Mimi Huelster

Vulnerability is a double edged sword. But does it bring more pain or happiness?

[2 SIDES 1 ISSUE] Does vulnerability bring more pain or happiness?

May 24, 2021

Vulnerability brings more pain

Being vulnerable is something many people avoid doing out of fear of being judged or hurt. Although some psychologists say vulnerability can be beneficial to human relationships, it can be negative too.

Many things make it difficult for people to be vulnerable, such as the fear of not belonging. The sense of belonging is a fundamental aspect of human nature, and crucial to both physical and mental health, but for many, being vulnerable entails a feeling that they might lose people by opening up. This side effect makes it feel like vulnerability is not a risk worth taking. If one already feels like they don’t fit in, being vulnerable will only increase their fear of not being accepted. Losing a sense of belonging has several negative implications, including depression and anxiety.

Previous experiences and traumas can also play a huge role in why vulnerability may bring more pain than happiness to certain people. Many have had previous experiences of vulnerability ultimately resulting in negative outcomes, which makes it far more difficult to try again. It is vital to not forget that many people have suffered from trauma, so one must not assume being vulnerable can be easily done. Often, one forgets what those around oneself are going through, because most humans are so attuned to finding personal comfort, they forget about others’ suffering, but one must continue to recognize the pain of others and not expect everyone to be capable of vulnerability.

The uncertainty of others’ reactions can cause vulnerability to bring more pain than happiness.”

Additionally, self-awareness and vulnerability are closely tied. So, a lack of self-awareness can make emotional vulnerability difficult to achieve. Self-awareness comes with age, so it’s not surprising many teens have not yet become self-aware. If one is not yet capable of being self-aware, they do not know their authentic self, and accordingly, the person that they want to expose to others through being emotionally vulnerable. Real vulnerability requires understanding oneself, which only comes with age.

The uncertainty of others’ reactions can cause vulnerability to bring more pain than happiness. The shared need for control, comfort and certainty among humans makes it difficult to be vulnerable, because one simply will never know how others will react to their authentic self. When a person is vulnerable, they are not capable of controlling the reaction of those around them. This is cause for defaulting to the worst possible outcomes: being rejected, judged, or laughed at. This is why it’s easier to shield your vulnerability to protect yourself.

Lack of self-awareness, fear, uncertainty, and trauma are all reasons that being emotionally vulnerable can be difficult, creating more pain than happiness. Without being able to understand what makes being emotionally vulnerable difficult, vulnerability will bring more pain than happiness to any person.

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Vulnerability brings us happiness

Emotions give people the capability to become closer with others and discover similarities with each other. It brings people together through mutual experiences and builds trust with others, furthering a relationship.. It takes the fundamental need for humans to be part of a group and magnifies it by providing a reward system. Relating to a situation or feeling with another person triggers a reward system in the brain that encourages the person to attempt the action again. Being vulnerable with a person is freeing and can provide a release in pretenses within a relationship. Vulnerability looks different for each person. It can be acting openly with a person, or sharing parts of themselves that are specific towards them. It can be standing up for themselves, their beliefs. However, vulnerability is shown, earning the respect of others, because the other person will recognize the moments of vulnerability and their significance. The emotion helps by providing insight on other emotions. It is a gateway to other emotions like happiness, joy, sadness and anger.

Vulnerability allows us to identify and feel the emotions instead of brushing over them or disregarding them.”

Nevertheless, vulnerability allows us to identify and feel the emotions instead of brushing over them or disregarding them. Distinguishing between emotions is difficult, but the most challenging thing is the moment after experiencing vulnerability is when there is sudden silence in which anything can happen. Whether the moment will bring pain or happiness but either possibility is a good learning experience. And eventually experience is gained from that moment bringing happiness in the long run. Each vulnerable moment brings us closer together as a people, because we find things we can relate to or we figure out the reasons behind the actions. The worst decision made is not to be vulnerable. There would be a lot left unsaid, leaving a lot left unnoticed without those moments of vulnerability. It cannot be overlooked since it expands people’s view of others, reminds people of the life we all lead, and our core values are seen through our most vulnerable moments.

Being vulnerable allows us to grow, mature, and move on, and with enough repetition, the moments of vulnerability will not seem scary. This allows emotion to take a central role in others lives and will bring happiness and bring us together as a community.

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