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Vulnerability – Improve Intimacy

Improve Intimacy

There is a vulnerability crisis in this world. 

Open communication improves intimacy.

Cultivating intimacy (both emotional and physical) can be quite a challenge when a person’s shame meets the other’s and create a perfect shame storm. Brene Brown says that when she asked men, women, and couples: how do you practice wholeheartedness around sensitive and personal issues?  One answer came up again and again: honest, loving conversations that require significant vulnerability.

One man Brown interviewed stated,

“Even in my own life, when my wife isn’t interested (in sexual intimacy), I still have to battle feelings of shame…I’m vulnerable and it’s very difficult.” 

Intimacy and connection need vulnerability, but sometimes we expose ourselves and feel rejection and shame say: don’t open up and share, they don’t care about you; you’re not good enough, etc.

Pain of Rejection

The deep pain of rejection then creates fear of risking that kind of vulnerability again.  One therapist who worked with clients with pornography issues explained how closely related this addiction is to the fear of being vulnerable as he said, “For five bucks and five minutes, you think you’re getting what you need, and you don’t have to risk rejection” (Brown, 2012)

Getting help and being open to feedback is one of the most vulnerable things we can do and therefore, immensely powerful.  Brown states that “Vulnerability is at the heart of the feedback process.”  This statement is true whether or not we are the givers or the receivers of feedback. Brown also created a list to help her know when she is ready to give feedback, I try to apply this in therapy with my clients and, even more difficult, in my close relationships.

I know I’m ready to give feedback when:

  • I’m ready to sit next to you rather than across from you.
  • I’m willing to put the problem in front of us rather than between us- or sliding it toward you!
  • I’m ready to listen, ask questions, and accept that I may not fully understand the issue.
  • I want to acknowledge what you do well instead of picking apart your mistakes.
  • I recognize your strengths and how you can use them to address your challenges.
  • I can hold you accountable without shaming or blaming you.
  • I’m willing to own my part.
  • I can genuinely thank you for your efforts rather than criticize you for your failings.
  • I can talk about how resolving these challenges will lead your growth and opportunity.
  • I can model the vulnerability and openness that I expect to see from you.

Reference: Brene Brown, 2012, Daring Greatly

by Liz Collings