If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I love the topics of vulnerability and connection. Two of my favorite authors are Brene Brown and Rachel Macy Stafford. Brene writes and speaks about worthiness, and her information is all research-based. Rachel writes and speaks about this same topic from a personal and relationship-based perspective. I highly recommend checking out both of these authors, if you aren’t already familiar with their work.
So, how do we build deeper relationships with one another?
First, when you feel comfortable with someone, be it a new friend or partner or someone you’d like to get to know better, you can start to share bits and pieces of your own personal story to see how they react. Hopefully, this is also a catalyst for them to start opening up to you as well.
On the flip side, have you ever opened up to someone about your past or how you feel about something, and their reaction isn’t quite what you’re looking for in that moment? Maybe it was shock or anger or disbelief, when you just needed compassion and support and empathy from them. These interactions tell you so much about the other person, but they can be so very hurtful at the same time.
What if you have a grievance about something someone close to you has said or done? This also takes vulnerability, and often a lot of courage on your part to bring up something they have said or done that was hurtful to you.
What was their reaction when you brought their hurtful behavior to their attention? Did they sit with you and try to work it out? Did they become defensive and mean? Did they try to make it seem like it was actually all your fault? In these situations, it’s often hard to know ahead of time how people are going to react, which makes being vulnerable with others all that much harder. A negative reaction or verbal attack can be so harmful on so many levels. It, again, tells you so much information about the other person, and how they “do life.”
However, what about those instances when the other person was willing and able to see you, hear you and understand you and what you were trying to explain to them? Those people who are truly sorry about their actions and want to make things better with you. The people who want to learn and grow, even through the grievances other people have with them. Those interactions often leave us feeling more connected to the other person, because we leave the conversation feeling like they “get us.”
It can be so hard to be vulnerable with others, partly because there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the positive and supportive reaction from them that you’re looking for, even from someone you feel like you know really well.