine relationships are immeasurable. Ultimately, authenticity is the foundation upon which true connections are built, offering the profound fulfillment that our souls seek and crave.
Also read: Does Marriage Counseling Work?
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.