The Power & Magic of Being Vulnerable
Everyone wants to feel loved, connected, happy and alive, yet many don’t realize vulnerability is one of the key components to achieving this. As well, many struggle with vulnerability issues in relationships. Being vulnerable is how intimate and deeply loving relationships and friendships can flourish. It is at the core of LOVE since trust and vulnerability go hand in hand.
What Is Vulnerability?
What it means to be vulnerable with someone 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. Being vulnerable with someone 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.
Vulnerability Can Help You Find Your Team
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.
Other Words and Research on Vulnerability
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.
Why Is Vulnerability Scary?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.
Top Reasons Why We Avoid Being Vulnerable
- Fear of getting hurt.
- Fear of being used or exploited.
- Fear of rejection.
- Fear of being judged as less than or inferior.
- Fear of being laughed at or ridiculed.
- Feelings of shame or embarrassment.
- Incomplete with a past experience or event.
- Being stuck.
- Feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness.
- Fear of losing your money or assets. * Addressed below*
Cautionary TaleI 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.
Benefits of Being Vulnerable
- It’s the one thing that will help you get more LOVE in your life both romantic and platonic.
- It makes it easier to make instant connections with people.
- It makes it easier to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships because it’s the foundation of intimacy.
- Freedom – if you have the ability to be vulnerable then you have the practices, habit, and characteristics to be more freed up in life and have LESS anxiety, fear, and worry.
- It’s a very powerful way to live life.
- You will have more friends because of #2 and #3 above.
- You will have better health because you will have less anxiety, fear, and worry.
- You will have a stronger sense of peace.
- You will experience less loneliness because of #1, #2, #3, and #6.
- It can change your life in an extremely positive way.
- You will feel more connected.
- You will feel deep love and intimacy.
- You will feel more happy and alive.
- People will be drawn to you for your vulnerability.
- It’s definitely way more fun to be authentic, open and real.