Finding Love…Daring To Be Vulnerable

complete solar eclipse

complete solar eclipse

After finishing my last blog entitled “The Importance Of Feeling Seen”, I realized something really important. It is easy and perhaps obvious to recognize that “feeling really seen” by others brings us a great deal of joy and satisfaction…. but rarely do we actually allow ourselves this experience. Even in close friendships and romantic relationships we struggle with this issue. In so many situations we hide important aspects of ourselves, as we assume, usually without a shred of evidence, that parts of us are unacceptable to others. Clearly we can only have the experience of being seen if we really put ourselves out there to be seen. What a shame our “hiding “ is, when you think about it, especially if we consider that everyone else is doing exactly the same thing. We relate to each to each other all the time while revealing only a small fraction of who we are. Our true selves are actually “eclipsed” in a way by our own inner “sensor”. Why is this? What can we do about it?


The simple answer as to why most of us “hide” so much of the time has to do with the concept of vulnerability. According to the Merrion Webster dictionary, vulnerability means: 1. “Capable of being physically or emotionally wounded” 2. Open to attack or damage.”

This definition is apt in terms of emotional vulnerability, I think. Who amongst us has not been emotionally wounded by people we have allowed ourselves to trust? We are naturally afraid, and so we protect ourselves against “re wounding” by keeping our tender and vulnerable parts well hidden from others…and even hidden from ourselves sometimes. We actually construct a kind of emotional “armor” around these vulnerable places in our attempt to stay “safe”. Unfortunately this “armor” can also keep us isolated and unavailable to others

The Problem With Emotional Armor

Emotional armor is actually really important to human psychological makeup. It is the truth, after all, that not everyone can be trusted to have our best interests at heart. When we first meet someone, especially, we probably want to stay somewhat guarded. The problem occurs when our tendency to be ever “vigilant” to possible danger becomes “over determined” so that we are closed up and emotionally unavailable all of the time. What can be done in this instance?

Taking A Risk

The only way to break through our own resistance to “opening up”, the way I see it, is to just take the risk…”just do it”… even if only in a small way. This can be a “test” of your unconscious, or maybe conscious, hypothesis that “letting people” take a peek inside is a dangerous thing. See what happens when you do it. You may be quite surprised. You may assume you are going to be hurt by others, only to find that quite the opposite occurs.

Admission Of Vulnerability Is a Sign Of Personal Strength, Not Weakness

My hypothesis is that admitting vulnerability is actually a sign of strength and not a sign of weakness. I think there is a cultural “myth out there that tells us not to admit to
vulnerability lest we be considered “weak”. Who are we kidding? The human condition is one of constant vulnerability in all realms of our lives. Living in denial of this reality only makes us susceptible to it, I think, because we are shocked beyond belief when the inevitable disasters of our lives actually occur. This doesn’t mean I think we should live in a constant state of fear of all potential dangers…far from it. I think it’s more about acceptance that things will happen over which we have no control so why not just give up the struggle? We just have to live with this reality, without letting it paralyze us. I think admitting vulnerability in personal relationships is exactly the same as admitting it in all parts of our lives. Yes, we are human. Yes, we have been hurt and we have hurt others. It has happened before and will probably happen again. And yet, we still long to be connected. We still need it. We need to take the risk.

Admission Of Vulnerability As a Prerequisite To Intimacy

The trick of becoming truly intimate with another person lies, I believe in the “give and take” of sharing your personal stories. As one person begins to reveal the vulnerabilities inherent in his/her stories the other feels the permission and the safety to do exactly the same thing. Next thing you know, you are both fully engaged in sharing the real experience of being human and finding the mutual empathy of that shared human experience. In my previous blog I refer to this experience as feeling “mirrored”. There is nothing like it…and no other way to have the shared empathy you need for true intimacy. If this is not the right person for the sharing…don’t worry…you will figure it out soon enough. Just pay attention. Open your heart to the “heart click” that is the sign of true intimacy. You will know it when you feel it.

