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THE FEAR OF VULNERABILITY
First: It is very hard to express love when staying in a place of anger to avoid vulnerability. Since it is our vulnerability and feelings that make us human, rather than robotic, avoiding our vulnerability leads to shutting down loving, caring, and empathic feelings and experiences. Our hearts become more and more hardened by our efforts to defend against vulnerability, until we become angry and deadened inside. Safety, at this price, leads to loss of a sense of awareness and connection to ourselves and others.
Second: Our awareness of, and connection with, our feelings and needs allows us to empathize with the pain and suffering of others. Remaining out of touch with our own sensitive and vulnerable feelings leads to disconnection from others and a growing sense of isolation. Since connection has been shown to be heavily involved with our sense of happiness in life, we end up reducing our joy and happiness that could have resulted from connection with others.
Third: The loss of connection with others leads to the hardening of ourselves against vulnerability. A vicious cycle ensues, leading to further hardening and avoidance of seeming “weak” and withdrawal into self- protective mechanisms. This terrible cycle also leads to increased feelings of anger, shutting down due to isolation, and the loss of awareness of ones more vulnerable feelings and needs. Deep loneliness and bitterness can ensue.
Playing it safe to this degree stems from the lack of a sense of being loved, feeling secure and feeling safe to express one’s feelings. Believing that one’s self esteem is always threatened can lead to further withdrawal and protectiveness. Someone who feels loved and safe in themselves doesn’t move to anger to avoid vulnerability or feeling “weak,” since they already feel strong in their vulnerability. For them, vulnerability is not weakness, but strength, because those who feel love and secure within themselves are strong enough to be vulnerable. We have confused strength for weakness, and weakness for strength, when it comes to vulnerability, feelings and needs.
So, what can help increase our willingness to feel and express our more vulnerable feelings:
Dr. Lance is a licensed Psychologist with 20 years of experience practicing in Glendale, California. He is a member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network. You can contact Dr. Lance at: 818-265-4052, or e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2012 by Jeffrey Lance Ph.D.
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