Vulnerability is no easy emotion to experience. In fact, most of us would have to agree that we tend to avoid it all costs. And, of course, most of us would be able to recall numerous occasions that we gracefully sashayed our way through a moment of vulnerability or two; however, all in all, most of us tend to avoid these situations when we see them coming. And this makes sense, because after all, this is an act of self-preservation, is it not?
Most of us have spent a great deal of our lives proving to ourselves and others that we value, strength, and character. We have worked hard to get where we are by aligning our strengths and confidences to overcome hardships and obstacles and trudge through the sloughs of wilderness that seem to be inherent to our human experience. As such, we have learned to maximize and rely on these virtues to thrive and survive, while taking care not to expose other parts of ourselves so that we may avoid our weaknesses and remain strong, sure-footed, and unequivocal. So, naturally, putting ourselves in a position to be vulnerable may feel foreign, counter-intuitive, and uncomfortable.
Yet, as we move through life, many of us come to discover that strength and vulnerability are not exactly opposites. On the contrary, vulnerability requires a great amount of courage, for being vulnerable is to be authentic despite our greatest fears. For vulnerability requires that we accept and embrace the parts of ourselves that we would rather ignore, change, or deny. In fact, by its very definition, vulnerability even takes this one step further and requires that we do so in the presence of others, forcing us to acknowledge these parts of ourselves, talk about them as they are, and claim them as our own. The very nature of vulnerability requires that we feel raw, unsure, and exposed, both with ourselves and others.
So, how do we evolve in the name of vulnerability, and allow ourselves to transform? Consider the following exercises:
Practice Self-Awareness: Begin this practice by simply being mindful of your feelings of vulnerability when they arise. Take note of what has triggered these feelings, ask yourself why they have arisen, and perhaps reflect on what you struggle to accept about these traits and why you would rather camouflage them.
Reveal Something: Revealing parts of ourselves can feel risky and vulnerable. However, in doing so, we unveil glimpses of our truest selves by sharing who we really are. By simply doing this, we encourage others to connect with us on a more intimate and fulfilling level.
State How You Feel. At That Moment: When you feel that you have lost your footing, find your voice and give a name to what you are experiencing. Not only is this transparency authentic and true, but it gives others permission to do the same.
Admit When You Are Wrong: Be accountable. Accept your mistakes. Forgive yourself. Then, move on. You may be surprised to learn that most others will follow your lead.
Own (and redefine) Your Weaknesses: Despite the fact that no one of us is perfect, admitting our “weaknesses” to others can take great strength. Yet, in doing so, we allow ourselves to be better supported by those that complement who we are and encourage our growth. .
Celebrate Your Imperfections: Allow yourself to be human. Know that sometimes it is more than enough to be “good enough”. Embrace your idiosyncrasies. Reconsider your perceived “weaknesses” as instead being your gifts.
And finally, fully accept all that you are, for that is heart of vulnerability, And even more so, that is authenticity.