True Vulnerability Depends on Knowing Your Worth (and…Why Vulnerability is Essential to Love)

by Janet Ong Zimmerman on 04/24/2012

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Why is self worth necessary in order to be vulnerable?

When we seek validation from others, we give away our power by letting them define our worth. If your worth depends on your partner’s validation, you won’t say what’s really on your mind and how you feel. You’ll censor your words and emotions in order to get your partner’s love, approval and acceptance.

The less validation you seek from others, the more you can define and know your own worth based on “I am enough”. We tend to base our worth just on the good parts of us. But, knowing your true worth takes courage because it requires examining, confronting and embracing your dark side (e.g. self-perceived bad aspects about yourself, limiting thoughts and beliefs, irrational fears, shame, perfection, things you try to hide from others, etc.).

When you don’t accept and love all of who you are – the good and self perceived bad – you’ll feel disconnected to your partner. What’s happening is that you’re actually projecting the separation you feel with yourself onto your partner. This keeps you from a deep, meaningful connection.

When you accept and love yourself, you’ll express yourself freely without fear of what your partner thinks of you. You’ll be able to be vulnerable by letting your guard down and being open to what is and what might happen.

Why is vulnerability essential to love?

Vulnerability is essential to love because the more you can let someone in, the more they can get to know the real you. When you’re both relating and connecting based on who you both are, there are two of you in the relationship, communicating cleanly, feeling heard and understanding each other.

However, when both parties are seeking validation from each other, there are at least four of you in the relationship. Each person will communicate as himself/herself, then other times communicate to get validation. Instead of connecting with each other, you’ll be connecting with the illusions that you have of each other. They’ll be mixed communication, not feeling heard and many misunderstandings.

Vulnerability is the place for relating, intimacy and freedom to be your authentic self. It’s the place where your partner gets the privilege of experiencing the real you (and vice-versa). When you’re vulnerable, you also provide a safe space for your partner to be him and express himself openly.

What does authentic vulnerability look like?

The ability to be authentically vulnerable only comes after knowing your true worth. Being vulnerable when we don’t know our true worth is accidental or manipulative. Accidental when a situation forces us out of our comfort zone (i.e. when we think we may lose someone we love) or manipulative when we behave a certain way in order to get a certain response or outcome. Here are some examples of what authentic vulnerability looks like.

  • Expressing yourself freely without fear of what he’ll think, say or do.
  • Communicating from your heart and in the moment (without over-thinking it).
  • Giving and receiving joyfully without expectations.
  • Being open to what your partner wants and needs to say to you.
  • Asking for and accepting help without feeling like you owe him something.
  • Saying “I love you” without needing to hear those same words repeated back
  • Saying “I love you” when you’re feeling it. Not waiting for him to say those three words first before you say it.

If you’d like to be more vulnerable in your relationship, first know your worth. For helpful practices on knowing your worth, read Vulnerability Leads to a Deeper Love Connection.

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