Vulnerability is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. When looking from the outside, we admire someone who has gone through this. And we think they are strong. Examples of vulnerability include the feeling you get before telling someone you love them for the first time. Or trying out a new skill. Even when going to ask for forgiveness.
People assume it is something that happens in a close relationship. But it does not necessarily have to be this way. We may feel vulnerable at any given time. In any given situation. Vulnerability comes with emotional exposure. Accompanied by a level of uncertainty. And as humans, we naturally want to feel safe. Feeling safe includes being in the know. And with emotional exposure and uncertainty, we don’t feel safe. Hence, we shy away from it.
Benefits of being vulnerable
It is difficult to be in a space where you are criticized, rejected, or laughed at. Being vulnerable involves your willingness to accept the emotional risk that comes from being open and willing to love and be loved. Brene Brown says that vulnerability is an important measure of courage.
It is an important element of any relationship. Because it allows people to be seen and understood. Especially by, but not limited to, important people in your life. This way, people get to know who you really are. And furthermore, accept you for being yourself. And being brave! Being vulnerable serves as a way to foster authenticity, belongingness, and care.
Another benefit to vulnerability is increasing your resilience. Exposing yourself to a situation where you feel vulnerable can increase your self-confidence. In other words, it increases your belief in yourself to handle difficult situations. in this way, you feel that you can handle the difficulties life throws at you.
If you want to strengthen your relationships, being vulnerable is the best place to start. It promotes closeness and intimacy in relationships. It deepens your empathy and connection to others. When you face vulnerability head-on, you allow yourself to embrace different aspects of who you are. Therefore, becoming for self-accepting. This nurtures authenticity and confidence.
Also known as embracing or accepting your true self. Who you really are. It starts with caring and loving yourself. And there is a trick to it! And that is to remember that we are all human. Everyone feels insecure and awkward at times. No matter who they are. Every one wishes to change certain things. People have flaws, embarrassing stories, and past mistakes they wish they could forget. No matter how successful, how beautiful, how perfect someone appears, they all have the same awkwardness, insecurity, and self-doubt. The trick is to realize that everyone feels this way.
In doing so, we can take the step to be vulnerable. When we accept who we are, and know that everyone feels insecure and experiences difficult thoughts. (how funny that we get comfort by knowing other people go through difficulty!)
A beautiful mess
So why do people fear vulnerability if it is a good thing? Vulnerability contributes to other challenging emotional situations. For example, it plays a part in emotions such as disappointment, shame, fear, and grief. It is also related to fear of rejection and abandonment.
Research done by Brene Brown shows that we celebrate vulnerability as a strength in other people. But we look at it as a weakness in ourselves. She goes on to say that we love to see the raw truth in other people. But on the contrary, we are scared to let people see it in us. Because by being vulnerable, we may make a mess of our reputation. Or we may lose a friend. But we fail to see that we can gain a sense of belonging. And we can be embraced by others. Those who appreciate the rawness. Brene Brown calls vulnerability a “beautiful mess” because it comes with big risks as well as big rewards.
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