According to the Clinical Social Worker and American Researcher Dr. Casandra Brene Brown,

What we know matters BUT WHO WE ARE matters more.”

Being a people person naturally many people get the ease to open up themselves and have shown their vulnerability. All most all the time, those sensitive conversations opening line is, “I TRUST YOU”, at times they say verbally and at the other time, I found it in their hypersensitive tones. Well, does it make me feel encouraged? Yes, but alongside I always felt more responsible and had always uttered a silent prayer – “God, help me not to break this man’s trust?

At the end of every conversation, their thank you note starts with the line “thank you very much for listening to my story” or some of them say, “sorry, I took so much of your time”. Does it mean did I favour them? No, rather giving all ear to their stories has always made me feel favoured by them since there might many like me yet they chose to tap me.    

A vulnerable person always shows their love in their vulnerability

Primarily, it is the honesty that we look in love. Vulnerability also looks for honesty. Years back, I was invited to speak at a three days conference and I was accommodated at my ushering family’s place. One evening one of the daughters-in-law of the family opened up and shared with me her story of being abused by her husband. Even she requested me to counsel her husband. But I denied her with reason.I was worried if I counsel her husband, there might be a chaotic situation happening after my leaving, even to the greater and possible extent her husband might doubt her character since she disclosed her marital relationship secrets to a completely new person to him. And lo, in her response to the reason for my denial, she confirmed my fear. She said, “Brother, you are right! Exactly this happened a couple of years back. I asked one mentor person to counsel my husband and it turned worse experience. Since the person was new to my husband, it hurt the sentiments of my husband and after the mentor person leaving, I was verbally abused and was thrashed by my husband.”

As they have shown their love in their vulnerability,

you show them honesty and wisdom in your whereof.  

Are you worried I left her to suffer? Sadly, and practically, yes to the near future because since then she didn’t have any human to whom her husband can listen and repent. I have certain limits to help her. But to her goodness, I did refer her a greater Guiding Light, who is Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent – God. Out of many of my personal experiences, I suggested her for endurance instead of giving up her marital vow and take things into prayer, seeking God to intervene in her situation because somewhat that she was lacking in her life. From an Atheist point of view, I might sound like a slacker. But being a theist, undoubtedly that is the greatest possible reference where a vulnerable can take refuge and strength. Since Jesus promised,

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”


If you’ve ever played the game ‘TRUTH or DARE’, you can well imagine how caught up it feels to be between the devil and the deep blue sea! Those less daring ones who choose TRUTH are often tested with questions that make them vulnerable. That momentary jostle within – to speak up the truth or settle for a half-truth or lie altogether – can be quite unsettling for some people.

In this blog post, I won’t go into the reasons why people hesitate to be vulnerable. Rather, I’ll talk about when and why do people make themselves vulnerable and how their vulnerability needs to be handled.


Vulnerability is the pathway to intimacy. When we share our hearts out with someone, there develops a sense of bonding with that person. However, this heart-connection cultivates when one is naturally vulnerable. Making oneself vulnerable is a conscious decision. Forced/ simulated vulnerability create insecurity and discomfort. That is why most of the Truth-tellers in the game TRUTH or DARE report discomfiture.


  1. People make themselves vulnerable when they trust. The trust might have been developed over the years (i.e., a familiar person) or might be instant (i.e., a stranger). A husband is vulnerable before his wife when he opens up about his infidelity. A passenger on a railway platform on a dark night might be vulnerable when s/he asks a stranger for a lift home.
  2. People make themselves vulnerable when they face crises. Making oneself vulnerable is one of the survival mechanisms of the human brain. No matter how introverted a person may be, crises are natural forces to make him/ her open up and seek help.
  3. People make themselves vulnerable when they are happy. A person winning a hefty sum in a lottery makes himself vulnerable when he shares his happiness with his family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances.
  4. People make themselves vulnerable when they are in dilemma. To do or not to do, this way or that – when the mind gets clouded with such thoughts, one makes the self vulnerable.
  5. People make themselves vulnerable when they feel to. Natural vulnerability is largely intentional. And so, there are certain people who make themselves vulnerable at all times irrespective of circumstances.
  6. People make themselves vulnerable in love. A person’s best guarded secrets are often with the people s/he loves. It may be a parent, a friend, a sibling, a spouse, a child or a romantic interest.  


