“Love is not love until love’s vulnerable.” -Theodore Roethke
Sometimes people submit posts and I swear I could have written them myself. In reading their stories—learning about the emotions they’re feeling and the pain they’re healing—I feel close to them; and I also develop a better understanding of myself and what I need to do to keep growing.
Other times, I can’t relate to their experiences, but suddenly I feel compassion for behaviors I may formerly have misunderstood.
This, I believe is the power of vulnerability. When we open up to each other, we invite people to understand us, and let them know we want to understand them. We break down the barriers of judgment and fear and, in doing so feel safe, connected, and supported.
I came to Tiny Buddha from a far different place. Formerly, I lived in a world where security meant solitude, and connection meant pain. I saw everyone as someone waiting to hurt me, if I didn’t keep my guard up.
It’s easier to let your guard down when other people do the same. But the reality is someone has to go first. Intimacy doesn’t happen spontaneously. It’s something we have to create by choosing to be authentic.
That can be a scary thing—especially since we never know how we’ll be received when we put ourselves out there, or if other people will respond in kind.
Over the past few years, I’ve put a lot of effort into building solid friendships. This is something that’s always been challenging for me; or perhaps more accurately, something I always made difficult. Sometimes I tried too hard, or created drama, or pushed people away.
I wanted so badly to be loved and accepted, but in my fear of not receiving that, I set myself up to be feared and rejected.
I know now that meaningful, intimate relationships start when someone dares to be genuine; and that happiness is accepting the possibility of rejection and choosing not to reject ourselves in response.
My genuine truth is that I would prefer to live in a world where everyone else let their guard down first.
But if intimacy is seeing ourselves in each other, maybe it starts with understanding that other people may feel that way too.
Today I commit to going first—both to give love and acceptance and create the possibility of receiving them. Will you?
Photo by Christian Haugen