Thursday, January 19, 2012

Strong Enough To Be Vulnerable

Writer Louise Hay, the godmother of affirmations, wrote this one about vulnerability that I love:
"It is healing for me to show emotions. It is safe for me to be vulnerable."

One of the most beautiful things about people to me is when they have been through loss or difficulty, but it has not broken them. Life's challenges can break you open instead. It's been said that when your heart breaks, that's where the light can get in. I admire tremendously when people cultivate both their strength and vulnerability. It's an unstoppable combination of traits which will serve as a standard for others.

It takes a strong person to be honest about who you truly are, and what you are needing in your closest relationships. Many people do intimacy dances where they hide parts of themselves, and are fearful to really be known by the intimate other, or let the other person see your fears, hurts from childhood wounds, or your biggest hopes and dreams for your life and for the relationship.
I find people can't act forever. In your closest relationships, one will begin to resent and detach from the other person if you aren't brave about talking through your needs, your hopes, and your hurts, and listening from the heart to your partner's side on each of these concerns.

In relationships, we are always in motion, either getting closer, or drifting further away. It takes a brave and vulnerable individual to talk with your partner honestly about what is working well, and where you would like to do things differently with each other. Many people are starving emotionally in their relationship, and you can begin to correct the trajectory by talking about what you need and want, not in anger, but with love and vulnerability.

Being strong with your children may mean being a responsible parent who provides structure, consistency and predictability. (Think paying the bills, serving dinner at 6, helping them with homework, having household rules). Being vulnerable may mean being willing to apologize freely from the heart when you overreact or misstep. Sorry,but nobody's perfect, parents included. Being vulnerable might be hugging, tucking in, making plans to hang out together, or letting them know when you feel close to them, or what they mean to you. You can't imagine the number of adults I've seen in therapy over the last 20 years who never felt like they got the love, attention, tenderness, or approval from their parents that they needed. Good news! You can break the cycle and give your children that emotional tenderness they are needing. Start today by telling them, or writing them a personal letter about what they mean to you.

Remind yourself this week, by repeating Louise Hay's insightful affirmation to yourself ten times a day: "It is healing for me to show emotions. It is safe for me to be vulnerable today." Imagine not only an individual who cultivates strength and vulnerability, but also you and your partner, your family, your community, and all whose lives you touch. It's a wonderful, hopeful picture.

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