“Vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
~ Brené Brown
From my research and experience, a closed heart is not something we choose, it is something that happens.
Oftentimes after a profound betrayal of trust, a mechanism inside of us is tripped causing us to believe the reason we were betrayed, hurt or abandoned is because we dared to love.
We blame our broken heart on our open heart and vow to never let another person hurt us again. We wall up and close down.
We continually attempt relationships from behind a barricade (closed heart) only peeking out occasionally to see if the coast is clear. We form the mindset: When I know for sure I am accepted then I will open up. Thus we withhold the secret ingredient needed for deep connection – an open heart/vulnerability.
Paradoxically, the defense mechanism we adopted is dreadfully misguided and only serves to exacerbate the problem and continue the cycle.
When we wall up and close down, we almost always end up getting hurt. The very thing we are trying to avoid, we attract.
A walled heart cannot give or receive love hence sabotaging the building of a firm foundation. What we think is “protecting” us is actually a slow death to our relationship.
4 Reasons Why Invulnerability is a Relationship Killer
1. When we cease to express our divine nature and authenticity (vulnerability), we are selling a false self to our partner.
We will not ever truly trust their love because deep inside we know they have fallen for an imposter. Lack of trust breeds disconnection and disconnection kills relationships.
2. If we are not open to expressing our thoughts, affection and feelings we are not giving our partner the connection and security s/he craves as well.
When we put the entire burden of security on our partner, s/he will eventually exhaust of it and lose interest in the relationship. Our partner needs to feel safe and loved just like we do.
3. We don’t trust/love/respect who we are hence, we project that outward and are constantly suspicious of our partner’s feelings and motives.
We assign stories to his/her behavior and create unnecessary drama. Repeated unnecessary drama is a major turn off.
4. We act out in ways to get attention because the mere fact that they are with us is not enough.
We must have it proven to us over and over again. Being with us becomes exhausting work.
The Give and Take of Relationships
It’s incredibly burdensome for one person in the relationship to be responsible for the connection. Humans enter relationships for all the same reasons. We all crave intimacy, connection, belonging, safety and love.
If one side is not opening their heart and vulnerably sharing his/her thoughts, feelings and authentic self, the other side will not be getting their needs met.
When our beloved opens to us, he will long for our openness in return. His openness is his giving to us.
Naturally we will take from him. When we wall up and cease to share our authentic self, we are not giving back to our partner. Therefore we are forever in the taking position and he is forever in the giving position. Make sense?
We cannot expect to take from our partner, but never to give.
I’ve experienced this type of relationship and it was painful and exhausting. My partner enjoyed and reveled in my openness, but his heart was closed. He was so petrified of getting hurt again he withheld his feelings, affection and loving words.
He relied on me to keep him safe, but did nothing to boost my security in the relationship. I began to question the entire relationship and soon enough I felt alone and insecure.
Needless to say the relationship ended because I was not strong enough to carry both of us. I needed his open heart to meet my open heart.
Lopsided relationships can create one of three outcomes:
Outcome #1 – He starts to lose interest in you because he does not feel love coming to him through your words and actions. He will interpret your behavior as you not caring.
Outcome #2 – He won’t feel secure in the relationship because he is not getting back what he is giving. Insecurity on either side always creates drama.
Outcome #3 – The relationship will lose momentum because only one side is contributing to the depth and connection. Additionally, all give and no take is exhausting.
It is very difficult to be in a lopsided relationship. Relationships need reciprocity in order to thrive.
We need to understand how our vulnerability and open heart refills our partner’s love cache and when his love cache is full he has even more to give back to you!
Taking the Leap
Anytime we say no to vulnerability we are telling the universe we don’t really want a deep connection or the safety of a devoted partner.
Ironically, the very thing we fear doing is the very thing that will help us reach our goal of a loving, reciprocal relationship.
As with all advancements on our path, there comes a time when we have to summon up the courage to take a leap. What have you got to lose?
Love is not a scary thing – love is a beautiful thing. And nothing feels better than to see, hear, feel and know your partner’s soul.
The key to opening your heart is to know that the risk of staying closed will cause you far more pain in the long run than taking a brave step toward the relationship you’ve always wanted.
4 Steps to Opening Your Heart
1. Recognize the fear – Acknowledgment is always step one. It might look something like this:
- I am afraid of getting hurt again.
- I am afraid of being myself.
- I am afraid I will not be accepted for who I am.
- I am afraid there is something wrong with me.
2. Believe in your worth
Our level of self-worth is at the core of how able we are to express our authentic nature. Cultivate your self-worth and watch your world change right before your eyes.
3. Don’t confuse your new partner with the one who caused you pain
When we make our new partner pay for the sins of the previous one, our relationship doesn’t stand a chance. Your new partner isn’t the one who hurt you. Believe what you are seeing and give him a chance to love you.
4. Commit to “practice” vulnerability
Give yourself permission to express all that makes you, you. Release the need for approval and by all means give yourself grace along your journey. As with all great accomplishments, committing to the goal is key! One step forward is better than no steps forward.
Becoming vulnerable again after emotional pain is an inside job. No one or no-thing out there can do this for us. The time has come to step bravely into your worth and open your heart to the relationship/love you deserve!
Kristen Brown, Certified Empowerment Coach/Mentor – www.kristenbrown.org
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