Think of yourself as being vulnerable when sharing how you feel. Do you see this as a weakness? Most people do.
Now think of someone else being vulnerable. One example, someone asking for help. Or people sharing their stories on stage, like in TED talks. Most likely you feel that they are brave.
This blog is about why we have a fear of being vulnerable, how you can overcome this, and what it has brought me.
Vulnerability is the key to connection.
Being vulnerable is something terrifying, but it is also very courageous.
In the example above, the difference between them and (most of) us is that they used their vulnerability to go after what they believe is important for them, to show up and to grow. Because they feel and know that vulnerability is the way to increase connections and to provide value to others.
Fear of being vulnerable
This speaks about the fear of having our desires being unfulfilled, not being taken seriously, or being rejected.
We all avoid to certain extent situations where we might get hurt, even if that injury is not yet perceived and psychological.
We have expectations based on previous stories and life experiences. And our ego wants to protect us from future negative experiences. Overthinking possible outcomes can further limit us from being vulnerable.
What we know about vulnerability
Brené Brown is an expert in the field of vulnerability. As an academic research professor she studied the difference between the underlying reason for fear of vulnerability. Which appeared to be shame; shame as the feeling of not being worthy of love and belonging.
Her research shows that people having a strong sense of connection, love and belonging believed they were worthy of it. People who believed they were worthy of connection experienced greater connectedness.
So keeping people at a distance feels like self-protection, but does not help you in establishing connections in the long run.
How to overcome the fear to be vulnerable
Increase your awareness
Letting people in starts with self- awareness. Keep track of what you are feeling, notice your emotions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Each of those is a clue about what is important to you. Raise awareness about your values, what it is that you really want.
Listen to your heart
Listen to and move towards your intuition. Move towards what you want and be vulnerable and live with courage. Living with your heart means you will feel when there’s something missing, and you realize that it doesn’t have to stay that way.
If you had no fear or shame, what would you do? Would you tell someone you love them? Or ask someone just to listen to you without judgment or aiming at providing a solution? Would you change jobs, or follow your passions?
Yes, there might be disappointment and rejection, but you can trust that you will be able to deal with it when it happens. Feel that it is harder to live with the permanent idea that you will not get what you want because you have fear of letting your guard down and be vulnerable enough.
Question your beliefs.
Sometimes we are limited by our own beliefs. That we cannot change a situation because of others or because things have been like that all the time. Ask whether this is still true for you and whether it is what you really want.
Lean into the magic that can unfold when you open up and let go of the beliefs that do not serve you anymore.
Embrace your vulnerability
As explained by Brené Brown in TED talks, people with a strong sense of love and belonging believe that vulnerability is a necessity. The key to connection is being courageous to open up, to give and to receive. Without judgment, expectations. Be in the present moment and be empathic.
My experience with vulnerability
Is being vulnerable is worth it? My answer is a definitive YES. Since I started listening to my heart, stopped overthinking, and identifying my limiting beliefs, I opened up and let others in.
I was vulnerable in starting these blog posts. In sharing my life story with others. Telling them about my awakening last year. All these steps were terrifying. But it has increased the connections with others tremendously! And I am so grateful for that.
My next challenge lies in sharing emotions in real life. Being emotionally vulnerable is still a huge issue for me though…
My analytical brain is holding me back, as I (still) perceive sharing emotions as being weak. And it is not easy to break that wall, and definitively not overnight.
But brick by brick…I am learning from others like Brené Brown and my confidence is growing. I feel already that it will be worth it.
How about you? Do you dare to be vulnerable? Please let me know in the comments.