Feeling vulnerable is something that most of us usually avoid like the plague. I know that I am not alone in being scared to show my inner-most thoughts and feelings to the world. Even the very thought of it makes me feel exposed. The problem is, I know deep down that vulnerability is the path towards an authentic and fulfilling life. I truly believe that it leads to deeper connections with people and therefore better relationships in general. Sometimes I ask myself, ‘what is the worst thing that could happen by opening up?’ My subconscious mind usually replies with words such as shame, embarrassment, rejection or ridicule!
Brene Brown talks a lot about vulnerability and has spent hours researching its effects. She states that the secret to happiness is to put yourself out there and let yourself be seen, warts and all. This is easier said than done, and is something I am still working on.
When I first started recording my guided visualisations, and started writing this blog, I didn’t tell a single person apart from my partner and children. Instead of looking at the bigger picture, I kept fixating on what certain individuals would say if they listened to my audio clips or read what I was writing. For some reason, all the reactions I imagined were negative! One of the ways I got over this was to start by telling one trusted friend. Her encouragement and support spurred me on to tell other people and suddenly the spell was broken. Before long, I was telling anyone who would listen and it felt really liberating. So, my advice, if you have something to say, or want to tell people how you really feel – just do it. The reaction is never as bad as the one you have imagined.
In fact, when you put yourself out there, you actually gain people’s trust (and often their admiration) more easily. They feel that you are being honest and authentic and will be more likely to be honest in return. When you admit, for example, that you are petrified of speaking in public, lots of people around you will breathe a sigh of relief and confide that they feel exactly the same. It makes you more human and can deepen your personal relationships.
Showing vulnerability also helps us to be more empathetic towards other people. They might not always behave or act the way we’d like them to, but we can be more understanding of their imperfections. We can show more compassion when we realise that everyone experiences difficulties, and that they are also just trying to do their best. When people show their perceived weaknesses, we feel like we know them better and this again creates more intimacy.
Think of something that you have been wanting to say to someone, or share with them, for a while. If it helps, write it down on a piece of paper and then tell them. This usually takes some of the fear out of it. Ring them, text them, write to them, or go and see them, but do it quickly before you change your mind. Don’t spend too long trying to make it sound perfect in your head, just say something. If I have a difficult conversation to have with someone, I usually just blurt something out quickly like, ‘I’ve got something on my mind’. By doing this, it means you can’t chicken out as you have started the ball rolling. After that, a dialogue has to take place because they want to know what you have to say.