  1. Genetic predisposition – There are some people who are prone to making themselves more vulnerable than others by virtue of their genetic endowment.
  2. Venting pent up emotions – Unspoken words stifle the mind. Making oneself vulnerable helps unclutter the mind. A victim of abuse makes himself/ herself vulnerable by sharing his/ her emotions to a friend or Counsellor or social activist.
  3. Seeking suggestions/ advice – Often making oneself vulnerable is all about seeking suggestions/ advice. For instance, a lone explorer in a foreign land makes himself/ herself vulnerable by sharing with the localites that s/he is a lone explorer from another land while seeking directions to tourist spots, currency exchange counters or hotels.
  4. Socialization – Being vulnerable comes easily to gregarious people. They do not build walls around them and are adept at handling the consequences of their vulnerability.

Vulnerability researcher Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is about having the courage to show up and be seen.”


When someone makes himself or herself vulnerable before us, how do we handle it?

  1. Keep the trust – Most people make themselves vulnerable before those whom they trust. Hence, confidentiality is an unspoken clause that accompanies vulnerability. Gossip and spreading tales leads to breach of trust and might compel the vulnerable person never to express vulnerability before others.
  2. No blackmailing – Taking advantage of vulnerable persons victimizes them. Just because a person expresses his/ her vulnerability gives no right to the confidant to intimidate, threaten or victimize the vulnerable person for emotional or financial gains.
  3. Respect personal space – Though respecting personal space applies to all relationships, it is crucial when a personal is vulnerable before you. A foot in the door need not mean forceful entry indoors.
  4. No scathing criticisms – Criticisms taken and given in the right spirit build up the self-esteem and shape the personality of people. When a person makes himself or herself vulnerable, the least that is expected is scathing criticism to be heaped upon him or her. Vulnerability gives no license to criticism.
  5. Don’t judge – Judging vulnerable people often does more harm than help. It makes a gregarious person recoil, a happy person question happiness and a victim question self.
  6. Help or connect to a helper – Be a keen observer to notice if the vulnerable person needs help beyond being just vulnerable. Act smart and connect to professional helpers.  
  7. Don’t feel jealous – A person who is being vulnerable before you might also make himself or herself vulnerable before certain others – either because s/he is too open or because there is a desperate need to vent out. Hence, it is unwise to expect that you are the sole respite for the person.

Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. Internalization of thoughts, emotions and feelings might prove detrimental in the long run when a person resorts to repress them. To be agents of healing for people around, the art and science of being effective handlers of vulnerability needs to be mastered. If you feel you are a person who can handle vulnerability, create the ambience. Don’t impose vulnerability. Forced vulnerability is hedonistic! 


He was a colleague of mine and now a friend, thanks to the messenger services we are still in touch with each other after 12 years of acquaintance. We share common interest for writing. I share my blogs with him and vice versa and so is the case with mutual appreciation and encouragement.

One day during such casual chat about our lives, common hobby, national politics to office politics, weather and current affairs he opened up his heart to me. He was going through a lean patch in his marriage. And the issue that he mentioned was something I never imagined any of my male friend would ever discuss so clearly with me. Even now when I am writing here I am in two minds whether I shall discuss or not but the only thing that prompted me to go ahead with this story is “we all are mature adults”.

In his words – I don’t know whom shall I confide into and I don’t know if I am doing right or wrong by bringing up this topic with you. But since you are woman, you might understand well another woman. I can’t discuss with my male friends because knowing them well I know they will make fun of my dilemmas. The thing is I love my wife very much but unable to understand her sexual fantasies. It seems it is on her mind all the time. It is too overwhelming for me. I always believed marriage isn’t about just sex. Even if I want to just have a good time talking and knowing about her she simply have a different definition of lone time. I try to be a good partner in every sense she wants me to be but things are becoming overbearing. If things continue like this I am afraid I have to part ways and lose her which I don’t want. Do you think I shall go for counseling?

