“Vulnerability is the essence of romance. It’s the art of being uncalculated, the willingness to look foolish, the courage to say, ‘This is me, and I’m interested in you enough to show you my flaws with the hope that you may embrace me for all that I am but, more important, all that I am not.” – Ashton Kutcher
Well, I typically tend not to quote Ashton Kutcher on my blog, but I love this quote. It is particularly apt to me at the moment. I have just finished running the UK Hypnosis Convention and I have been vulnerable throughout. I have laid myself bare, accepted and displayed my flaws and expressed myself accordingly. I feel amazing for having done so and I think that the convention had a better attitude and feel to it as a result.
For many of us, being vulnerable can evoke feelings of fear, uncertainty, or shame. We may have been taught not to appear vulnerable (especially men in our society). It can be unsettling to be vulnerable because it opens one up to the possibility of being rejected or failing. Because of this, we might make an effort to limit our exposure to vulnerability. Although being open to vulnerability is frequently seen as a sign of weakness, it is actually a crucial aspect of the human experience.
Vulnerability can sometimes be seen in the physical reactions of your body. You might notice your muscles tense or a pit in your stomach. When you openly express your needs, needs, and thoughts, you might notice a quickening of your breathing. Your nervous system might feel paralysed, and you might feel unable to speak. You turn away. In some cases, you may even feel as if you’re losing a piece of yourself.
Vulnerability can be terrifying. After all, it has the ability to alter your course in life. You can otentially face uncertainty head-on and look at how vulnerability manifests in your relationships in order to unpack it. Examining human vulnerability entails consciously observing how it manifests physically or how it affects your day-to-day behaviour. Despite the fact that your first instinct might be to avoid it at all costs, vulnerability can help you forge meaningful connections that can change your life. It might ultimately turn fear into a sense of belonging.
What Exactly is Vulnerability?
According to Dr. Brene Brown, vulnerability is “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” There can be many different types of vulnerabilities such as being vulnerable in a relationship with your partner, vulnerability in body and mind, vulnerability in workplace, and finally vulnerability in your community. When it comes to relationships, we all have needs and wants as humans. However, you might be afraid to openly express those feelings in case you expose yourself to social pressures like rejection, abandonment, or criticism.
There are times when recognising genuine vulnerability in your mind and body necessitates focusing all of your mental and physical energy on yourself. How recently did you check in with yourself? Vulnerability in the workplace is real. You frequently feel exposed because of the ways you conduct yourself. Examples of vulnerability in the workplace emerge, whether it’s comparing yourself to a coworker, questioning your efforts on a project, or dealing with imposter syndrome.
Benefits of Vulnerability
Being vulnerable can seem like a deeply intimate experience. The advantages of being vulnerable, however, go far beyond our individual experiences; they also strengthen our interpersonal relationships. In this article, I’m sharing 8 ways vulnerability can benefit you.
- Creates Intimacy in a Relationship
In a relationship, vulnerability and trust are inextricably linked. It can be difficult to say which quality comes first, but both contribute to a deeper connection. You can be more vulnerable if you have a little trust. Then, by displaying a little vulnerability, you can win over more people’s trust. For your relationships to feel secure, this cycle is essential. You give the other person a chance to prove their reliability with your information by being vulnerable. Usually, they will return the favour, giving you the chance to demonstrate your own trust. In the end, this heightened trust will promote greater intimacy between the two parties.
- Develops Empathy and Understanding
Being open and vulnerable can be frightening because we worry about being judged. To express our innermost feelings, whether they are those of fear, shame, or hope, can be terrifying.
We enable others to put themselves in our shoes by allowing ourselves to be seen. For everyone involved, vulnerability fosters empathy and understanding. We are better able to comprehend the many facets of each person’s story the more open-minded they are. Sometimes all it takes to arouse our empathy is a simple reminder that everyone has a unique story to tell.
In addition to strengthening bonds between people, empathy and understanding are necessary outcomes of vulnerability if one is to experience true fulfillment in life.
- Boosts Self-Worth
Sharing our innermost feelings, especially those that are negative, can actually boost our sense of worth, which may seem counterintuitive. That is what actually takes place. We allow ourselves to be seen and accepted exactly as we are when we are open and vulnerable. This advantage of acceptance can help us develop self-acceptance as well.
Let’s say you’re embarrassed about a hobby or interest you have. Perhaps it’s something incredibly strange, like the spread of illnesses among koalas. Since you’re worried about being judged, your natural instinct is probably to conceal this interest from the public.
- Provides an Opportunity to Grow
There is no doubt, vulnerability helps you grow. To believe that we can develop as people by merely thinking things through is naive. It takes a catalyst to inspire change; it doesn’t just happen on its own. Being open to change is one advantage of being vulnerable.
In light of this, we leave ourselves open to these catalysts when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. It could be a chat with a friend, a call to a therapist, or even an internet search for fresh concepts. Whatever the case, it would not have happened if we had not already been exposed as being weak.
