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The Blog

​​​​​​​Lessons from Infancy: Vulnerability

Emily Porta

I wrote a blog discussing vulnerability and connection related to a TED video I had  watched. You can read that here. This blog was rather popular but I think Brown's research is as well. This tells me that it is something we desire, to be vulnerable. I do believe this comes from our innate need for vulnerability in order to survive. If we aren't vulnerable as infants and do not communicate our needs, then chances are higher for neglect. However, what do we need to be vulnerable? Trust and safety. We don't open up ourselves if we feel that we may be attacked. 

Vulnerability has to do with attachment. Research shows that if a mother perceives her infants vulnerability, then she is more likely to respond and build a better attachment with her infant. When a mother is disconnected from the needs of her infant, then the attachment is harder to form. I find that the people who have the easiest time being vulnerable, have the healthiest attachments, meaning that if they are in safe loving relationships, they are more quick to be vulnerable then those in abusive, poor boundary relationships. 

So what does this all mean to you? You were  born with a need to be seen, loved and cared for. You were born vulnerable. There is an innate need to have people in our lives that love us and intuit what our needs are. As adults, we lose sight of this often. We end up having to parent ourselves or look to our partner to be the mother or father we never had. But, that isn't vulnerability. Vulnerability is being honest with what you need and finding people in your life that are safe and healthy and can meet that need. As an infant, you knew this well. When the needs aren't met in infancy, we find that as adults, they don't get met either. We keep turning to people that aren't good for us and end up disappointed and frustrated. 

There is no greater joy, I would suspect then being vulnerable and it creating more intimacy. Think of how that baby feels when it is hungry and the mother provides milk. The baby relaxes, comforted, and without worry. That is what therapy can be like for some. When we can't find anywhere else to be vulnerable, the therapists' office is the safe harbor to be heard and cared for. Because from vulnerability we do created connection and intimacy.