Everyone wants to feel loved, connected, happy and alive, yet many don’t realize vulnerability is one of the key components to achieving this. It’s how intimate and deeply loving relationships and friendships can flourish. It is at the core of LOVE.
What it means to be vulnerable is to be able to share your heart openly with people that you know and sometimes even strangers. It means being able to connect with people at a very deep level. It gives life meaning that is simply not possible without it. Part of vulnerability is openness and authenticity, which are extremely important facets of life to me and are a natural expression of who I am in the world.
When I say ‘the magic of vulnerability’, what I mean is to be able to walk around in life being your authentic and true self – you as you really are – relating to others and being with people without worrying if they like you or not. It means being alive and free of anxiety and constant worry. It gives you an extraordinary sense of peace, joy, and love. It is absolutely magical and extremely powerful.
Long before concepts like self-esteem and vulnerability were a “thing” some of us were walking through life being vulnerable as a natural expression of who we are. To be able to simply be who you are is beyond freeing. It allows for a childlike wonder. It is the most awesome thing in the world and so necessary for you to feel and give love.
Back in late 2018, I ran across some pictures from high school and college. I tough, gee I should post these to my private Facebook page? So, over a month or so I posted a few pictures every day and it was a real hoot! Facebook friends of mine saw pictures of themselves from their youth that they had never seen before. It was a fun and a very rich walk down memory lane. What started out as the innocent sharing of pictures, so that the people could download the pictures and have them, morphed into me sharing personal information – a.k.a. me being vulnerable about what I was dealing with at the time.
As a result of me sharing myself with no shame and no apologies, I was able to richly relate to new people. I received tons of fantastic suggestions and advice. I got reconnected to people I used to know back in the day. I made new friends that I see almost weekly now. All this happened because I was vulnerable in sharing my life and some (note not all) of my circumstances.
It became apparent to my Facebook friends that I don’t have this “perfect” life. It actually became obvious to them that I have some pretty difficult circumstances to deal with on a regular basis. As a result, people started putting themselves on my team – a team that I didn’t even ask for with the hashtag #TeamLisa. It was quite moving.
Were there criticisms? Of course! Were some people rolling their eyes? For sure! Did I care? No. In the sharing of myself and my circumstances, I was being vulnerable. People could relate to what I was going through. People could identify with me even if their situations were very different. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being comfortable with who you are and what you are up to. While most people would never be so vulnerable in a social media format, it has worked for me in so many ways. I would do it all over again.
Prolific writer C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, also wrote many nonfiction books about vulnerability and love. For example, in his The Four Loves book (1960), he says:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Currently, Brenè Brown, a research professor at the University of Huston, has spent over two decades studying shame, empathy, vulnerability and courage. She is the leading author and speaker on vulnerability, having many excellent and bestselling books on the market. Her 2010 TEDx talk on vulnerability is one of the most viewed TED talks with over 40 million views.
She brings subjects like shame and vulnerability into the public arena. And while she has so many phenomenal quotes on vulnerability, this is the one that speaks the loudest to me:
“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”
I assert that the traits necessary for being vulnerable are some of the same characteristics that are required for you to have a life that you LOVE. And I am all about having a life that you LOVE. I am pretty much an over-the-top fan of LOVE in any capacity. Love your friends, love your family, love what you do, love your life and everything in it. Or at least as much as you can. You might not be able to remove some people or things in your life, but you can still have a pretty happy and joyous life. Trust me. I know. Vulnerability is critical.
If vulnerability is so crucial, why do so many people avoid it? It’s scary.
For the majority of human beings we are simply not wired to be vulnerable. We have had too many hurts, wounds, and bad experiences to walk around with our hearts wide open to the world. To be vulnerable does mean taking a risk that you will be rejected for who you are. I understand that all too well.
In order to have vulnerability, you have to be okay with rejection. This is hard to accept, but will certainly allow you to be around people who love you for who you are – with all of your imperfections. As well, you will be able to know your friends and family for who they are. Not what they do. Not what they have. Just who they are as human beings.
Here are more reasons why we avoid vulnerability.
There is no question that if you open your heart, you might get hurt, used, or exploited. It’s possible you could be rejected, judged, laughed at or ridiculed. Some people are not who they say they are – even if you meet them through someone you know and even sometimes if they are highly recommended by someone you know. Some people just never let you know who they really are, which is one of the risks you take.
You have to weigh the benefits of vulnerability with the risks. You have to consider what you want in your life. If you want love and friendships, then that involves some risk.
