"I understand now that the vulnerability I've always felt is the greatest strength a person can have. You can't experience life without feeling life. What I've learned is that being vulnerable to somebody you love is not a weakness, its strength."
- Elisabeth Shue
The life of the heart is one of contradictions. It is where our greatest strengths are often our most profound weaknesses. Finding balance between seemingly opposing forces or feelings is key to finding balance in love. I can't think of any two more complementary forces for love than the capacity for vulnerability and the experience of confidence.
Consider each one on its own: The confident but invulnerable heart can be brash, ego driven and unavailable. The confidence does not serve because it is not tempered. The vulnerable insecure heart is pitiful, full of self doubt and starts to resemble childlike dependence. It is easy to see how the vulnerability of childhood is easily confused with its more mature adult version.
To really love life, yourself or others these traits must work together. Ancient eastern scripture has long valued the cultivation of the heart broken wide open. The teachings say that it is raw, confident vulnerability that allows you to deeply feel with true compassion and leads you to the road to enlightenment. Confident vulnerability allows you to keep showing up for yourself and others even when your heart gets a bit trampled. You have the courage to actually feel what happens to you. In turn, experiencing your feelings as they happen builds courage.
Vulnerable confidence lets people say what they need to say and trust the listener to be kind. Balancing these forces in your heart everyday has the added benefit of ensuring that real lines of communication are always available. Combining the courage to self-disclose with the confidence to be yourself feeds a relationship's integrity because everyone knows where they stand. The more confident vulnerability shapes your communication, the more that trust thrives.
Confident vulnerability doesn't turn minor disappointments into big storylines about the places where the relationship falls short. You can keep your vulnerability intact if you have a little confidence. Relationships, by definition will always disappoint you at some time, and heartbreak goes with the territory, which is sadly the state of things when it comes to the human race. Accepting the frailties and imperfection of ourselves and the people we live with and moving into relationships instead of away from them is the reason to cultivate a vulnerable confident heart.
Perhaps the most rewarding gift of cultivating a vulnerable confident heart is that these are the odd bedfellows that create deep and lasting passion. Closing the bedroom door with the capacity to fully open to the moment and your partner without fear of judgment and the freedom to find out what it means to be sexual is the treasure of sex most people search for in a lifetime. Vulnerability and confidence don't preclude one another, they require each other. The mystery of sexual connection unravels and becomes a dance of union and spiritual rediscovery.
Confident vulnerability is the mature path to making a life with love as its central axis. It is the only path that has real heart.
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