I had to be patient. One thing was quite clear from his situation and hesitation – we as a society still has many taboo subjects that we don’t want to or can’t talk about without a smirk on face or being judgmental. That was the exact reason my friend had been feeling insecure and going through a phase of mental pressure.

What I offered as an advice: I appreciate your idea of marriage and also the fact that you chose to open up yourself. See a woman also have sexual preferences and fantasies as much as a man have. But everything must have a limit. Just as she is vocal about what she wants you have the same right to be eloquent about how you feel about your relationship. Counseling is definitely an option but it’s more about both of you being open to the very idea of working it out. Patience is the key here. No marriage is perfect as people are not flawless but at the end of the day it is all about their willingness to age together. Don’t worry first talk to her, I am sure she will understand. Give it a try.

He thanked me and promised me to take the initiative of making his marriage work. Few days later when we were chatting I asked how things were at his end l. He responded “relatively better, we are taking things slow. Thanks for being understanding and not judging me. You are really a god sent friend to me”. I was overwhelmed and really happy that things were slowly moving in a better direction for them.

I strongly believe in one thing – as a friend the least I could do to help anyone is to listen to them as being heard out takes off a lot from the sufferers, isn’t it?


“Hi, I’m Chandler, I make jokes when I’m uncomfortable”

I could easily pass the above statement as my own… that’s probably what I’d be saying in my head, the moment someone starts pouring out their… well… life stories to me.

Like seriously – me… Why?

The thing is, for some very strange reason, people actually do think I have that ability to listen – no idea where they get that from, something they see in me or… I don’t know.

BUT-What happens when someone opens up to you and becomes vulnerable, how do you handle it?

If someone were to ask me that question right now… I’m not sure if there’s any correct way to answer that – but I’d probably sit for a while, and end up saying something really stupid in the first 10 minutes – and then BAM! its no longer a heart-to-heart, but a fun conversation, and sometimes, yes sometimes – my guess is, it works FAR BETTER than any soulful conversation/serious can ever achieve.

Could I BE any more Un-comfortable?

Let me be very frank, Vulnerability is state of mind I can never understand, and for someone who does feel vulnerable and comes up for some kind of guidance, to me personally – it has to be the toughest thing of my life. That said, of late – I try to use real-life humorous situations as a source of defense mechanism and more so a welcome distraction. I don’t do serious, RATHER I cannot.

Speech bubbles spelling out the phrase "Start the Conersation" with reference to customer conversations

However, I wasn’t as lucky to escape ‘the talkers’ – to be specific one of each sex – male and female, the best part of it was these “talks” were that it happened on journey’s, which made it so much relaxing. Nothing like have breeze blowing through the window, just incase my head overheats with excessive data.

It was only 2 days ago, I wanted to back off from my commitment to write my dedicated post on the subject-here on this platform Candles Online, thinking that I might not have anything significant to contribute – but then sometimes, all we need is a little motivation – after reading Aastha’s contribution/post yesterday, I remembered 2 very similar instances, that I was part of – voluntary or involuntary not sure.

There’s something about travelling and not having anything constructive to do, that makes people talk. I’d probably sleep (only to be kept awake by a talkative seat-partner)

It was only an hours journey from Panjim to Margao thankfully.

On 2 different instances, I had the good fortune of a feedback (which ofcourse I totally did not expect), firstly from a friend from college who carefully explained a rough situation he was going through at work, and apparently it was something that had I said that helped him overcome it. Office politics and employee-indiffernt-relationships is nothing new in the workplace, especially if you’re not one of the rub-everyone-the-nice-way kinda person

In his words:Savio, thankyou was listening to me the other day, things at work are so much better. Thank you for everything”

This message came after a couple of months via whatsapp, by that time I had even forgotten all about it. I don’t remember what I said or what happened during that journey but yes, I had helped someone who had opened up to me. Crazy! but did I just go the extraa..aaamile to help someone?

