What are the Most Wonderful Perks of Vulnerability?

By Amy Leo

Vulnerability is a very interesting and much-discussed topic. It’s only recently that we started to think of it as a trait with a powerful potential. This is partly thanks to the work of the social psychologist Brene Brown (1).

When we look at the official definition of vulnerability it states the following:

-vulnerable: “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or being open to attack or damage.’’

Now let’s look closely at the meaning of that sentence. Basically, it means that when you are vulnerable you are in a position where, when somebody or something tries to hurt you, there is nothing you can do about it.

Doesn’t sound very desirable, does it? Well, of course there are many situations in which it’s good to avoid vulnerability if we can. That’s why we take loads of safety measures all the time. It’s the reason why we wear seatbelts in cars or why we try to stay away from other dangerous situations. We are wired to avoid physical and psychological vulnerability, and by doing so, sometimes we close up to the benefits that it offers.

1. Protective Power of Vulnerability

Many psychologists say that things like loneliness, rejection, humiliation and shame are some of the most destructive emotions a person can experience(2). Let’s slow down for a moment and think about what were the experiences that left you the deepest scars? Those moments were, likely, the ones had the biggest impact on how you view yourself and the world today.

These memories can easily leave you feeling like you are not being enough. Not being able to count on anybody to love you for who you are. That’s where the vulnerability comes in, it has the intention to isolate you from harmful situations and help you learn from the past experiences. Sometimes this learning process can be long and painful, yet it’s always worthy as you “get out on the other side” as a stronger, more adjusted individual.

2. Embraced Vulnerability Enables Authenticity

There is a phenomenon called Image Management (3). The idea behind it is that humans try to control the way they are perceived by controlling what they show of themselves.

Just take a look at Facebook. Do you ever see people showing their darker side? Their incredibly boring, weak, disturbed or pitiful parts? No, of course not! The only thing they show is their interesting face. The exciting part that nobody can reject them for.

Image management is the social equivalent of wearing a seatbelt. There is a growing tendency for us to apply it in every social situation, not only the ones in the digital world. Basically, that means we also take it to the relationships that are supposed to be about intimacy and surrender.

Be honest, how long does it usually take for you to show your worst to another person? How long do you wait before your “sugar-coat free” self gets to the surface?

Many times people say when, yet another relationship ends after a year or so, that the transfer from being in love to loving was not working, that too many fights started to occur or that the other didn’t turn out to be the person they expected him/her to be. What all of this actually means is that the relationship has been lasting too long for the defence mechanisms to be maintained. What you get is two defenceless egos fighting each other for the last bit of control. A fight that only knows casualties.

The lack of relationships is not even the worst side effect of the lack of vulnerability. By practicing this lack of vulnerability, you are basically being rejected by the most important person in your life- yourself.

Becoming willing to love and accept all parts of yourself, including your vulnerability enables you to be truly and fully authentic. It allows you to genuinely show up in this world and express all that you are inside/out without “sugar-coating” it.

3. Vulnerability as a Pathway to Your Inner Light

One of the most important psychiatrists and founders of “philosophy of human condition” that often spoke about this topic was dr. Jung. Carl Gustav Jung wrote about many things concerning the human psyche but what stand out of them is his conviction that every person has a light side and a dark side within (4).

Rather than to fight the darkness, you should learn to embrace it (5). To love it, since it is an essential part of you. You should be careful not to stop and mere acceptance of your “vulnerable darkness” but to go further, nurture it and build a relationship with it. It is not about not feeling anything bad but seeing the you-ness in those negative emotions (shame, loneliness, anger, fear, jealousy, insecurity, etc.).

Your vulnerable darkness will be your path for reaching a state on living your life through your inner light.

This isn’t only a step towards feeling love and acceptance towards yourself but also feeling the same towards others. If you recognize and accept certain dark aspects in yourself you will do the same towards those of others. You will learn to understand and embrace the other without fear of his or her dark sides. You will have the courage to step into an all-in connection.

The only kind that counts in the end.

4. Vulnerability Allows Unconditional Love

When we embrace our “sensitive side” we often manage to find peace with the fact that we are allowed to be imperfect. Vulnerability means showing the lesser parts of ourselves in full comprehension. That act might bring forth a risk of some people rejecting or disliking.

Still. By being brave to wholeheartedly offer others the genuine image of who we really are we are opening up the opportunity to be unconditionally loved and accepted for who we are. Firstly by our own self then by another human being.

