Feeling unloved and not accepted as a child created a deep sense of shame and unworthiness within me. As a result, I believed vulnerability was a weakness and I often isolated myself from others as a means of protection. I’ll go out on a limb and say perhaps some of you struggle with being vulnerable as well. Let’s face it being vulnerable isn’t easy and our culture perpetuates the idea that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. In all actuality however, vulnerability should be considered a strength.
Over the last few years I have done a lot of deep inner work. What I have come to grips with is that I am and always will be- a person who wears my heart on my sleeve. In all honesty, this kind of vulnerability keeps me grounded and rooted in my heart. Although others may view my vulnerability as weak or naive, I know being centered in my heart is what enables me to empathize and connect with others in a deep- meaningful way. For that I am grateful.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not always easy to occupy a space of complete openness. In fact, there are times when I struggle and have to remind myself that being vulnerable is a strength. When we interact with others who don’t occupy the same space of openness, compassion, and understanding that we do, it can be a challenge to express how we feel and communicate our needs. However, that’s when we need to muster up the courage and be vulnerable anyway.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Feeling safe enough to be vulnerable is key to building connections. When others see us speak our truth, they feel compelled to speak theirs. However, it does require courage!
HOW DO WE BUILD CONNECTIONS
First, we have to acknowledge that feeling vulnerable is universal. There isn’t a person I know who hasn’t had an experience where they felt humiliated, shut down or completely abandoned as a result of being vulnerable. While it can sometimes be painfully difficult, the truth is- in order to build connections we have to outstretch ourselves and allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
Brené Brown; a researcher who has studied human connection and our ability to empathize, belong, and love says, “in order to facilitate connection we have to be excruciatingly vulnerable.” She also says that when we numb our vulnerability, “we numb joy, gratitude, and happiness.” Brown’s research concludes three commonalities “wholehearted” individuals who are NOT afraid to be vulnerable share. These commonalities include: courage, compassion, and connection. Her research revals those who had courage to be imperfect, compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others were able to build authentic connections. She also noted that these individuals had a strong sense of worthiness and belonging which enabled them to fully embrace vulnerability.
YOU ARE WORTHY- WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY DOES MATTER
Without a strong sense of worthiness and belonging, seeing vulnerability as a strength does seem like a farfetched idea. From personal experience I acknowledge times in my life when a lack of self worth created circumstances where I felt like I didn’t belong. For some of us, it takes a lot of patience, inner work, and healing to strengthen our sense of worthiness and belonging. If you’ve ever had an experience that created feelings of guilt or shame, you know it takes time to accept and affirm that you are worthy…that what you have to say does matter.
Continually re-affirming your own value and self worth is essential; as is deepening your sense of belonging. The only way to deepen that sense of belonging is to let go of what others think, be authentic, and allow yourself to be seen. Of course there is never a guarantee you won’t be let down, or be pushed outside of your comfort zone but eventually you will begin to see vulnerability not as a weakness but a tremendous strength.
With love & light,