It’s even possible that you could lose your money or assets. However, in this day in age pre-nuptial agreements and other legally binding contracts are made to prevent you from losing your money and assets. I just happen to be of the opinion that this fear is extremely reasonable and is one that can and should be handled by a pre-nuptial, legally binding agreement. I know that some of you can and will disagree with my stance on this, which is fine. It happens all the time that both men and women lose significant amounts of money and assets due to relationships gone bad, and for that reason alone it’s reasonable to handle that fear with a legal document. I would have serious questions about anyone unwilling to sign a pre-nuptial or other legally binding document handing the protections of either party’s assets. Why would you not want to protect someone else’s money or assets? I say that having lost significant money in prior relationships, so I might be biased.
I can’t write about being vulnerable without making some mention of con men and women, predators, narcissists and psychopaths. They do exist in our society: 1 out of 100 people fit the bill for psychopaths with many more being con artists, predators and narcissists. Even when you do your due diligence and meet people through friends or business contacts, you might have the great misfortune of getting involved with a con artist, a predator, a narcissist or God forbid – a full blown psychopath.
It happens to people of all professions and walks of life. Full blown psychopaths can be dangerous. This isn’t to scare you, but encourage all of us to have more understanding about psychopaths. Education is power and can prevent you from falling victim.
The premier expert in psychopaths Dr. Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist, developed what is called “The Psychopath Checklist” (PCL). The Psychopath Checklist was later refined into the Psychopath Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) and sometime later a screening version was released known as the Psychopath Checklist-Screening Version (PCL-SV). Dr. Hare’s PCL-R and PCL-SV are the gold standard as a diagnostic tool for psychopaths according to research.
I found the PCL-R and PCL-SV online when I was researching psychopaths a few years ago. I found it extremely helpful as a layperson to see a copy of these tools. I used the PCL-SV to score a person I was dealing with. That person got just below a perfect score on the test. Above a certain test score means an increased likelihood of violence.
If you are dealing with a person who you suspect could be or might be a psychopath, look up the PCL-SV or PCL-R online. We should all understand the criteria of what makes up a psychopath, in the case that our vulnerability leads to us meeting someone with ill intent.
What is important is that when you do the work on yourself, you do not have to end up with your spirit crushed.
Even though what I have been through is horrific in every way and was extremely painful, I am a better person for what I have been through. I STILL choose to be vulnerable. Why? Because the benefits to feeling love and being able to give and receive love are too extraordinary for me to pass up.
Here are the benefits to vulnerability that make it extremely valuable and impossible to not work on.
When I looked up the definition for vulnerability and vulnerable – I would run too if I wasn’t so clear about the absolutely compelling benefits of vulnerability and the gifts it gives me in my everyday life.
The definition of vulnerable as an adjective is to be susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. The definition of vulnerability, a noun, is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed either physically or emotionally. Is it any wonder that people flee the scene when it comes to being vulnerable?
Now that you know the benefits of being vulnerable, find out how you can start building the characteristics of vulnerable people.
Be clear about who you are in the world without apology.
There’s no room for perfectionism if you are living a real and authentic life. In practicing self-love and self-acceptance you can be more comfortable sharing yourself with others.
It’s an act of courage and bravery to be vulnerable UNTIL you grow and develop yourself to the point where it is a natural expression of who you are.
Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is an act of vulnerability. We all want to be loved and appreciated. We all have hurts, wounds and pain. We are all doing the best that we can. When you come from a place of the human condition, it seems to me that it takes a lot of pressure off of you.
Bit by bit, give yourself opportunities to open up a little and practice being vulnerable with people in your life. The more you work on yourself the easier it will be to allow yourself to be vulnerable.
You can’t be authentic and real if you are not present. Being present is an important ability or trait for living an amazing life. Be in the moment. Be here now!
Anything you do to increase your self-esteem will go a long way to helping you become more vulnerable.
This will help you to look and feel better.
If you spend your time and energy on your life and making it the best life possible you will not care nearly as much about what other people think or say about you. Drive your life fully and completely and a great deal of issues and problems will resolve themselves. Take on the practice and habits that give you a life that you love in time management, planning your life, having fun, making friends and pretty much everything that I blog about.
This builds the muscles of courage and overcoming fears.
You want a life filled with love, joy, happiness and freedom. You want to feel alive and connected. You want to have an easier time in life. Vulnerability can help you get there.
How guarded or vulnerable are you as you go through life? Are you willing to take a chance in life – take a calculated risk – for all of the benefits that feeling love, having friends or a romantic relationship has to offer you?
I assert that if you do the work to have self-confidence, be open to life, drop the need for perfection, be able to laugh at yourself, be present, and have compassion for yourself and others that you would find being vulnerable not as difficult.
If you do the work to have those traits or characteristics, perhaps being vulnerable will start to come easy. It could become a natural expression of who you are in the world. Where are you with being vulnerable? Can you do it? Are you willing to be vulnerable? What is stopping you? How can I help you? Let me know!
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Table of Contents Do You Have these 8 Things That Will Help You Flourish in Life Regardless of What Happens? Hint: It’s not too late