5. Vulnerability can be Learned and Practiced

There are many self-help books, coaches and therapists aimed at helping you in embracing your vulnerability. But not all support has to be “professional”. You can start by talking more sincerely with your friends, partner and family about your deepest struggles, worries and dark secrets.

There are many informal self-development groups you can join. In such groups people exchange life experience and learn from each other. In such surroundings, it is the weakness, not the strength that brings people together. Our loving private Facebook group is one of those places:

Join the FB Group

One of the best tools you can find for exploring vulnerability is our 30 Days of Brave Challenge. We have a thoughtfully crafted daily session for you that will take you to the edge of those fears and gently nudge you to explore what’s on the other side. When you do explore that other side, you’ll be amazed at the world of opportunity that opens up for you as you see everything in a different light! Start it today, or better yet… get a friend to start it with you. We dare you ?

30 Days of Brave Challenge

As you can imagine, we all need loving support to grow.

Choose to embrace your vulnerability and surround yourself with support, you are the best person to do that!

(Read this next: 3 Reasons Why I Choose to Be Vulnerable)

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Amy Leo
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Amy Leo is a fellow human being doing the best she can. She is a three principles paradigm coach, singer-songwriter, and travel addict. With a background in social work and mental health education, she is passionate about alleviating human psychological suffering and travels the world sharing a simple, profound, and scientific truth of how our human minds can work for us, instead of against us...particularly when it comes to our relationships. She loves dogs, her Finnish fiancé (she is even learning Finnish to prove it!), and could put Tzatziki sauce on nearly anything.
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Rebecca
Rebecca

In Brene Brown’s work, she discusses what vulnerability is (revealing your heart to those who have already shown themselves worthy) and is not. People confuse vomiting their pain on every unsuspecting soul as “vulnerability”. It isn’t. Vulnerability is based on mutuality and trust. It’s not over sharing, it’s not purging… I mention this because a few weeks back, a woman I barely know from a social group, asked if she could come spend the weekend with me in the valley where I live, so she could see a different part of our state. Upon her arrival it became clear she wasn’t actually interested in seeing anything I had to show her, she began belching out every negative thing that had ever happened to her, all the disappointing people, all the people who in her opinion are not as intelligent and “evolved” as her… I listened to her for two full days before finally suggesting that I hoped one day she would be healed and not need to rehearse the painful stories of her past. I pointed out that while psychologist used to believe it was healing/purging to repeat painful stories, they now believe we actually re-traumatize ourselves in the verbal… Read more »

Laurie
Laurie

Vulnerability in the wrong company is dangerous

Sabrina
Sabrina

Over the past few years I have been overwhelmed by feeling lonely. In an effort to alleviate this I immersed myself in some volunteer work that ultimately led to an injury that completely changed everything I had access to. Exercise and socialization that I depended on for emotional health are gone. I am vulnerable now more so that ever in my life. Knowing that finds me isolating and feeling tremendous pain. Currently, I am so lost and hurt. Recent events have taught me how quickly other people will attack a vulnerable, lonely person reaching for comfort. Life and I have written another cautionary tale in the chapters of being around aggressive, negative people who thrive on drama.

Sonja
Sonja

I agree with you, Laure. It isn’t wise going around being all vulnerable all the time. That’s why we need to choose to be vulnerable with people who are close and important to us. And even if we “make a mistake” and open up to someone who doesn’t know how to cherish our precious gift of vulnerability it is a great feedback about the quality and potential of the relationship we have with that person.

I think it takes tremendous strength and courage to be able to be vulnerable so if you can do that in the first place I am confident that you’ll have enough resilience to “bounce back” and learn from your experience.

What would be your usual experience with vulnerability?

Diane
Diane

What a great write up and I am so thankful that I took a sabbatical from work over a year ago (50+age) and worked on this very topic with a wonderful guide. I continue to grow my practice in this area. Thank you!

Sandy
Sandy

Hi everyone! I know I’m way behind with my intentions. But I wanted to share an aha moment with you. All my life, I have spent my energy trying to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be…even though nobody actually told me what they expected. I’ve even spoken this out loud when I tell my story to others. Now, the moment of truth as I see it today…I would never allow myself to be vulnerable by showing my true self to ANYONE. The fear of being rejected has always been a part of me, and even though I have grown in my thoughts and actions in the past several years, just thinking about letting my true self be seen scares me. Definitely something I’m going to work on now. Thanks for this topic!

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