It seems like everywhere you turn today, there are people encouraging you to be vulnerable, open, and honest.
You hear it so often, it can be easy to forget how difficult and scary this can be, especially if you’ve been burned in the past. And if you live in this world, there is a good chance you’ve been in multiple environments where being your full self was not nurtured or encouraged. In Western culture we receive so many messages about the ideal we should be aspiring to, it can be effortless to ignore what our deepest inner truth is, let alone aspire to bring it out in the world in a way that feels authentic.
So if you are having trouble being vulnerable—it’s no surprise, and certainly not something you should beat yourself up about. But there are some small things you can do to build up your courage and strength and make taking vulnerable leaps just a little bit easier. Here are five strategies that I’ve found really helpful in this struggle.
1) Stop Assuming You Know What Other People Think
The reality is, we barely have a grasp on what we truly feel, let alone what anyone else is thinking. When you realize you’re assuming what someone else is thinking, especially when it is about you, recognize it as an illusion. If there’s something you need to know—ask. Otherwise, try to focus on what is true for you, not what you think is true for others, and this will free you both.
2) Embrace Your Contradictions
If you believe that who you really are is some specific, unchanging thing that you need to discover, you’re destined to always feel like you haven’t arrived yet.That’s because each human is ever-evolving taking multiple forms from moment to moment.. Your ‘real’ self isn’t static, and you are always free to change your mind. You don’t have to wait until you are 100% sure about everything to say what you feel is most true in the moment.
3) Focus on the Moment
Meditation, yoga, breath work—all of these various practices encourage us to step away from constantly predicting the future or dwelling on issues of the past, and allow ourselves to be open to what is here and now. When we are in touch with how we deeply feel in the here and now, being vulnerable can flow more naturally, because we aren’t as focused on how we were or how we should be.
4) Visualize Your Support
When you are in moments where vulnerability is called for and the fear is rising—don’t go it alone! Develop an inner well of supportive visualizations—kind words you’ve received, dreams where you felt loved, picturing the faces of those you hold dear, that you can lean on when the fear is getting intense. Practice these visualizations when you aren’t feeling fear, so you can access them quickly when needed.
5) Take Your Discomfort As a Good Sign
Being vulnerable is the act of stretching past your typical limits, so a little discomfort could very well mean that you are doing something right. These changes are both exciting and terrifying, and we can choose to focus on one side or another. Try to lean into the excitement if possible, or focus on why you were seeking to be more vulnerable in the first place. Often if you’re able to just stand in the first few waves of fear, you can flow into a whole other sea of emotion you weren’t even expecting!
Vulnerability is more than a buzzword. It’s a way of being in the world, one where we choose to trust rather than to doubt, where we follow our desires rather than be trapped in fears, and one where we believe that whatever is present inside of us, no matter how shameful or mean or ugly we may think it is, is valuable, simply because it is. Wherever you are on your path of becoming more vulnerable and manifesting your deepest self, I wish that you receive all the guidance and support you need to continue your journey with integrity and courage.
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