Healthy relationships are such an integral part of our lives. When you are on a healing journey, relationships provide us with the emotional support we need to heal. But the irony is that having been hurt, it’s so difficult to trust again. I’ve found that starting over and relating with vulnerability and authenticity is the only way forward.
Self-Protect Mode Keeps Us From Relating Authentically
I know from a series of hurtful experiences with others, how easy it is to get into self-protect mode. You find it hard to share, to be vulnerable, to trust. New connections are a no-no and every relationship is viewed with suspicion. Not relating is certainly not healthy.
- Engaging in numbing behaviors involves shutting ourselves off from negative emotions like anguish, discomfort, and regret. Dr. Brown emphasizes that this approach isn’t selective; opting not to feel the negative also means forfeiting the positive emotions. Emotions, she asserts, are comprehended in relation to one another.
- When faced with uncertainty, we often yearn for clarity by attributing our pain to a definite and tangible cause, be it an event or an individual. We try hard to make the uncertain certain by assigning a name to it, even if the attribution is unjust or inaccurate.
- Perfecting is another coping mechanism where we attempt to organize or rationalize our emotions. In seeking simple and foolproof solutions, we oversimplify the intricate and multifaceted nature of our emotions.
- Pretending involves evading responsibility for the part we might have played in causing our own pain. By downplaying our own shortcomings, we deflect accountability for actions that may have impacted others.
Relating With Vulnerability and Authenticity
In his poem, “Self-Protection,” D.H. Lawrence poses the question, Is the best self-protection hiding who you are or being who you are? He goes on to point out that only the creatures wholly and colorfully themselves have survived the centuries. The ones who have been camouflaged have perished.
Dr Brené Brown talks about how we build deep and meaningful connection with others:
Reveal your authentic self. Embracing vulnerability, although initially daunting, can foster deeper and more meaningful connections with others and bring the gratification of self-acceptance.
Love wholeheartedly. While there’s no assurance of avoiding pain in the face of unforeseen circumstances, offering genuine love with good intentions is a positive endeavor.
Cultivate gratitude and joy. Actively acknowledge and pursue activities that bring fulfillment and joy into your life.
Acknowledge your inherent worth. Recognize that you, just as you are, deserve connection and acceptance. By being genuine and open, you invite respect from others who appreciate your authenticity, just as you value theirs.
Embracing our vulnerabilities brings us together. Of late, I’ve been venturing to share more deeply not just here, but also in person. When I share my fears, insecurities, and struggles, it creates a deeper connection with others. Opening up about imperfections breaks down the facade of perfection and allows for more authentic relationships. Through our shared vulnerabilities, I realize I’m not alone, fostering a sense of community and understanding. Exploring the power of vulnerability in my own life has taught me that it’s a crucial element in building strong, genuine connections.
This is Day 33 of My 66-day Journey of Healing Through Writing and Sharing.