Trust and Vulnerability

Trust and Vulnerability January 6, 2015

Two key ingredients in healthy relationships are trust and vulnerability. The two go hand in hand but when someone has been hurt, it can be hard to regain trust or show vulnerability. Trust seems to get more air time than vulnerability probably because it’s easier to say “I trust you” while keeping one eye open. Vulnerability on the other hand is something more intimately shown or displayed through behavior to back up the words of trust given. Showing vulnerability can feel like giving up power or control to the other person. And sadly, some people are unable to, or don’t allow themselves, to show their vulnerability and may have never experienced true trustworthiness in another… Often never feeling or showing vulnerability until after their trust has been broken. The thing is, a certain amount of vulnerability is attractive and necessary in a reciprocal and healthy relationship.

As a therapist, vulnerability is something I am privileged to experience from others more than the average person and do you know what I find? Reserves of strength. It takes courage and commitment to trust and show vulnerability. If these two ingredients can be given and shown to a therapist they can be given and shown to others. That said, it can be easier to have and give trust, as well as show vulnerability to a professional who is warm, empathetic, and trained to “do no harm”. The stakes are lower than in an intimate relationship. Yet still, through a therapeutic relationship, exploration and self-recognition of strength and courage can be stepped outward toward others. It feels good to know you can be vulnerable and be met with care, concern, and trust. Fear and resistance are normal when it comes to protecting one’s self from being wounded again. However, a shift can occur when thinking of resistance as a natural process. For instance, did you know a bird could not fly without wind resistance? This means that resistance is necessary in order for the actions one takes to gain the results they desire. So a person who does not trust or show vulnerability cannot have a desired reciprocal relationship unless they overcome their resistance in the same way a bird cannot fly without overcoming wind resistance. Simply stated, you cannot have what you’re not willing to work for. Resistance or fear is the motivation to soar in a healthy relationship where giving and receiving are second nature, if that is truly what you want. One cannot gain or give trust without an exchange of vulnerability. It’s a prerequisite for both parties of a healthy reciprocal relationship.

Some people have little to no problem giving trust and showing vulnerability but are in no way trustworthy themselves. Why is that you might ask? Think of someone you know who is a victim or an extreme co-dependent. They can be very trusting of others and show all kinds of vulnerability but when it comes to commitment to their word, they don’t even trust themselves. For them, it can be a very isolating and lonely existence, not allowing for true connectedness. Usually, at some point in their lives, they too desire some kind of reciprocal relationship due to their internal sense of loneliness. In order to find a truly healthy relationship they have to learn to trust themselves first.

The signs and red flags of a poor connection in a relationship are helpful to heed. You know you have experienced them… Those gut feelings that something is not quite right about an individual. They have those same gut feelings too, even about themselves, they just tune them out through their default programing of desperate manipulation and “me first” behavior. Learning to listen and trust your gut intuitions can serve as self-preservation, a replacement to resistance; no matter if you’re the one looking not to get burned or the one who has no problem offering your trust and vulnerability but do not trust yourself. You can’t give and hold trust and commitment if you can’t trust and commit to yourself first. So for both parties, learning how to hold trust and be vulnerable with yourself allows for sharing trust and vulnerability with others. It can be no other way but deceiving to self and others.

If you want to trust and show vulnerability in order to have a healthy reciprocal relationship, contact me for a free consultation.

Aaron Foster

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