Using Good Judgment in Being Vulnerable

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Anyone who knows these two beautiful ladies has had the privilege of witnessing a beautiful friendship. A friendship that began before preschool and has lasted over the years. It makes me wonder why some relationships are so rich and yet others are not.

I personally believe that the pathway to developing deep connecting rich relationships in our lives is by our willingness to open our heart. Open our heart to know and to be known. To be willing to truly know another person, and to let another person know you.  Brene Brown has created conversations around this very topic using the word vulnerability.

The other day I had a conversation with my friend Melanie about being vulnerable.  I said to her “Don’t we take a great risk in letting others know us, because those who know us, have a greater ability to also hurt us?’

This was her reply, which I think is very insightful:

I feel like the people that I have in my inner circle–the people that know me the best, the people I trust the most–are those, like you say, that could also hurt me the most. They have that potential because I have allowed them to be in my inner circle and I have allowed myself to open up to them.

If something were to happen between me and someone in that group, it would be really hard for me because of that closeness. But at the same time I feel like those people that I have let into my inner circle are the people who wouldn’t do that because of the relationship that we have.

I’ve had friends who have disappointed me before and I think as a result, I have some friends who are more “surface” friends, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think everyone needs to figure out how much of themselves they can share with everybody else.  

There are certain people that I feel like I cannot allow into that inner circle because they are just not interested.  I would love to have them be that close and I would love to have a better relationship with them, but they don’t seem to reciprocate that same feeling.  I don’t want to hurt myself if they’re not invested. Why should I be vulnerable to them if I am 99% sure I’m just going to get hurt, or maybe not hurt, but maybe just ignored or not appreciated?

I have a couple friends that I really adore. They are darling wonderful people, but I don’t feel like they are the first ones I would call for help or advice or in a crisis. I feel like they would be on the list of people I would call, but definitely not as high as I would like them to be if they wanted to, or were interested in investing in our relationship.  They have other places that they are spreading their priorities and that’s okay. We can still be “surface” friends. But I don’t feel like that’s a bad choice–I’m not being vulnerable with them because they have other priorities–I feel like I’m being wise with my choices of who I am vulnerable with.

I feel like marriage is a whole different ball game. Because for me, my husband is the one I’m closest to. He’s the first one I turn to.  He’s the one who knows the most about me. As a result he’s the one who could do the most damage.  But because we’re that close–because we are both heavily invested in this relationship–I feel like he would know better, that he would not want to cause that damage.  Obviously I’m not going to have that same kind of relationship with my friends. If I consider my circles of influence radiating outward from me, my husband would be in the closest one, my sisters might be in the next circle, and my best friends would be the next one from there and so on and so forth. But because I don’t choose to allow everyone into my closest inner circle, does that mean I’m not being vulnerable, or that I’m just not being vulnerable with everyone? Shouldn’t there be different degrees of vulnerability? I think that would be an important aspect of the term that we can choose to honor in our own situations.

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