Vulnerability Is A Strength, Not A Weakness
Vulnerability is one of the most courageous things a person can do. When we are vulnerable, we are authentic and real. We bring our true selves forward, unapologetically and unashamedly, so that we — and others — can see us for who we are. We share ourselves in spite of the emotional risk or pain that may come as a result of doing so. To be vulnerable, we have to strip away all of our defense and protective mechanisms and be ourselves.
We tend to think of vulnerability as a weakness, something to be fortified and protected, when in reality being vulnerable is a strength that requires an incredible amount of courage to do.
We have to be willing to jump fully into ourselves without the safety nets and protection that we usually use. We have to be willing to experience the emotions that we are feeling rather than burying them deep inside of ourselves. And we have to be able to sit and be with these emotions — even if they are painful for us — and let them wash over us…and then be released.
That’s scary stuff! We ask ourselves: What if people don’t like the vulnerable, authentic me? What if they make fun of me? What if I am completely ostracized because of who I really am? What if I am not good enough? We worry that the information, feelings or aspects of yourself that you share can or will be used to hurt you. So, we say to ourselves, if I share this feeling, situation or aspect of myself, the other person might make fun of me or blab it to everyone else. We are afraid of not being heard or helped. It sounds like this: what if I open up about this “thing” and no one cares. Or maybe they will tell me that what I’m feeling is no big deal…Or perhaps I’ll be a burden to them and they won’t want to help me or listen to me.
Our fears cause us to put on a mask of self-sufficiency, strength and having no emotions to protect ourselves.
I have to admit that I had these fears. I rarely would let people in because I was afraid of being seen as weak, being rejected, and having people use what I was saying against me to hurt me. It has been a journey for me to be vulnerable and share whom I am with the world. I started opening up and being vulnerable about what was going on in my life and myself when I published my first book, This Trip Will Change Your Life: A Shaman’s Story of Spirit Evolution. It was a big step for me because I was worried that people would think I was crazy, make fun of me, or even reject me. But, amazingly enough, that didn’t happen. Since then, I’ve consciously chosen to be vulnerable in my weekly blog and podcast/radio show.
Gifts from Vulnerability
What I’ve found is that for the most part, my fears have been unfounded…and that most people who know me — and even some complete strangers — genuinely care about me, want to listen, want to help, and most importantly want to connect with me through my vulnerability. We crave vulnerability. It is one way that we connect to ourselves and to each other and it is critical in intimate relationships. When I share personal stories or open up about myself through my blog or writing, I get more responses and comments than when I post a “how to” article. People like to see the heart of people.
There are so many gifts when you are vulnerable and authentic:
- First off, when you are vulnerable, you are perfectly, divinely, messily, human. You are real. You are flawed and imperfect, but you are in touch with who you are, you forgive yourself for your mistakes, and you can decide if/how you want to grow and evolve.
- When you are vulnerable, you also build stronger relationships with the people around you — whether that’s your partner or significant other, your family, your friends or your co-workers — because you let down your protective shields and allow them to truly see you for who you are.
- You also then know that you are completely lovable and acceptable exactly as you are. People who love you when you are open and vulnerable truly love YOU — not the fake mask or persona you might have been wearing.
- And that leads to you not only feeling better about yourself but also discovering and knowing that you are a valuable individual…leading to an increase in your self-esteem and self-worth….and even an increased understanding of who you are and why you are here.
- Your vulnerability also helps you to love others and have more patience, compassion and empathy for them…even if those people are not open and vulnerable.
- When you are vulnerable, you challenge yourself to be open, honest, and authentic…and ultimately help yourself grow and evolve.
- Finally, when you are vulnerable, you give other people permission to be vulnerable too. You serve as a model for what vulnerability and trust looks like and how much deeper a connection can be. Your vulnerability can inspire and help others find the courage to be vulnerable too.
You will know that you have been vulnerable when you feel as if you have connected with your true self and your true needs and you have acknowledged and shared them with yourself and possibly with another person. You may not have gotten what you wanted or needed — because when we are vulnerable, we do so knowing that sometimes we might get hurt or disappointed — but you choose to be open and authentic.
In short, you have chosen to be strong and courageous.
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