“Vulnerability means…to a woman…fully opening [herself emotionally] to someone. To a man it means playing football without a helmet.”
– Frank Stewart
The quote above shows how we experience both self-inflicted pain and self-limited joy.
I’ve found that virtually every bit of “self-help” advice says that in order to grow, we need to step out and take risks.
Of course, to risk means making ourselves vulnerable.
But also to the possibility of joy.
Women make themselves vulnerable when they open their hearts to another person, hoping to experience the joy in sharing – even knowing they may be hurt in the process – but shy away from anything physical that remotely may be painful if they even try.
Men make themselves vulnerable when they try anything physical, hoping to experience the joy of accomplishment – even knowing they may be hurt in the process – but shy away from anything emotional that remotely may be painful if they even try.
Perhaps women can learn something from men, and men from women.
Perhaps women would suffer less pain in their lives if they risked sharing less of their inner selves.
And men would suffer less pain if they less risked their outer selves.
Perhaps men would discover more joy by taking emotional risks, and women would discover more joy by taking physical risks.
There’s no quarantee that if you limit your vulnerablity in the area where you have actually suffered pain that you’ll avoid pain, or that if you take a risk in the area you’ve avoided in the past because of the fear of pain, that you’ll find joy.
But you can lessen the odds of the one while increasing the chances of the other if you’re willing to try.