Don’t Be Afraid to Show Vulnerability to Personally Connect
In Brene Brown’s best-selling book, “Daring Greatly,” she talks about using vulnerability to combat shame. For a lot of us, vulnerability is something we wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, let alone practice in everyday life. However, we need vulnerability to grow more confident and personally connect with others.
Brown, like most of us, began to wrestle with vulnerability around middle school, where she began to develop “vulnerability avoidance” skills. With these skills, she explained how she kept everyone at a safe distance and always had an exit strategy. She wouldn’t allow herself to trust and open up to anyone in order to embrace the emotion of a true personal connection.
Personal connection is a result of the love and belonging humans need. That being said, the absence of love, belonging, and connection leads to suffering. The first step in creating a personal connection is trusting that you’re worthy enough of love and belonging.
We need to show up and show who we really are.. As Brown states, “what we know matters, but who we are matters more.” We need to trust ourselves in order to accept the love and belonging that we think we deserve. This is the first step in practicing and adopting vulnerability.
The 3 Myths of Vulnerability
Vulnerability has a number of myths associated with it. This includes that it is a weakness, people choose to opt out of it, and people are vulnerable without boundaries.
Myth #1: Vulnerability is a weakness
People view vulnerability as a weakness, which is absolutely not true. If anything, vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. It is the core of all feelings and emotion. To embrace your emotions is feeling vulnerable. Emotions like love leave us feeling emotionally exposed. We struggle with vulnerability because we view it as a weakness; however, we admire others’ vulnerability. At the end of the day, we want to experience others’ vulnerability without being vulnerable. Humans admire others’ vulnerability but repelled by our own. In order to be vulnerable, we must ask ourselves, “what’s worth doing even if you fail?”
Myth #2: One doesn’t do vulnerability
The second myth associated with vulnerability is that one “doesn’t do vulnerability.” Hate to tell you, but you can’t just opt out of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. When we avoid vulnerability, we behave in ways that don’t align with our values. We don’t have a choice in how we experience vulnerability, but we do have a choice in how we respond to it.
Myth #3: Vulnerability lets it all hang out
The last myth around vulnerability is that when we let ourselves be vulnerable, we are just “letting it all hang out.” Vulnerability without boundaries leads to disconnection, distrust, and disengagement. We have to feel trust to be vulnerable and need to be vulnerable in order to trust, and that trust grows a little at a time. The largest threat to vulnerability is disengagement, not caring or devoting time to a relationship. When this is gone, it hurts us and makes our trust slip away. When it comes down to it, you can be loved for your vulnerabilities, not despised because of them. The key is just asking for support from loved ones.
Now that we’ve established the idea of vulnerability let’s talk about ways to practice it in terms of using it to personally connect with one another. We mentioned above how vulnerability leads to trust, now let’s apply it to sharing story details and embracing emotion.
Vulnerability as a Means of Personal Connection
The only way people are going to know and understand what we’ve been through is understanding our stories. While we have established trust through vulnerability, we need to use that to feel comfortable sharing our stories with others. Oftentimes, we feel like it’s a huge leap to share our stories of shame, discomfort, and betrayal with others. We don’t know how they are going to react so we are scared. Our support system is put in place to be patient with us in this step and provide us with an environment where we feel safe, able to open up.
However, we need to keep in mind that vulnerability is the feeling of emotions that come from risk and uncertainty. One way to look at vulnerability is using it to embrace emotion. For some of us, it’s hard to be vulnerable and embrace all the emotions that we feel. Sometimes, we’d rather not feel angry, or sad, or hurt but instead, practice vulnerability avoidance. The hardest thing to do is allow ourselves to just feel emotion, but oftentimes, in the long run, it’s the best practice we can do for ourselves.
Practicing vulnerability is a skill that we all need to implement. Is it a skill that is going to help us improve our relationships with others by allowing us to build trust, share our story details, and embrace emotion. Through vulnerability, we become better humans for enhancing the way we personally connect with others.