Vulnerability, A Weakness or a Strength?

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Thursday, July 16, 2015
By Courtney Pastner, RMFTI

Many of us have heard of the word vulnerability but what does it really mean? I have heard from many clients that they thought being vulnerable meant being weak. I challenge that belief right away. Being vulnerable is a great strength and takes lots of courage. It doesn’t mean we are belittling ourselves or ‘being weak’ it means we are being authentic and real and taking a risk in order to understand our own process and to connect on a deeper level with others. I point out that when my clients are the most vulnerable, the most gains are made in therapy. The therapist office is safe for sure but through work, guidance and insight, my clients can see the same rewards in everyday life, life away from therapy.

The amazing, Brene Brown (if you haven’t listened to her TED Talk on shame and vulnerability, you must!) defines vulnerability as the following:

“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow — that’s vulnerability.”

That’s powerful. And as human beings we are not perfect, we all have our ‘stuff.’ It’s that ‘stuff’ that makes us human and how we relate and connect to each other. I can’t tell you how many times that my clients who feel “crazy” and alone in their struggles find that when they start being vulnerable and letting others into their world they realize others have similar struggles. Not only do they not feel “crazy” anymore (because they are not crazy) but also their anxieties and depression subside and their connection and confidence increases. It’s not magic; it’s a process that takes patience, guidance (usually with a therapist), openness and willingness. Deeper connections and living a life of authenticity are well worth the risks that go along with being vulnerable.

Courtney Pastner is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist intern at Coral Gables Counseling Center. Courtney specializes in helping children, adolescents and adults overcome the deeper struggles that create challenges and obstacles in their lives such as anxiety, lack of confidence, relationship issues, perfectionism and fear of failure, to name a few. Courtney helps her clients develop a new set of tools, knowledge, and understanding to be able to cope with adversity and have a healthy and happy life. To set up an appointment, Courtney can be reached at 305-445-0477. Feel free to email her at