Another instance was a girl (at that time we had just gotten to know each other through a chat site I think) after a few interactions, she got more comfortable (is my guess) in my company. It was on one day, we decided to take a drive around the village side (she being from the North side of Goa and myself the South) the most natural thing to do is gloat about how beautiful the place around you is-even if it is within the same state.

But girls are clever, I tell you – she needed to talk and for me, it was a chance to take a girl for a drive (who would want to miss a chance right?) What was planned to be just a drive with a pretty girl, ended up being a conversation that I’d not expected. The drive had ended, so did the day. A few weeks passed and we connected on facebook.

A message on facebook Pvt chat read:

In her words: That drive the other day, thankyou for everything. You have no idea what you’ve done. Thankyou again.

Omg! What did I do? Okay, this was beginning to get scary, I was apparently talking to people and I wasn’t even aware of what I was doing. But she was right when she said “You have no idea what you’ve done”. I hadn’t a clue. I have always enjoyed a conversation, but the two above instances weren’t “just conversations” they were deeper and yet I came out unscathed. Phew! <yes, I’m still thinking about myself>

I personally, would never talk my blues away to anyone, I simply can’t do that-but for some, its so much easier, and for their ablity to find out that “someone” who can give them a listening ear – wow! What is that about?

Listening may be one part of it, but being there and saying the right things is another. Did I possess both of those qualities? I don’t really know, but I don’t think I would want to venture down that road.

However, one thing I’ve noticed is that, if there’s a connection, there need not be a reason, season or a fear to be there for someone else – it just happens. Connections are not formed by relationships (friendship, love etc) but an invisible chord that probably brings 2 individuals together in a particular time and place.

We may not know what people are going through, but somewhere, somehow – we end up being there for them, not as a special effort, but just being at the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME.

The keys to living a wonderful life, is BEING Ourselves, acting normal around people and going about life as if it is the last day of it – it is only then we would truly learn to appreciate every minute, every hour of everyday. Hope I do not sound too philosophical, coz that’s not what I’m going for. Remember – I am the casual one.


Few months back, I met one of my friends (not going to name her). She is the most daring and hardworking girl I know. In her early twenties she left her home, was on the verge of a suicide, then she started her own venture and I must say she fought her way through and is successful today. After a long time we were catching up, so we had lunch together and saw a movie. After all the fun time, she started sharing her future plans, how she wants to live closer to her parents and she plans to leave Bangalore in a year or so.

You know Aastha, Pune is where I want to move. It’s closer to my home town. I can take a trip to home on every weekend. With the money I have, I cannot afford a house in Bangalore. May be, in Pune I would be able to afford one. Would you also move to Pune?“, and there was a pause. I did not think she was waiting for an answer. I reluctantly replied to her, “No, I won’t be able to move to Pune. That is far for my home town and not even a direct flight. I am afraid that is not an option for me. Bangalore is fine. At least for now. The only thing is I don’t know if I can afford to retire in this city. It is too expensive. Anyway, that’s for a later point of time in life. Let’s see“.

OK. Then you buy a house in Bangalore, I would buy one house in Pune. That way, we can still stay at each other’s place when we travel. I don’t know yaar, I don’t want to get married. I am not ready yet. In case, if I don’t get married, you are still going to be there for me right? I can stay with you right if I feel like it?“, there was a sense of fear in her eyes.

