A Short, Working List of What Makes Us Vulnerable

  • Change
  • Not knowing where something will end up going or leading to
  • Surprises
  • Letting yourself feel excitement about something or someone
  • Hope or expectation 
  • Sharing that excitement, hope or expectation, in some form with others
  • Enthusiasm (expressed externally or internally felt) for something or someone
  • Having passion for anything or anyone
  • Suffering and pain
  • Caring about the outcome, results, effects of anything
  • Loving anything or anyone
  • Trusting
  • Risks
  • Asking for help
  • Saying "I need..."
  • Giving something you've made to someone else as a gift
  • Truly receiving a gift, and letting it be a true gift for you
  • Saying “I don’t know”
  • The experience and reality of not knowing
  • Communication, in all forms and media
  • Entering into a conversation
  • A blank canvas or a blank page or a blank screen
  • Investing yourself into a relationship, a project, a work, a dream, an idea
  • Engaging in open discussion or dialogue 
  • Feeling out of control…anything that takes away our sense of “control” or “power”
  • Going into something without “a plan” or an “agenda”
  • Admitting that we made a mistake
  • Not having an escape route ready (see: coping skills, coping mechanisms, defenses) 
  • Recognizing a “chink in one’s armor” in yourself
  • Someone else recognizing a chink in your armor and pointing it out in any way
  • Not knowing precisely what they will do with it
  • Asking for something from another person
  • Talking face to face, with eye contact, to another human being
  • Walking out your front door
  • Sharing directly with another how you feel about someone
  • Sharing and bringing to the outside what is in your inside, in any form or medium
  • Staying inside your house
  • Being alive

What, my friends, would you add to this list? 

There are many, many ways to avoid feeling what we're feeling. What are the ways in which you exchange the reality of vulnerability with the masked disguise of safe, controlled transparency, or merely 'sharing vulnerable things in an non-vulnerable way'? How can you tell when you're inhabiting the veneer of false-vulnerability or inhabiting the true thing? To you, what does it mean to be alive?


“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable.” - Madeleine L’Engle


“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” - C.S. Lewis


"Did you ever imagine that what we call “vulnerability” might just be the key to ongoing growth? In my experience, healthily vulnerable people use every occasion to expand, change, and grow. Yet it is a risky position to live undefended, in a kind of constant openness to the other—because it means others could sometimes actually wound us. Indeed, vulnera comes from the Latin for “to wound.” But only if we take this risk do we also allow the opposite possibility: the other might also gift us, free us, and even love us." They go on to write, "This, then, seems to be the work of the Spirit: to keep you vulnerable to life and love itself and to resist all that destroys the Life Flow.” -Brene Brown quoting from Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell’s new book The Divine Dance)