It feels a little like…dare I say it?  falling in love.





Finding Love….The Importance Of Feeling “Seen”

Baby In Mirror

Baby In Mirror


I have not posted in awhile, but have not lost sight of my intention to explore the mystery of how to find love in our lives. I’m offering a way that we can each create an individualized roadmap in order to embark on this life altering journey. I will be breaking down the journey in a series of blogs. This one is about looking carefully at where we are right now in terms of feeling we are “fully seen” by important people in our lives…including ourselves. I believe this is the first step toward the ultimate goal of wholeheartedly giving and receiving love.

       My long hiatus from writing blogs has come about because of two recent experiences in my life. In the “living” of these experiences I have learned something that I only knew intellectually before. My “embodied” learning is the following: I don’t believe that any of us humans can fully give and receive love unless we have had the experience of being fully seen, heard, and understood by meaningful people in our lives. . My first experience was attending the “Burning Man” festival in the Black Rock desert of Nevada. The second experience was attending a 2-day couples therapy workshop where I learned something of the principles and practice of Imago couples therapy.

Burning Man

The Burning Man experience is difficult to explain in a few sentences, but for the purposes of this blog, the feature I want to concentrate on is a Burning Man main principle. It is the principle of “Radical Inclusion”…. which basically means you are encouraged to show up at the event in whatever way best expresses your true and most authentic self. Of course, in such an environment people are going to dress, or not dress, in very extreme ways…but this is exactly the point. What I found at Burning Man was that I got to “play” with as many versions of myself as I wanted…and everything was accepted and celebrated. This might sound like a really fun costume party…but actually it was a whole lot more. Much more important was the “heady” feeling I got that people really saw and appreciated me. I felt like I was about 3 years old on the jungle gym…saying, “Look at me!!!” At the same time, of course, I was looking at everyone else and appreciating the way they were presenting themselves. The best way to sum up the experience is that a true feeling of love and acceptance permeated through my body and soul at Burning Man. It was a feeling of love for everything and everybody, and I promise you that no drugs were involved. Wonder why “Burners” go back to Burning Man year after year? This is a big part of why. We don’t get this experience in life on a daily basis. More’s the pity. I think we really need it.

Imago Couples Therapy

It was excellent timing for me to attend the Imago Couples therapy workshop right after Burning Man. In this training I learned the importance of “mirroring” for the quality of  couples communication …that is the importance of being able to feed back to a person that you have really heard and understood them. This is not unlike the experience of mother and baby. When a young baby is held in his/her caregiver’s arms, the caregiver ideally “mirrors” back to the infant that this infant is seen, heard, and loved. The “mirroring” is done through the “baby talk” of the adult who is responding minute to minute to the baby’s vocalizations…maybe even imitating them. This is the basis of attachment. This is the basis of love. More fundamentally, the “mirroring” experience in early infancy is what gives the baby the experience of actually existing. (kind of a I am mirrored, therefore I am)  When an infant experiences the facial expressions and “attunement” of a caregiver, this infant feels love. And the love feeds back to the caregiver who loves back in equal measure

The Couple Is Just Like Mother/Father and baby

Attachment in a couple is actually exactly like mother/father and baby attachment. Through the repetitive “mirroring” exercises of imago therapy, each member of the couple practices hearing and repeating back exactly what they heard from the other half of the couple. The result is pretty amazing, as each member of the couple understands, maybe for the very first time, what it is like to stand in the shoes of his partner without judgment and assumption. Love can begin to flow freely again  from a place of truly understanding who that person before you actually is.

What These Experiences Can Teach About The Importance Of Feeling Seen

After the experience of Burning Man and now having tried leading couples through mirroring exercises, I’m convinced that we must each find ways to bring the people and experiences into our life who allow us to  feel fully seen, understood, and appreciated. These days I’m not willing to spend much time with people when this is not the case…Life is too short and I know for a fact that love can only emerge, thrive, and grow when enough of your environment “mirrors” back to you your full, flawed, and ultimately imperfect self.