Overcoming My Fear of Vulnerability in Relationships

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Kim Chwalek

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I'm a 25-year old girl based in Denver, Colorado. Kim Collective is a space where I share about beauty, faith, food & home, style, travel, well-being, and everything in between. Thanks for stopping by!

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Vulnerability has been on my mind a lot lately. Many times, I’ve feared opening up, being perceived as inadequate, or being a burden to others. Revealing emotions is also difficult for me, especially when I’ve been used to dealing with challenges in solitude and keeping my innermost thoughts to myself. Does anyone else bottle up their emotions here? 🙋‍♀️

Although I’ve opened up my heart and been hurt in return, I know I have to continue to overcome my fear of vulnerability to let love and new experiences in. In my current season of life, I find myself in a group of people who are helping me gently break down the walls I’ve built around myself. Today, I want to share the biblical verses that have helped me confront this fear. Along the way, I hope to convey a simple message to you: that you, and your emotions, are not a burden to others. God is always here for you. Lean on Him when the weight becomes too much, place your trust in Him, and let others in on your struggles along the way. We’re all on this journey of life together.

 

 

Why Does Vulnerability Matter?

I truly believe that vulnerability is the gateway to authentic human connection, personal growth, and emotional healing (even though it’s incredibly difficult)! Here’s why. Vulnerability…

 

  1. Helps us create authentic connections: When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we promote authenticity. Sharing our true thoughts, feelings, and experiences creates trust and intimacy in our relationships, which leads to better communication in the long run.
  2. Increases our empathy for others: Vulnerability also helps us empathize with the struggles of others. By cherishing vulnerability in ourselves and in other people, we are reminded that we’re all human, with our fears and insecurities. This helps us judge others less frequently because we’ve attempted to walk a mile in their shoes!
  3. Helps us emotionally heal: Sharing our inner thoughts with others helps us release pent-up emotions. In the process, we gain insight into ourselves, too.
  4. Promotes our personal growth: Embracing vulnerability often involves stepping outside of our comfort zones. It challenges us to face our fears and take risks.
  5. Deepens our relationship with God: Vulnerability is a way to surrender control and trust in God. It allows us to deepen our faith and strengthen our walk as Christians.

 

 

The Emotional Toll of Suppressing Your Vulnerability

The weight of keeping up appearances and hiding our true selves is exhausting. I know from experience that by avoiding support from others, you’re only feeding your isolation and internal turmoil. Over time, if you don’t confide in anyone about your feelings, you may experience anxiety, depression, and a sense of disconnection. I’m here to remind you that overcoming your fear of vulnerability in relationships is true bravery.

 

What the Bible Says About Vulnerability

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (ESV)

There’s strength in weakness.

This verse reminds us that our vulnerability can be a source of strength when we surrender to God. He assures us that it’s okay to be imperfect, for in our imperfections, we can discover the grace and power of Him.

James 5:16

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (ESV)

There’s healing power in sharing.

By confiding in others, sharing our struggles, and seeking support, we can help you move past difficult emotions. We all know the power of community, but do we truly trust it? Opening up is key to overcoming your fears.

Galatians 6:2

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (ESV)

We’re called to bear each other’s burdens.

Being Christian is being called to support and help one another. By allowing others to share our burdens and share theirs in return, we follow Christ’s teachings, fostering understanding and compassion in our relationships.

 

 

5 Practical Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Vulnerability

In a world that often values stoicism and self-sufficiency, it’s easy to fear vulnerability. However, the Bible teaches us that our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses. Instead, they’re opportunities for growth and connection. When I’ve opened my heart to others and trusted in God, I’ve been able to tap into my strength in my most fragile moments. In this section, I’d like to provide some practical steps to overcome your fear of vulnerability. These tips include cultivating self-awareness, building trust in relationships, and taking small steps toward sharing your emotions and experiences. Gradually, with time and effort, these tips have helped me dismantle some of the walls I’ve built around my heart.

 

1. Cultivate self-awareness

Start by recognizing and understanding your fears. They’re there for a reason. I recommend taking the time to journal your feelings if you’re hesitant to open up to others. After you identify the situations or triggers that make you feel most vulnerable in relationships, try talking about them with a trusted friend or loved one. After you self-disclose, you may realize you’ve made incorrect assumptions about yourself, your loved one’s feelings, or even their capacity to help you! Oftentimes, our fears lead us to be off-base in our judgments of ourselves and others.

 

2. Talk to God

Talk openly and honestly with God. Since He already knows your deepest fears and vulnerabilities, inviting Him into your innermost thoughts can be a profoundly healing experience. In prayer, release your fears, worries, and anxieties. Share with God the specific aspects of vulnerability that trouble you. Allow your prayers to be a safe space to be completely authentic. Then, after praying, take time to reflect and listen. Often, God’s guidance and comfort come in moments of quiet contemplation.

 

3. Build trust in relationships

Work on nurturing true, life-giving relationships. A practical way to do this is by setting aside dedicated quality time with your loved ones. You can also form new relationships by sharing your thoughts and feelings incrementally, so you can gradually build trust. Start with small, manageable “disclosures,” like sharing a personal experience or a minor concern. Gradually, you can work your way up to your bigger fears. As you become more comfortable with sharing your emotions and experiences, you’ll build more and more trust with others.

 

4. Find biblical fellowship

It’s important to practice vulnerability in safe environments. I’d consider joining a Bible Study Group where other Christians can help understand, validate, and encourage you on your journey. Of course, you can be discerning about who you specifically share with, but by surrounding yourself with Christians who respect your emotions, you will be able to break down more of the walls you’ve built around your heart. Long story short: lean on your faith, share with others, and let others walk with you!

 

5. Practice self-compassion

Be kind to yourself. Vulnerability isn’t about perfection; it’s about authenticity. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your efforts and being gentle with yourself when you encounter setbacks. It’s normal to feel discomfort when you start disclosing more about yourself. Fear of vulnerability in relationships is common, but we can’t normalize holding everything inside. It’s not sustainable.

 

What is Your Experience With Vulnerability?

Do you have a fear of vulnerability in relationships? I’d love to hear your own experience in the comments section. Also, let me know if I can pray for you in any way. I’ve been here before (many times!), so I know what it’s like to need an extra hand. If you’ve enjoyed this article, feel free to check out my other faith-based articles here.

Love, Kim

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