Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Does fear of vulnerability make us more vulnerable?

A student expressed concern that if he told people how their behavior affected him, they'd have the power to affect him negatively. The other students responded that few people in his environment were out to get him, and I think that's probably true. Yet, I'm not sure if that was comforting enough for him to risk sharing his concerns with others -- how would he know who to trust with his feelings?

Trust is the willingness to be vulnerable to another person because we expect their intentions and actions toward us to be positive, or at the least, not negative.

So, would it be a bad idea to let someone you don't fully trust know their words or actions cause you hurt or frustration, or in any way limit your ability to do your best work? Yet if we don't trust the other person, and we don't say anything about the negative impact their words/actions have on us, aren't we more likely to be more hurt in the future when they continue that behavior?

And in the end, if they decide not to change their behavior then we know beyond a doubt that we have to change our response to their behavior. After all, we have control over our own emotions; no one can make us feel something. So, perhaps it's better to get it on the table where we can no longer ignore it and hope it will change?

What do you think? Have you ever had someone hurt you more than they had in the past after and because you let them know their behavior resulted in a negative experience for you?


  1. As you stated, we have control over our own emotions and how much we let a person’s negativity affect us. By not letting them know, you are not giving them the opportunity to modify their interactions with you. I think you should give people some benefit of the doubt. Once I’ve told people how their actions were affecting me, I’ve never had their behavior become more negative. However, I do always feel some anxiety and nervousness, because it is opening you up to possibly being more hurt.

  2. Yes, they may not change their behavior (because they can't or don't want to) but I've never seen it worsen as a result of being told of its impact.

    Thanks for this great input, Beth!