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More on being vulnerable

by Sy OgulnickMarch 2016

One thing for sure is that it’s not easy to be volitionally vulnerable and why the majority of us view this as an experience to avoid. Obviously, we learn very early in our lives of its (too often) hurtful consequences. The problem, and a serious one, is that being vulnerable to those significant to us is essential if we are to have a meaningful relationship. What is missed if we remain closed (invulnerable) to the important people in our lives are all of the most important reasons for being in a relationship.

It does not take much to do harm to what we all need from our significant relationships. If a person is not present and open to the person they are supposed to be in dialogue with no one is fooled. This demands being fully present with the other, respecting them, listening to what is being said and working hard to understand what they are trying to convey. All very important ingredients and yet none of this means we have to agree, but definitely that each of us is understood. And if necessary confirmed for what is said and done. All, of which must be the actual experience between any two or more people, if dialogue is to be authentic. And there is always the probability of learning something when one is vulnerable. Also in the process another very valuable attribute is conveyed and it’s called courage. It takes considerable courage to be open, let go of our defenses and, of course, to being all of the above.

Of course it takes courage to be vulnerable to those significant to us. In particular due to our learning early on about the possible dangers and pain associated with being vulnerable and abused in the process. In spite of, or maybe due to, the need for meaningful relationships are so great that those that have the courage actually seek out relationships of substance that travels in both directions. And they are the most courageous people I have known.  Experiencing the other’s openness and receptivity to at least listen and understand is a special moment between people that naturally wants to be built on. And, yes, it gets easier and better with time. 

In the work environments as people became more open with each other (and in particular with the leader) one of the more interesting phenomena had to be the need for people to have, in their personal lives, what had become the nurturing environment in the workplace. As people experienced more openness between them they also felt safer, respected and important to the overall tasks at hand. In actuality they came to own their job, not just do their job.  And they wanted “genuine dialogue” and receptivity to be the case in their personal relationships.

What I would suggest to all is being who one is and what we are becoming and to drop as much as possible the expectations and wishful thinking they have for the important relationships in their lives. At the same time I would caution not to force this courage and openness on others. In particular if this open and honest behavior comes from a leader (any holder of power and influence). On the hopeful side there exists in all of us the need to be part of community, family, or relationship of only two. The best way for this to possibly occur is to be who you are (NOW) to the other. Courage to be volitionally vulnerable gets paid off in so many remarkable and positive ways.  Although we are gifts to each other too many must rediscover this.                Sy

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