What Makes Vulnerability so Challenging, and so Worth It?

Published on May 7, 2020 by First Responder Wellness

As simple as it may sound, simply telling the truth can be much more difficult than it seems. Sincere vulnerability is a pursuit that will challenge even the most adamant practitioner of mindful living.

The sort of compulsive honesty demanded by vulnerability requires examining personal intention, past injuries, and thoughts so ingrained into us that we may be shocked to find out these thoughts existed within us in the first place. 


Telling the truth to loved ones, strangers, and yourself requires immense empathy and willpower. It is also immensely worth it.


What Are the Benefits of Living With Vulnerability?

Even as the endgame of being one hundred percent vulnerable might never be fully realized, the ambition to connect with deep-seated emotions will lead to growth along the way throughout recovery. Many addicted individuals initially turn to substances as a result of some form of internalized alienation: social, emotional, pathological, existential, etc. 


Rather than ignoring this feeling of intense isolation, being vulnerable allows us to examine the journey inwards and look at our faults, feelings, and fragmented logic. It is not a withdrawal into the self so much as a sort of DVD commentary allowing the “actor,” here meaning the addicted individual, to examine their patterns of behavior in real-time.


From here, we can begin making meaningful connections to others. Identifying with the feelings others can help fill the desire to escape by going outside of our own limited and possibly painful perspective, and at the same time develop empathy and compassion.

Through truly examining ourselves and our personal revelations, we can extend our vulnerability and make a difference to others. In this way, vulnerability is both selfish and selfless.


Where Is a Good Place to Start?

Oftentimes the challenge of genuine vulnerability comes from pride. Whether it’s self-imposed or unprompted, it is essential to enter a state of utter humility if one is to attempt sincere self-awareness.

It is very likely that you believe to know yourself, your habits, your desires, likes, and dislikes. In this self-knowing, it is highly probable to be either entirely or partially vulnerable. However, being fully and completely vulnerable is a wholly different undertaking. 


Vulnerability does not look cool, or wise even. It isn’t a silently sage-like state of peace. The word itself suggests exposure to the risk of injury.

The first step to leading a vulnerable lifestyle challenges one to accept the hurt they have previously endured, coupled with shouldering the responsibility of pain they have dished to others. All of this builds up within one’s now-vulnerable and open conscience, while also acknowledging the amount of time spent lugging around and ignoring their own emotional baggage. 


The potential to feel overwhelmed by the suddenness of one’s ability to empathize can feel overwhelming, which is why humility goes such a long way. Vulnerability, again, is something to strive towards, and any progress is considerable progress.

The benefits of this work may not be immediate, and even after years of striving to just feel more, many come away only with the realization of how much they still have left to learn.


How Do I Know If I Am Making Progress?

Unfortunately, the healing process differs from person to person. If it was the same for everyone, humans would be much better at giving and receiving advice.

Your growth as a vulnerable and emotionally available person can influence addiction just as it can assist in recovery, yet it can be much more difficult to measure the extent to which any one of us acts with personal truth or sincerity.

This can make it difficult to determine how much progress is being made, but just know that any progress is progress!


A healthy way to frame vulnerable living is to “let it off the leash” from any sort of cause-effect correlation. Vulnerability is not a guarantee of any single outcome.

People who live vulnerably might not be successful, beloved, or even necessarily happy. However, if you are vulnerable, then you are living vulnerably, period.

Living this way for the reason of reaching some idealized state contradicts the goal of staying true to yourself. The vulnerable mindset includes empowerment, where the worries and doubts of “living up to an expectation” exist as an internal conversation set aside from time and place.

With becoming vulnerable comes the acceptance that what occurs is true and generally okay.


The progress of a vulnerable life cannot be measured, only felt.


SMART Recovery at First Responder Wellness offers an alternative opportunity to approach recovery from the purview of managing motivation, coping with urges, positively framing thoughts/behaviors/feelings, and living a balanced life. SMART Recovery is an evidence-based program that seeks to help any individual who is suffering from a drug, alcohol, or any other destructive problem.

SMART Recovery is a self-help program that focuses on evidence-based recovery techniques. SMART Recovery is not a 12-Step fellowship and chooses to empower the individual rather than labeling them as powerless.

Recovery focuses on acknowledging the amount of control an individual wields and assists with directing that control toward fulfillment. If you or a loved one is ready to take the first crucial step, please call our admissions staff 24/7 at 888-743-0490.