How to Be Vulnerable and Still Enjoy Strong, Happy Life Relationships
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How to be Vulnerable and Still Enjoy Healthy, Happy Relationships
What do you think of when you hear the word “vulnerable”? Does it scare you? Does it make you uncomfortable?
Most of us would think learning how to be vulnerable is the same as learning to be weak.
If you’re like many of us, you do all you can to avoid being vulnerable.
The thought of being completely transparent, even, and sometimes especially, with those we are close to, is a pretty scary thing.
And to lay ourselves open for the rest of the world to see is often unthinkable. But, why?
This aversion to vulnerability may come from any number of sources and, depending on your background, may be caused by different situations or people.
But the root cause of a desire to avoid vulnerability usually stems from feelings of unworthiness and a perception of weakness.
Many of us believe that allowing people to see all the parts of us – the imperfections, the needs, the shortcomings – all those things that we ourselves don’t even want to see, makes us less worthy of love or acceptance by others.
Is this true?
Are we really less worthy of love, consideration or respect because we aren’t perfect?
Of course not! Because, no one is perfect.
And those who think less of us because of our imperfections are not individuals who are conducive to our greater good; us showing up in life as the best version of ourselves.
In her TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability”, Brené Brown discusses some of the reasons why we struggle with being vulnerable.
We tend to try to mask negative emotions through different means, depending on how strong are these emotions.
We use things like alcohol, medication, drugs, etc. to lessen negative feelings in an attempt to feel more worthy of others’ acceptance.
The problem is, we can’t selectively mask negative emotions. When we try to get rid of the bad, we end up getting rid of the good, too.
But, the key to finding the love, acceptance and even respect from others often lies in vulnerability.
When we are able to share our true selves, who we are authentically, without worrying about the judgments or perceptions or acceptance of others, then we’re free.
Free to love more, free to share and give more, free to contribute more that is of actual value to others.
And when others sense that we are not hiding, we aren’t being dishonest, fake or phony, they are more receptive to us.
This is true in personal, professional and even business relationships.
As Brené Brown states so well, vulnerability is the “…core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love…”
By refusing to be vulnerable, we risk cutting ourselves off from the true joy and happiness of life.
So, how are we supposed to be vulnerable in a way that is healthy, positive and beneficial to our journey?
It’s important to remember some things on this journey to vulnerability.
Think about times when you have felt a tremendous amount of love, appreciation, connection with or respect for someone, whether it’s your spouse, a good friend, your child or someone you’ve met professionally or through business contacts.
Was it when they were showing all kinds of strength and overachieving?
Or was it when they were being real and transparent and honest?
My guess is it’s more often been the latter.
We fear this kind of openness, but it is often exactly what draws us to others and others to us, and helps us to make the strongest and most valuable connections.
There is beauty and promise and hope in imperfection.
We use the phrase, “nobody’s perfect” and in our minds we all know it as a truth, but we often refuse to acknowledge it in ourselves.
However, when we share our imperfections and struggles with others in an open, honest, no-excuses way, they can identify with us.
We’re able to better see our likenesses and commonalities no matter who we are and where we come from.
This is true in our personal relationships, but it’s true in our professional and business relationships as well.
There are no perfect employees or bosses, and trying to be so only makes us less human if not miserable to boot.
Admitting you struggle is not always easy, but it doesn’t diminish your capabilities or authority, and it can create a new level of respect and understanding between you and coworkers or employees.
Being vulnerable is not the equivalent of being weak.
On the contrary, exposing your own vulnerability is an act of courage that many aren’t capable of.
It reveals an inner strength that demonstrates that even though you may struggle and have problems (like all of us), you’re able to accept your struggles as part of who you are and therefore, they don’t make you any less worthy of a person.
In fact, revealing our vulnerabilities makes us more human, and all the more capable of love, relationship and connection.
So, be open. Learn how to be vulnerable, even if it’s painful.
You may be surprised at the ways in which your life is enriched, fulfilled and broadened when you do.
Was this post helpful to you? If so, please let me know in the comments.
And if you know someone who would benefit from this information, please share! Thanks!
Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.