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Transparent? Vulnerable? Or Both.

I've been sitting on this one for a minute.

This came about from a conversation I was having with a friend. I wrote something about his new book and said it was reflective of vulnerability. He didn't agree (which is typical for him lol). He said he was being transparent. He wasn't in any danger, therefore he wasn't being vulnerable. He expressed that people use the word incorrectly.

I respected his feelings because they are his experience. Still, I wondered. "Are people misusing the phrase, "being vulnerable"" Of course I looked up the word vulnerable to get some clarity.

Vulnerable means that you are susceptible to harm. This harm can be physical or emotional. I would wager that this will soon expand to include mental and spiritual as well.

So... With the above definition in mind, how do you discern when you are being vulnerable and when you are being transparent?

You ask the question... "Will this put you in a position to experience harm or be attacked in some capacity?" If the answer is yes, you are being vulnerable.

What does it mean to be transparent? Transparent means to be easy to perceive or detect. It also means having thoughts, feelings, or motives that are easy to detect.

In that regard, it's intention that sets the transparency. When someone listens to you tell a story, is your intention (motive) for sharing the story easy to detect? If yes, then not only are you being vulnerable in providing this information, you are also being transparent.

If your motives and whatnot are not clear, then you aren't being transparent.

In my opinion, someone being truly vulnerable is also transparent. If you are speaking your naked truth to share your experience, you're not only inviting criticism, you are calling in community. You are empowering the next person to also take that step. You are encouraging someone that may feel like there isn't something on the other side of this experience. You are inspiring someone to think a little differently.

If I tell you about my relationship with, God. It may not be like yours. It's a very personal expression. However, by doing so I open myself up to criticism and attack. I'm putting myself in a position where not only positivity can come my way but also negativity. Now, if you feel you are completely immune to this, then you may not be vulnerable.

However, for some of us it takes effort and internal dialogue to allow ourselves to be open in this way. This sensitivity to our experience and how others receive it, that makes us vulnerable.

I would encourage you to consider where you are as you are sharing, whatever you share. Are you being transparent? Do people know who you are with clarity? And if you are being vulnerable as well, allow yourself the space to stand in it bravely. There is a power to acknowledging that you may be in a space of physical, mental or emotional harm and still doing it anyway. Thank you for your vulnerability.

Share your experiences below. How do you create space for others to be vulnerable and transparent? How do you allow this for yourself?

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