Why vulnerability is a sign of strength

True vulnerability is absolutely terrifying, let’s not sugarcoat this. There is a reason it takes a long time to go from thinking about counselling to actually taking the plunge, and that is largely down to the fear of what's going to happen if you let all your barriers down.

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Will I be able to pick myself up again? Will I be able to stay in this toxic relationship? Will I still be loved if I share the parts of me I am so ashamed of? Yes, vulnerability is scary but therapy means sharing our darkest secrets with someone whose job is to listen to people’s darkest secrets.

Your therapist is trained to help you understand why you have been hiding this stuff, and it can be life-changing.

For me, the most life-changing part was when I shared my shame with my counsellor and she didn’t react in the way I expected. She didn’t stop caring about me and she helped me realise things sounded so much worse in my head. She gave me the strength to finally feel able to talk about the hard bits with my loved ones and feel proud of not hiding my feelings.

I was finally able to deal with my emotions as they hit me or in a timely manner, rather than letting them build up and feeling like a volcano that blew up for unnecessary stuff and then felt judged and misunderstood for my behaviour rather than supported when I really needed to feel loved.

We have all been there; we've all lost our temper over a cup left out or an overflowing bin bag because we weren’t equipped to have a real conversation. We have all felt unappreciated, taken advantage of, and like no one cares about us. And often, those feelings are linked to ways we learned to cope in our childhood, which we have never addressed.

If your parents couldn’t regulate and had high reactivity in minor situations, you may have learned that others don’t have the headspace to deal with your problems. If no one ever apologised to you as a child when they did something wrong, you may have learned your emotions were difficult and you needed to hide them to be loved. There are so many areas of our early attachments that can lead to us feeling like we are loved more when we hide our feelings, so it’s no wonder we as a society are scared of being vulnerable.


Male vulnerability

I often work with partners of angry men who don’t know how to cope with their emotional dysregulation. These aren’t violent men; these are men who have been taught being vulnerable is bad so they don’t react when really bad things happen.

Maybe they go through a loss and show very little emotion, but they become a volcano ready to erupt at any time. Being vulnerable and talking about what is really hurting them is weak but a spilt drink or something missing they wanted in the shopping causes a complete meltdown because they are already at boiling point and it just takes the slightest inconvenience to push them over.

I’m working with their partner because they won’t go to therapy but she is feeling completely overwhelmed because, on top of managing her own troubles, she is now walking on eggs shells trying to prevent the eruption. And again and again, when we discuss therapy for the partner, they won’t go because "They don’t need to talk. It won’t help."

But I promise that talking can help, and I love working with men for that reason. When a man enters the therapy room, they have often been hiding how they feel for their whole life and just having 50 minutes to talk with someone who doesn’t judge can feel like an elephant being lifted off their shoulders.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Brighton, BN42
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Written by Natasha Nyeke, MBACP, Couples, Fertility, Maternal mental health,Attachment
Brighton, BN42

Natasha Nyeke is a Person Centred Counsellor who specialises in working with anxiety, early attachments and parents.

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