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Cozied up on the couch listening to some late night jazzy tunes with my laptop and Bailey’s over ice in hand…. I feel like this is the perfect time for me to discuss a topic that some of us may have mastered and others, still try to avoid.
VULNERABILITY. Ahhhh, the term I love to hate and hate to love. Anyone with me on this?
As a personal development and empowerment coach, vulnerability is a trait and characteristic that is 1000% unavoidable. It is something that has to come off completely natural and nothing less of being authentic. There is a huge part of me that loves to wear my heart on my sleeve while being real and RAW with my emotions and feelings. Then there’s another part of me (at times) that feels I need to literally put one hand over my mouth and the other on my chest to stop myself from saying and feeling “too much” or appearing “too weak.” How do you find the right balance before you feel like you lose complete control?
First of all, I think we need to accept that being able to open ourselves to others is what allows us to connect, create and maintain healthy friendships and relationships. It’s what makes us human. We often fear being vulnerable because we don’t know how people will perceive us afterwards. I always think of the big macho men who walk around all strong with hard shells looking all “manly,” but behind closed doors, they’re soft, lovable and gentle beings. I can say the same for some women as well. Why is that?
I think putting on a show can be really easy, especially if you’re wanting to protect your real identity. On the outside, we may mould ourselves to be a person we think others want us to be or others think of us to be. In doing this however, we deprive ourselves of the multifaceted human beings we’re meant to be.
I read this quote once that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” This is SO true. When we can let go of shame and our own egos and really learn to embrace our differences and range of emotions, we can learn to be better at understanding our own worth and thrive off what makes us, well you…YOU. Everyone has weaknesses, imperfections, and struggles. Hell, we are all kind of weird in our own ways too. I think sometimes it’s really difficult to accept our own flaws, but it makes it easier to do when we understand that people naturally connect, and relate more with those who have and embrace their own weaknesses.
For a long time, I struggled with perfectionism. I grew up in an environment where I was constantly praised for my achievements, so I always felt the need to perform and deliver nothing less than what was expected of me. I had to maintain my grades, be well mannered, follow the rules, please everyone, and be well rounded in extra curricular activities. Although I am grateful for my past experiences and I’ve learned quite a lot, as I grew older, striving to always be a certain way became exhausting. I remember at one point, I literally felt so burnt out and forgot why I was so involved and was doing everything I was doing in the first place. Was I really trying to make myself happy? Or was I doing it to please others? Was I doing it to prove who I was and what I was capable of?
Perfectionism is a hustle. It’s a way of life, and in actuality not the key to success. When I learned to embrace the fact that there were and still are plenty of things I am not great at, I no longer strived for perfectionism, rather became obsessed with self development, and healthy striving. In order to go through self awareness and development, I had no choice BUT to embrace my vulnerabilities. I had to be okay with not knowing if I was going to win or lose. I had to hit and strike out repeatedly, over and over and over again before I was able to develop a feeling of true acceptance, self-compassion and resilience.
I was absolutely terrified that others would discover that maybe I wasn’t so great, but that way of thinking was toxic, unhealthy, and it was ALL in my head. At the time, I had attached my self worth to what I was able to present to society, but that’s not what vulnerability is about— not even in the slightest.
Vulnerability is an act of bravery. If you can learn to master cultivating self-love, the more confidence you will have in your own self which will then in turn make it much easier to acknowledge, and embrace your vulnerability. Being vulnerable only empowers us to love deeper. It promotes well being and challenges us to grow and become stronger. It allows us to be more authentic with ourselves and with others and creates opportunities that would have otherwise been missed had one not been open to the idea of exposing themselves in the first place.
So how do you learn to embrace vulnerability? I think the three biggest take aways are:
1. Know Your Worth & Accept That You're Worthy
When you love and appreciate yourself FIRST, the rest will follow. How are others supposed to believe in you or know how to treat you when you don’t hold that standard that you are worthy of love, positivity, and to be treated with respect?
2. Resist the Urge to Put Up Walls
This comes with time, but know that giving yourself permission to experience ALL range of feelings and emotions as a result of your vulnerability will be something that will become very natural to you and will help you handle other situations in the long run regardless if they’ve made you happy, sad, angry or excited. You’ll also be more confident later down the road, knowing that you can deal with any outcome, NO MATTER WHAT.
3. Realize That Through Inaction, You’re Only Hurting Yourself, & the Chance to Be Ultimately Happy
We seem to believe that we’re protecting ourselves by closing ourselves off, but really, by not taking chances and not allowing yourself to feel transparently, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. By allowing yourself to feel vulnerable you already have a 50/50 chance that will bring you closer to happiness. I don’t know about you, but that’s much better than ZERO.
Just think of the wonderful times and be grateful for the moments that brought you closer to your own happiness and remember how you felt in those exact moments. Trace back to the steps you had to take to get there. What feelings and emotions did you have to allow to pass through your head, your heart and entire body? I bet being vulnerable played a tiny role. I am forever grateful for my ability to embrace my entire being…the good, the bad and the ugly. I hope you can find it in you too, to do the same.
Lots of hugs,