Many people associate the idea of “being vulnerable” with weakness, hurt, fear, and even betrayal. Unfortunately, this often means we turn away from vulnerability to protect ourselves and our hearts.
Yet, being emotionally vulnerable can bring your relationships closer, foster greater understanding, and create an even deeper level of love and intimacy.
It can also help you better understand yourself, pushing away shame and allowing empathy and strength to shine through. In this article, we’re going to explore why vulnerability is truly your greatest strength (not a weakness!) and how embracing vulnerability can lead to a more fulfilling life.
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage.” — Brene Brown
So, what is vulnerability exactly? Embracing vulnerability means letting down your guard and allowing your emotional barriers to fall. Saying “I love you” or apologizing are examples of emotional vulnerability. But they aren’t the only ones.
Telling someone you’re hurt is also embracing vulnerability. It’s opening up and discussing your emotions, rather than suppressing them or letting them fester.
And it feels really off-base to do some of this stuff, especially if you’ve grown up in an environment where emotions weren’t discussed or where perhaps you were told to “not care so much” or “suck it up.”
The truth is, vulnerability actually puts you in a position where you could be hurt. This is where vulnerability takes courage. For some of us, it’s tough to let people in!
Now… Talking about vulnerability without mention of Brene Brown is like throwing a birthday party without a cake. If you’ve just begun diving into the embracing vulnerability and the power it holds, Brene Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” TedTalk is a must-watch.
Brown touches on human connection and how vulnerability, shame, courage, and empathy all intertwine, similarly to what we’re going to discuss further in this article.
Brene Brown emphasizes the importance of courage when it comes to embracing vulnerability. It takes great strength to let down your guard and let someone else know how you feel, whether that’s positive or negative.
Experts further theorize that vulnerability can even help us understand ourselves better, allowing us to process and work through our emotions. In turn, you end up with better emotional regulation, improved emotional health and connection, and enhanced mental health.
Being emotionally vulnerable further helps us become more resilient. It helps us understand new perspectives and truly embrace our authentic self. With vulnerability, you stand loud and proud saying “this is who I am and this is how I feel.”
It doesn’t mean your feelings can’t change or that you're seeing the intention of the other person (vulnerability helps you determine if this is so!). It’s simply an expression, a way to communicate and a way to improve communication so individuals can understand each other better.
In many ways, vulnerability is the basic foundation of successful, healthy, and long-term relationships. But this isn’t the only way vulnerability benefits you or others. Vulnerability can also shine-through in leadership, allowing us to trust someone to guide us and navigate the good and bad.
As a leader, you need to know when to admit your wrongs. This is being vulnerable. You also need to be able to give appropriate feedback, which is also being vulnerable.
Plus, a leader should lead by example, showing others how they should act or express themselves. Vulnerability is a key ingredient here! It further gives way to a higher level of trust, which, again, is undeniably an important part of leadership.
Many world leaders did a great job of this during the pandemic. They expressed their fears, while also instilling confidence that their country would get through this time.
Related Article: Develop Your Authentic Leadership Presence With These 4 Tips
While we’ve already discussed some benefits of being vulnerable above, there’s more! Other benefits of opening up your world and embracing vulnerability include:
Maybe by now you’re wondering how to be vulnerable in a relationship or how to be more vulnerable so you can reap these benefits (as well as build healthy relationships!). Keep reading to uncover how you can start embracing vulnerability — starting today!
While scary, it’s undeniable that vulnerability has various benefits for our relationships and overall wellness. So, how can you begin embracing vulnerability?
No, this doesn’t mean lashing out when angry or hurt. It simply means using clear communication to express your needs and wants. The truth is that others can’t read our minds, no matter how much we wish they could!
Thus, it’s up to us to open up, avoid being defensive and insensitive, and express what we are thinking and feeling to the other person. This gives way to an authentic relationship, where each person can show up as their true and real self.
We are so programmed to avoid asking for help or asking for another to lean on.
Yet, relationships are built on this and sometimes, we all need a little help! And as previously mentioned, someone might not know what you need at any given moment. Sure, they might try, but they could easily miss the mark unless you ask for it.
Don’t shy away from this! When you’re in need, ask for help.
Many of us spend life rushing off from one thing to another.
When conflict arises, we see it as an inconvenience that is wasting our precious time. Is this serving us? Absolutely not.
During conversations and disagreements, stay present. Don’t bring up past issues or conflicts. Instead, listen to the other person and express your feelings too, but only those regarding the present issue at-hand.
This is all about giving a relationship the time and attention it deserves. And when you do so, being emotionally vulnerable is easier. You both feel heard and understood, which are the foundations to moving forward from any issue.
This is a hard one.
Sometimes, we, logically, might even disagree with our own emotions, which can throw a whole other wrench into the mix and make you shy away from wanting to express yourself. Yet, shame is something that is so toxic, in relationships with others and yourself.
And this is exactly where acceptance comes into play. Fully accepting yourself and your emotions offers a vector for you to open up. It makes it okay. After all, nobody's perfect. We’re all just humans trying to navigate through this chaos called life.
Yes, it’s scary.
Yet, some of the scariest things in life that take the greatest amount of courage can lead to the best parts!
In many ways, being emotionally vulnerable is a form of self-care and self-love. It forces you to be honest and open, which are critical pieces of loving yourself and building healthy connections with others.
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