The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
The idea of being vulnerable makes most people cringe, but the truth is, it’s actually an essential key to healing and living in alignment with your authentic self.
So why would we actually want to be vulnerable?
- Practicing vulnerability allows you to feel more connected to others, therefore building more fulfilling relationships
- Vulnerability improves your romantic relationships by making you more emotionally available
- Vulnerability allows you to be more authentic and honest with yourself, and others
- It opens doors to you that would have otherwise remained shut if you had closed yourself off
- It allows you to be challenged and grow, becoming wiser and stronger
- It allows you to live a more fulfilling life by being open to experiencing all that life has to offer
Most people are not comfortable with vulnerability. We want it from others, but we, ourselves, don’t want to be in the vulnerable spotlight.
We look for vulnerability in others, but we try to hide from it ourselves. We don’t want vulnerability, but we need it. It is the very thing that connects all of us together. This is how we experience compassion, understanding, and unconditional love.
“The vulnerability paradox: It’s the first thing I look for in you, and the last thing I want you to see in me.”Brene Brown
A key misconception is that vulnerability is weakness – but the truth is, it’s courage. It takes courage to show up as you are in a world that thrives on false identities.
We are conditioned by society to believe that we aren’t good enough. Society says that we need to hide the imperfect parts, we need to blend in and follow the crowd – but in reality, the crowd is traumatized and no one knows what they are doing, or what they “should“ feel. However, you’re “supposed” to appear that you do know – so everyone puts on a mask, searching for someone to connect to, yet, without being vulnerable and showing their true self, they can’t find authentic connection, which only perpetuates the fear of vulnerability.
One of my favorite poems sums this up perfectly:
She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid,
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through
Then passed right by –
And never knew.Shel silverstein
The problem with masking is that energetically, one is in fact pushing away the very thing that they so desperately yearn for.
When you drop the masks and allow others to see you for who you really are, you are able to connect in much deeper, meaningful ways, leading to a more fulfilling life.
Often times people avoid saying how they really feel, or refuse to show up with authenticity because they are afraid of being rejected or hurt in some way. That’s all that vulnerability is – a willingness to show up and be seen, without knowing the outcome – and that can feel really scary!
However, the alternative is to present a false representation of oneself, which is even more damaging, because then one never genuinely feels as though they are unconditionally loved or understood for who they truly are.
On the other hand, some have learned that being themselves (vulnerable, authentic, open and honest) makes others uncomfortable, and therefore are afraid to make waves.
The reason authenticity makes some uncomfortable is because those who aren’t willing to sit with their own emotions and be vulnerable (even with themselves) have deep wounding that they are afraid to acknowledge. The authenticity of another acts as a mirror being held up for one to look within themselves and see where in their life they may be afraid of being seen.
In this way, it can bring up quite a bit of discomfort for one who isn’t willing to confront their shadows. They simply don’t know how to react, they only know that it feels painful. So, it’s not uncommon for a person to judge and criticize others, as if they are in the wrong for being “too open”. This is often a result of generational trauma and societal conditioning which tells us not to “air out all of our dirty laundry”, which somewhere along the lines transformed into not letting anyone see the real you.
The truth is, when you’re committed to growth, healthy boundaries, honest relationships, open communication and showing up as yourself with no ulterior motive – it triggers people who have wounds in these areas. Try not to take it as a personal rejection.
Are you meeting heart to heart or wound to wound?
Relationships of all kinds can be destroyed when wounds are pressed and misunderstandings are allowed to fester within. I know we were never taught this as children, but as adults now, it is our responsibility to find the courage to ask to be heard. It is also our responsibility to try to understand others. If you’re hurting or confused in a relationship (friendship, family, or romantic), ask for clarification.
The ego loves to run wild with stories when there’s a lack of communication because one is searching for answers. It could be so much easier if we cut out all the bullshit and met together heart to heart, rather than wound to wound.
The subconscious mind will create all sorts of scenarios (most of which, would never actually happen). A fear of being vulnerable can cause us to keep people at a distance, especially the ones we love the most, because they hold the most power to potentially hurt us.
The subconscious says, “If I don’t allow myself to be fully invested, I won’t get hurt as bad.” But what this actually does is rob us of joy, passion, and experiencing the unconditional love that we are yearning for.
The stories that have been created in the subconscious mind are the younger parts of ourselves that have been wounded in the past. We hold on to them, wearing them like armor, when in fact, they are actually stifling our soul’s progress. However, when we allow ourselves to show up fully and be seen in all of our fears and insecurities, we are then given the opportunity to create a new story. We are able to create new experiences that update our subconscious mind, revealing the truth that it is safe for us to be flawed and vulnerable, and we will be loved anyways – even more authentically than before.
So how do we grow in meeting heart to heart? We have to lay down our armor and speak our fears out loud. We need to ask for support, and ask to understand others.
As you begin to practice being more vulnerable and showing up authentically, you’re relationships will change. Some will become stronger, and some might end. When you have relationships in your life that require you to be someone you’re not in order to suit their needs, to make them comfortable so they don’t have to be triggered – that is detrimental to your own well-being. When you really start to step into yourself and realize that you can’t be that person anymore, that’s when relationships start to change.
You will look like an entirely different person to others. Some won’t understand, and some can straight up just be awful towards you for simply taking care of your own needs. But then, there will also be a few who say, “wow… look at you!” Those are your people.
How do you allow yourself to show up in the world? Do you let people see the real you? Do you speak your fears out loud? Do you break down personal barriers to create authentic connection? Do you share what truly lights you up? Or… do you hide behind layers upon layers of masks, afraid of what people might think, saying to yourself, “if only they knew…”