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The Key to Better Relationships: Embracing Vulnerability

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

"Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure, and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process". ~Brene Brown

If you struggle to open up and be vulnerable with people in your life, take some time to reflect on why you feel compelled to protect yourself? What prevents you from connecting more deeply with yourself and in turn being a more connected, loving friend and partner.

We enter the world vulnerable but that all changes dependent upon the environment we grow up in. Vulnerability is not something we’re programmed to do with great ease and comfort. We need to learn it. And honestly, most of us don’t know how to be vulnerable.

Many view stoicism and “strength” as two of the greatest virtues. Humans go to extreme lengths to protect themselves from the many hurts they will inevitably endure. The problem is that our closest relationships are damaged by this. When we work so hard (often unconsciously) to protect ourselves from pain, we also limit ourselves to the kinds of love and connection that we truly want and need. And, if you believe you can compartmentalize, be forewarned that you really can’t. To one extent or another if you shut off one piece of yourself, you are also doing this to some degree in all places in your life.

Don't Rush

Be selective and hold back if your gut is sending you that uh-oh signal. Respect your intuitive instincts, the ones you are born with (but then socialized to ignore). Gut feelings are often right. Consider the people in your life and ask yourself how being more open with them could change the relationship for the better? Are there other people you know that your vulnerable self isn't safe with? There’s no need to remove those people from your life. They just aren’t the people to connect with when you are feeling raw.

Treat yourself with compassion and love. Ask questions of yourself like what do I like about myself? What parts do I struggle with? The key to getting comfortable with vulnerability is taking the risk of being vulnerable with yourself. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your greatness while also getting to know the parts of yourself that need additional work. You can’t expect to receive if you aren’t keyed in to all your own parts. Accepting and honoring our strengths along with our awkwardness and perceived weaknesses enables us to see the humanity in others. We can be imperfect with the ones we love.

Ask Questions

What is your definition of vulnerability?

Do you consider vulnerability a weakness?

Did your family model vulnerability by openly sharing their feelings?

Do you know anyone who takes the risk of being vulnerable?

Imagine your worst-case scenario of sharing. Then imagine the best-case scenario.

It will hurt if your efforts to share a vulnerable piece of yourself are ignored or rejected. But the relational gain when sharing is mutual, it can open up a new world of empathy, compassion, and authenticity. Go slow. Trust your gut. If your efforts go unnoticed, it’s not you. The person(s) you may be trying to connect with may not be ready or willing. Try again.


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