Do you find it difficult to ‘let your guard down’ to other people?
Has anyone ever called you self-protective?
Self-Protection vs Vulnerability
Being self- protective means being ‘guarded‘ and protective of our feelings and ideas. On the opposing side, being vulnerable means opening ourselves up to be seen fully, as we are, flaws and all.
The idea of vulnerability is scary to many, if not most of us. There are many reasons for this, the fear of being hurt, the fear of being judged, and also because often we feel fundamentally inadequate.
So with all these fears and doubts present, and through our own insecurity, instead of opening up to be seen,
We shut ourselves down.
This usually happens completely unconsciously, and often comes from the pain that we have experienced in the past.
Our self-protection mechanisms might tell us something like “If I was to open myself up and really be seen, then the other person will see the mess that I really am and leave me.”
Nobody wants to be alone. We all want to be loved.
Fear reinforces the idea that we are only ‘liked’ or loved when we show up in a certain way. This creates a disconnect to the reality of being human; an ever-evolving experience filled with emotions, challenges and which is, by its very nature, messy.
When we avoid vulnerability out of fear, we run away from our humanness.
On top of this, in a world obsessed with social media, not only are we avoiding our humanness, but we are also attempting to manipulate and control our reality through the perceptions of others.
We are filtering and photoshopping away the very thing that makes us unique.
Because of this, the idea of being truly seen is becoming more and more terrifying.
We obsess over creating online personas that reflect only aspects of who we are, but are usually reserved for just the highlights. Through this, there is a subtle and toxic pattern of avoidance being created.
Avoidance of intimacy. Avoidance of truth. | Self Protection vs Vulnerability
The idea of being seen in our completeness, flaws and all, is no longer a safe option. The risk of being hurt or perceived negatively has become too terrifying and many of us are instead choosing to avoid vulnerability altogether.
The tragedy here is that is through vulnerability that we create deep connections to others.
It’s no wonder the world is in a state of disarray.
In order to truly connect in our relationships, we HAVE to learn to be vulnerable. We have to learn to strip away at the masks and personas that we have created in an attempt to preserve our safety and we have to learn to trust one another.
If we don’t, then we are never going to be able to connect at the level that we want and in fact, we will have less intimacy and safety in our lives.
Ironically, our safety is the very thing we are trying to protect by keeping our walls up.
Life is full of paradoxes, self-protection vs vulnerability is an art we must practice to get right .
In the end, there is no guarantee that being vulnerable won’t get you hurt. Sorry. But it’s far better to give yourself the opportunity to experience deep, loving connections than living life by halves, don’t you think?