Being vulnerable does not mean that you are weak, quite the opposite it means that you are strong and not afraid of letting people see you. Being vulnerable for some might feel as though you are being exposed or raw, letting people see what is personal or private. It takes courage to be vulnerable.
So what is the fear around vulnerability?
We could be wounded or hurt by others.
We could open ourselves to criticism or ridicule.
For these reasons alone most of us run in the opposite direction instead of being vulnerable.
What if we didn't run, instead we took little steps toward being brave and truthful with ourselves?
What would that feel like?
Authenticity goes hand in hand with vulnerability because to be honest with yourself means you can go into that place where it meets vulnerability.
Let me illustrate with an example of a client with whom I worked:
Sarah (not her real name) met with a group of her friends at the same restaurant for dinner each month. Sarah did not really like the place that they met at but did not want to rock the boat because everyone else really liked it, so she went along with it even though she didn't like the cuisine or the restaurant. Sarah was a very accommodating kind of person and she thought of herself as likable and kind so it was fine if she just kept quiet.
Sarah found that in many areas of her life she would accept other peoples suggestions without really considering her own needs. When I met Sarah her boundaries were almost non existent. She believed it was good to accommodate others because that would mean that she was likable. As we worked together she began to understand the difference and set healthy boundaries for her, to show her why her voice was important in her relationships. She had to be honest with herself and admit that she was not happy not having her voice heard whilst everyone else's was!
Next she had to understand why it was important to create these healthy boundaries and have a say. Sarah found it hard to be vulnerable and tell her friends that she did not want to go to that restaurant anymore and I suggested that she could offer a suggestion of a new place. This took courage for her to speak up and be vulnerable. She was afraid of the rejection and criticism she might receive but she had come to a point of understanding and knew that if she carried on in the same way as before she would not be happy.
She took the plunge and decided to be vulnerable and feel the fear and speak up anyway. Her friends were a little surprised at Sarah speaking up because she seldom did but they were happy to try out the new restaurant that Sarah suggested. This gave Sarah the courage to be vulnerable and speak up for herself in other areas of her life too. Her little steps began to pay off and she found that she was living more authentically.
There are many ways in which we can be vulnerable.
To be vulnerable is also to ask for help when you need it.
To say no when something does not feel right for you.
Being vulnerable for me is also sitting to write my thoughts or share my opinions in the blogs that I write. I open myself to criticism, judgement and rejection but I have also come to realize that it is not my job to worry about what others think of me but it IS MY JOB to worry about what I think of me!
I love this quote from one of my favorite authors -
"So long as you do no harm to another, change your opinion once in a while.
Contradict yourself without being embarrassed.
This is your right.
It doesn't matter what others think -because that's what they will think, in any case."
- Paulo Coelho
Until the next time,