“Of course, you are always welcome to stay at my place. If you don’t want to get married, then you don’t. Period. Don’t succumb to any pressure from anyone. I see where you are going with this conversation. You are worried about future, the fear of uncertainty. There is one thing I want you to remember. No body is going to make you the center of their world apart from parents and partner. Partner is a very important role in every person’s life. It might sound simple to not have one, but in reality it is very difficult. There would be no go to person to have a conversation, crack a joke or dine out. Well, both of us became aware of how it would be due to lockdown, thanks to the pandemic. If you are not choosing to marry, that should be solely because you don’t want to. Not because you won’t be able to share a house with me or hangout with someone else etc. That’s stupid. If you find the right person and are ready, then you should marry. You should not think about me at that time. I am not your responsibility. Likewise I might move on too. No matter what happens we stay friends, and are a phone call away always. You have been through a lot. I don’t think I would have handled things the way you did with so much patience and perseverance as you did. You would buy a house and decorate it the way you like it. Take it slow. Take it easy. Everything would fall in place.”, I hugged her and left from her place.

A couple of conversations over phone after this and she was all fine. I don’t know if I have helped her, but in many ways, I have found answers to the questions that were lingering in my mind. I could not express the worries I have with anyone, because I thought they would be brushed. Who and why would they care was always the thought. May be, I had a better insight into the worry she had, and it helped. Otherwise maybe, I would have also made a  more general, “Come on. You would be able to buy a house and settle down, don’t be stupid” kind of an answer. Most of the times, if we listen with patience, acknowledge their feelings and be there, that’s all a person who is vulnerable needs.


I was in my first year of engineering, the new hostel life, new friends and new college was a huge excitement. No amount of ragging could get my spirits down, we were always so happy about everything in life at that age. I made lots of friends and one of them was a girl with whom I just happen to connect right in first year. We spent almost all the time together – gossiping, studying, eating, going for walks, playing. It was a lot of fun with her in the 1st semester when ragging was high and we didn’t have much freedom.

As soon as the 2nd semester began, the ragging went down drastically and started enjoying evening time outside the hostel. Being young girls we started getting a lot of attention from boys of our batch and of senior batches. We totally enjoyed this attention, it used to be our favorite topic to guess which “Sir” was interested in whom.

I wouldn’t want to disclose my friend’s name, so let’s just call her “Sarah”.  While the last 2-3 months of second semester were left, Sarah told me that there was Final year Sir interested in her. As my interest grew, this girl blushed. But when she told me the name, I was shocked. He was known to be one of most notorious guys of final year batch. He had really a bad reputation and everybody knew that he could go to any extent to have casual fun with a girl in final days of his college. I told Sarah that I don’t have a very good feeling about this. But this girl had fallen for this notorious man. Apparently, they had already gone for a few dates and he had managed to catch her interest with all the sweet talks.

Not just me but many other senior girls in our hostel warned her too. But Sarah was too much in love with the wrong guy to listen to anybody. She believed that this man was a bad guy but had changed for her. All she wanted was to pass out of this engineering college and get married to him. This is how naïve she was!

They spent all the time together in college, she even managed to bunk many classes to be with him. Finally when he passed out of the college, we entered second year of engineering. It took Sarah a few months to realize that she was cheated upon. The guy never took her seriously after college, her calls were not returned or answered. Those were the days of landline STD booth and we saw Sarah standing at the STD booth for hours calling him over and over again.

During vacations she came to my place in Dehradun and this guy was also from the same city. We two girls managed to hunt his address and reach his place and when we did – he refused to even recognize us. Sarah was shattered so deeply, maybe I could never understand her pain because at that phase of my life – I never knew what it was to be in love. I could never feel her pain, I could only feel angry and frustrated with her for being such a nutcase.

All these months when she spent all her time with her boyfriend we naturally grew apart and I made other friends in the hostel. One evening in 4th semester when we having some silly celebration in the hostel – I saw Sarah sitting in her room crying hysterically. When I reached out to her, she said that she was feeling extremely depressed and had real bad thoughts. She said that she felt guilty and horrible about trusting the guy – such a wrong guy. While she was saying all this, I felt extremely angry at Sarah. All these months, we were trying to explain to her that her boyfriend wasn’t right for her. She never listened and now when it is the time to celebrate, she is crying here. I felt so angry at her that I screamed at her – “I told you so, Sarah. Not just me, the whole college told you so.”

