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How To Be Vulnerable

alien-lookout-1-1309931-1279x852One of the most important things we can do to connect with other people is to be vulnerable.

This means sharing aspects of ourselves that we may be scared to share out of fear of being ridiculed or fear of causing an argument or simply just fear of how we will appear.

Being vulnerable can be extremely tough and it’s something that takes a good deal of strength.

Last Thursday I was having dinner with an old friend and topics came and went until we landed on the things that cause us anxiety, for her it was depression and for me it’s paranoia about certain things happening. I went into detail about the specific things I think about in the midst of an attack and how those very thoughts have the tendency to scare me and throw me off. To say the least it was raw and gritty and as she does, she asked me some hard questions, which I had to think about further as I was driving home and as I laid in bed that night.

The thing about it though, is that I trust her and I think trust is absolutely essential in being vulnerable and honest. The information I shared with her is information that I rarely share with anybody for fear of ridicule but I shared it with her.

It got me to thinking about vulnerability as a glue, trust is the foundation and it wouldn’t be able to stay together without vulnerability.

All that said I know how difficult it is to be open with someone and I also know how important it is. I see examples everyday of people that have a hard time sharing themselves because they don’t trust others. There are numerous families that have a hard time being vulnerable with each other and it always feel that there’s something off about those situations.

How does this relate to schizophrenia? Well in families with mental illness things can go one of two ways, they can share and commiserate and get through it together or they can deny the reality of the situation and watch things fall apart.

Vulnerability is essential in cases of mental illness to hold a family or a partnership together.

The feelings about things have to be on the table in order for a person with mental illness to be able to trust someone.

Paranoia can get in the way of a relationship so easily and in order for the stability to remain strong, the person who’s suffering has to know that they have support and trust, and the best way for that to happen is vulnerability.

How then does someone be vulnerable?

This is especially hard for people who have a tendency not to express how they feel, but the first and most important step is being honest with your family or partner or friend about what’s going in your life and how you feel about it. Honesty is vulnerability. Honesty is also the first step in forming a bond. Sometimes the other person isn’t receptive and in that case it’s best to move on but true friends and family sit with you and love you no matter what you say to them.

Just have a talk, be honest and say everything, even the stuff that scares you or could scare the other person. Just be honest, most of the time your people will be receptive.

It’s hard, I know, but a foundation of love and understanding, familial or otherwise can’t be sustained without vulnerabilities and those who aren’t able to speak their minds will feel stunted and misunderstood and that’s not good for anyone.

Suffice it to say, honesty is the best medicine, always has been always will be.

How To Be Vulnerable

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). How To Be Vulnerable. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Nov 2015
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