Relationship Hiding vs Relationship Vulnerability (Part 4 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my post. The purpose of this post is to engage in conversation about how all of us do relationships. I believe that we are created for relationships and what gives us the most meaning in our lives is the significant relationships we have with people. When we have positive, growing, and happy relationships, then our lives become more meaningful. But the opposite can also happen when we have conflict, hate, and hurt in our most important relationships. Then life can become very stressful and depressing.

About four months ago, a news announcement shocked the sports world. For those of you who follow sports, the announcement of the suicide death of Junior Seau was very shocking. He was only 43 years old. He will be considered one of the greatest linebackers of all time in the NFL and overall will be considered one of the nicest and greatest guys in sports. He had retired playing professional football a few years ago and was living in a beachfront home in San Diego. By all accounts, he was living a charmed life, had all the money he would ever need, and living in a mansion on the beach in San Diego. How else would one describe his life?


In the last post, I challenged all of us to go deeper by describing ways in which all of us can become more vulnerable in our relationships. As you know, to become vulnerable is a challenge. But the more that we can do this, I believe, the more we all will move out of the place of hiding and ‘Doing Just Fine’ to the place of ‘Trusting Others.’

The challenge is to move from human doing to human being. To hide is to be a human doer. This is where we convince ourselves and others that we are fine. To do is to please. Because when we please we are doing something to show others that we are fine and we can take care of ourselves. We assume we are pleasing others by making sure that we don’t need anything from anyone thus deceiving ourselves we can take care of ourselves. This is not healthy relating as we please to hide to prove to others and ourselves that we are ‘Doing Just Fine.’

But, the place of being human means that we are now ready to stop doing and be more vulnerable. To be human means to trust. And this means there really is not much to do. All that is required to be and trust is to open our mouth and confess, ‘I need help from you.’ To open our mouth and confess is to be humble and to say to ourselves, “I am ready to stop the madness of doing, trying so hard, fooling myself and others that I am self-sufficient. I am ready to confess that in all my efforts to please, I have become insecure, doubtful, dishonest, and exhausted.”

Therefore, to be and trust is to enter into the room of Grace. Do you believe in Grace? Have you experienced the Grace of God? Have you also experienced Grace from someone in your relationships? My hunch is this: Very few people do experience this feeling and experience of Grace. To know and feel Grace is to know that I can be vulnerable and share myself with someone knowing that I will get grace back. You see, to be in a place of trusting and receiving grace is to enter the room of imperfection, brokenness, and personal struggles. It is a place of becoming authentic and admitting hurts and then asking for help. Not to fix it, not to change it, but to just share and receive what we all need: Grace.

The results of moving towards the room and place of trusting and grace is to move away from the room of hiding and good intentions. The room of good intentions is to strive; the room of trust and grace is relaxing. To be vulnerable means to enter the process of being known that you are loved and given grace just as you are. Think about it, what if Junior Seau had just called and shared his hurts with someone and then that someone could have just come over and sat with him and just listened and cared for him? Might that have saved his life? Maybe. Might that save and help all of us who are alive and hurting? Yes!

To go down the path of trusting has the following ingredients and benefits: Love, Acceptance, Honesty, Repentance, and Forgiveness. Can you see that these five benefits cannot be earned? You see, when you are not vulnerable and hiding and doing, your motive is to earn someone’s approval by showing them you are self-sufficient. But, going down the road of trusting and receiving these five benefits, results in acceptance and not earning. You cannot earn love or acceptance. All you can do is be, which means receiving these benefits as a result of being vulnerable.

I mean, who does not need these five benefits? Can you see that you need these five benefits in your relationships? Can you see how if you did receive these five benefits, that your life would be so much different, and you could experience the love you need by learning to ask and trust for these things. Again, the focus is this: When you are hurting and when you have needs, which we all do, can you learn to be vulnerable and ask for these benefits to those places in which you are hurting and receive healing for your hurt’s? This is healthy relating being a human being and participating in trust.

Trust me; your life will become very different. To hurt is to admit you need help. If you break your leg, you go to the doctor for healing. If someone is critical of you or hurts you with their words, you go to your friend and tell them about your hurts so you can receive healing. If you can trust a doctor to heal your physical hurt, can you trust others to heal your emotional and relational hurts? You cannot fix your broken leg by yourself, and you cannot fix your emotional and relational hurts by yourself. You probably have tried for many years, but now is the time to give it up and become more honest, vulnerable, and needy by asking for help. Receive the five benefits from doing this and your life will be better. I promise.

Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.
Licensed Therapist

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this subject. Share your comments and share this article with others. Thanks.