For me, my own anger of losing a friend and seeing her in this sorry state was bigger than her own pain. I uttered these horrible words and banged the door on her leaving her alone in the room with her depression. That’s it. That day I lost her forever. She never spoke to me again as a friend. She did come out of her depression, did really well later in college and went on to be really successful. But she never spoke to me as a friend again.

Many months later, I realized my mistake but never had the courage to apologize to her. I had to let her go from my life but I promised myself to never ever utter these words – “I told you so” when somebody is sharing biggest regrets of their life.


Have you seen pearls or diamonds or some very costly stones or jewellery? Do you keep them on a table or juggle them in your hands? Do you not try to keep them safely and securely in a safe or locker? 

Remember, the same way, our emotions and feelings are like those precious pearls which we need to handle or preserve or keep with utmost care and security. 

In 2013, I attended a 10 days Training program on Trauma Counselling. The trainer addressed us and warned us about one thing which impacted me a lot and I treasured that statement in my heart every time someone shares her/his heart with me.  She said, “Whatever we all are going to share here and pour out our hearts talking about our vulnerabilities, our emotions should not go out of these four walls of this room. Treat everyone’s emotions and vulnerable moments as precious pearls“. And I truly am very careful when someone shares his or her heart with me afterwards. 

A few years ago one of my friends who is a doctor and was in Kolkata at that time requested me if I can counsel a lady suffering from schizophrenia. I was 30 years old then and the lady was 42-45 years old. She was rich being a wife of a businessman. His driver used to come and pick me up from my place to her house and after the counselling, I was dropped back at my place.  

What I wanted to point out here is, why my doctor friend asked me, a man with no counselling background to counsel her own client? I asked her out of nervousness and fear, “What made you ask me to do that favour for you? I have no such degree or license to counsel a schizophrenic patient“. 

Because the way you helped me in my times of trouble, the way you made me feel happy and comforted when I was so discouraged, I believe you can do the same with my client. So I have trust in you and your attribute to make people feel important and comfortable.” She responded and that made me understand why I should sharpen my skills further to help many others in future. 

Lynn Carol Miller, at the University of Southern California, explored the psychological profiles of openers by creating a questionnaire to assess the degree to which people are openers.

According to her –

If you endorse the statements below, then you’re likely to be an opener:

  1. People frequently tell me about themselves.

  2. I’ve been told that I’m a good listener.

  3. I’m very accepting of others.

  4. People trust me with their secrets.

  5. I easily get people to “open up.”

  6. People feel relaxed around me.

  7. I enjoy listening to people.

  8. I’m sympathetic to people’s problems.

  9. I encourage people to tell me how they are feeling.

  10. I can keep people talking about themselves.

I see myself as an Opener after I went through the list given above explaining the character traits of the same. At my workplace, I always complain jokingly, “Am I a temple bell that whoever comes rings it? Why me always? Why do you people always try to go through me?” And I know the answers to those WHYs – because I never send anyone with a NO, instead, I make them feel comfortable. I am very approachable to all. That’s my nature which I further tried to sharpen it more for the benefit of the people around me.  

Sadly, it takes just one human folly that turns an Opener into a Gossiper. If we read the number fourth point about maintaining secrecy or confidentiality, we understand what I am trying to say. The attribute of keeping people’s secret distinguishes an Opener from a gossiper or a slanderer. Once people mistrust a person with the way he or she handles their secrets, all other 9 points become immaterial or useless to them afterwards. So an Opener’s credibility is based on that number fourth attribute before everything else. 

THREE things, I always remember when someone opens up to me: 
1. I make them feel Comfortable with me by not judging them.
2. I Listen to them with utmost Care by giving Importance to whatever they say. 
3. I maintain Confidentiality by preserving their emotions, vulnerabilities as precious pearls. 

I try my level best to be a good keeper of those precious pearls which they place in my palms with so much trust and belief. 

How do you manage? 

Keep pondering and keep reading the articles of this week…

Stay Blessed!