- Helps in Controlling our Negative Emotions
Dr. Brene Brown says “shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: silence, secrecy, and judgment.” This is true for all negative emotions. When we protect ourselves from being vulnerable, we suppress our negative feelings. This not only encourages their growth but also keeps us from utilising efficient methods of processing them. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, on the other hand, allows us to cultivate a sense of community and support around us. We can learn coping mechanisms to deal with our negative emotions and work through them.
- Increases Personal Accountability
We can increase our self-awareness by communicating with others about our feelings and mistakes. We can recognise our emotions, behaviors, and patterns by talking them out. This might feel challenging to do at times. In the long run, vulnerability will help us grow as individuals.
We will not only be able to take on more responsibility for our actions but also become more self-aware. In addition to the numerous biases that our brain has working to perplex us, our emotions also cloud our judgment. We can improve our personal accountability and bring about positive changes in our lives by being vulnerable.
- Helps us Find Like Minded People
All people desire a sense of belonging, but we frequently confuse this with “fitting in.” When we make an effort to fit in, we compromise our authenticity in favor of adapting to the current social situation. We act in this way because we fear having our identity rejected.
Finding the people who will accept you for who you truly are requires being vulnerable, despite the fact that doing so can be frightening.
Yes, it could be extremely upsetting and demoralizing if you tell your “friends” something and they don’t support you. Wouldn’t you, however, prefer to understand this reality than carry on interacting with those who reject you? When you are vulnerable, you have the opportunity to attract the people you want in your life: people who are supportive, empathetic, and nonjudgmental.
8. Allows us to work together more as a benefit if we are vulnerable
We’re led to believe by our culture that we must face challenges alone. We fool ourselves into believing that vulnerability is a necessary weakness, after all. As a result, we foolishly attempt to handle our problems on our own. Real vulnerability enables us to ask for assistance and, as a result, cooperate to overcome our obstacles.
Really, it just makes sense. Wouldn’t it be better to try to solve a problem with two or more minds working on it, whether it be emotional or situational? Being open to support and collaboration opens up a world of opportunities.
- Builds Self-Trust
It’s crucial to have confidence in yourself when interacting with others. Vulnerability can thrive when there is trust and security. Being confident in your ability to judge when it would be beneficial to let your guard down, such as in a supportive and loving romantic relationship, and when it might be best to maintain more distance, such as with someone who has made fun of you in the past for being vulnerable, go hand in hand with feeling comfortable being vulnerable.
Trusting yourself is even more important than trusting others because you have no control over what they do. The first benefit is that it gives you the freedom to use your discretion when deciding who and when to be vulnerable with. Gain self-confidence by taking small steps. Start out modestly by being open and honest with close friends or other people you feel comfortable around. Take note of how, despite your worries or unease, you managed to get through the situation and possibly even thrived. Consider your victories in various areas of your life. Keep the small promises you make to yourself. Decide more often than you second-guess. All those behaviors will help you develop self-confidence, which will make you less afraid to be open and vulnerable.
- Practice Authentic Communication
You can begin practicing authentic communication once you have self-awareness and self-trust. The only way to have satisfying relationships is to be vulnerable enough to say what you really think and feel. When you see your partner multiple days in a row, you might be reluctant to admit that you need an evening to yourself out of concern for their feelings. But if you repress that need and keep it to yourself, you might become resentful and start a fight. On the other hand, being open and sincere might start a productive conversation that enables you both to talk about your needs and address them in the relationship. You might experience acceptance, being heard, and a stronger connection to your partner instead of resentment.
- Own Your Mistakes
Another easy and useful strategy for embracing vulnerability in relationships is to accept responsibility for your errors and extend sincere apologies when necessary. Stockhausen says “Rather than a weakness, being aware of and taking responsibility for how you impact your partner builds trust in a relationship. It also demonstrates emotional intelligence, personal responsibility, and empathy for the experience of others, which are all incredibly attractive traits.”
- Provokes Compassion
Keep in mind that you won’t always be the one showing vulnerability. You will occasionally be the one to watch as someone else expresses shame-inducing negative emotions. It is imperative that you exhibit compassion, understanding, and a willingness to either listen to the person who is suffering or simply be with them during these trying times. You are not doing it correctly if you switch the topic, provide a solution, or relate a personal experience that was comparable. You are avoiding vulnerability by acting in this way. Most of the time, people don’t want advice; they just want you to listen and understand them. Although it might be uncomfortable, you should be proud of your display of courage and vulnerability.
- It will Make You Feel Less Lonely
Acting like you are not vulnerable is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. In an effort to avoid disappointing those around you, you pretend to be something you are not, but studies show that this actually makes things worse. Paula Niedenthal’s research demonstrates that when people empathise with us too deeply, they can tell when we are being untruthful. They actually respond physiologically to fake behavior. Insincerity and our attempts to suppress our emotions, according to a study by James Gross, can raise someone else’s blood pressure. This could help to explain why we experience strange discomfort when around people we perceive to be fake.
Hopefully, the tips summarised here will help you realise the benefits of being vulnerable if you are struggling with showing vulnerability to others. Life will always involve some level of vulnerability. We can accept it rather than try to fight it, knowing that doing so will ultimately make our lives more fulfilling.
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