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
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:
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 ?
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)