Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Vulnerability

In my 19 January 2016 blog on truly unique relationships, I introduced three new criteria of which two have been dealt with in an earlier and in a subsequent blog: forgiveness and togetherness. Initially, I assumed that vulnerability would be self evident. And perhaps it’s self explanatory to most. There is however one aspect within vulnerability which is very special to me: big versus small.

During our life we play many roles: At home, at parenthood, at sports, at school, at work. Each of these roles are different in nature as we emphasise – and enlarge – a certain part of us. In all these situations, we show the big version of ourselves to others. The small version – the boy/girl inside us – gets easily ignored and neglected. A proper balance in life also requires being able to show our vulnerability. Else the big version gets more and more inflated. Until it bursts.

Showing the small version of ourselves requires a deep trust in the person to whom we show it. We need to be sure that this person will not lose respect in us after showing our vulnerability. It is quite likely that we will use moments of intimacy to show – and communicate about – our vulnerability. These moments of vulnerability are likely to enhance the feeling of togetherness. Together they would also constitute a basis for obtaining forgiveness for any mistakes and misunderstandings.

There is a clear downside to opening up to someone and showing your vulnerability as you may get rejected and/or your words may be held against you at a later date. That fear, besides the potential laughter and ridicule, is reason enough to be very careful in picking the moment and the person. It’s probably wise to dose the opening up process and to start by picking intimate moments.

Somehow I think and feel that the small version can enlarge – rather than inflate – the big version of us. To some extent, our big version may give us the courage to show our small version. In that way, showing our vulnerability may make us a “bigger”, better and a completer person. I suppose this is the essence of personal growth.

There is a big misconception about showing vulnerability at work. Many people prefer to pretend to be “big” to the person offering help at work. However, studies have shown that not accepting the help offered will cause a loss of respect for the one who is struggling. And do the reasons for offering help (eg, compassion, ego boost, self-interest) really matter? The reasons for not accepting help do matter (eg, false ego, false pride, shame). Also see my 9 September 2015 blog: Show some emotion.

As usual, our (mis)conception about vulnerability is rooted in our upbringing, education, past experiences and role models. And again, although financial warnings claim that “past performance is not indicative of future results”, our emotional alert system does think so. To many people, past negative experiences are indicative for future relationships. Also see my 10 January 2016 blog.

We all need someone who is on our side and who will learn us to trust again. It’s never really too late for that.

Never is too late (1977) by Joan Armatrading
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2 

Don’t be afraid
We all need someone
Who is on our side
Some things must not wait
And a pledge short lived or long
Is all that’s needed
Who’ll help
Asking for help from someone
Is not too easy

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