One of the hardest things we can do in a personal or professional relationship is to let others see who we really are at our essence.
To do so requires us to be vulnerable, which can be extremely challenging.
In the corporate world, being strong, professional or business-like is expected of almost everyone. Any sign of us revealing our more real human-side can often be considered a weakness or even behaviour not suitable for a work environment.
However, the interesting thing is we connect with people on a much deeper level when we are authentic, real and being true to ourselves.
When we are vulnerable, there is the real possibility we may be ridiculed, rejected, humiliated, criticised or even get hurt emotionally. These possibilities often cause us to keep our guard up and put on a face of professionalism and give the appearance that everything is okay.
There is another more powerful side to vulnerability.
What is Vulnerability?
Vulnerability is the gateway to having deep, meaningful experiences and interactions with others. It is the place we allow ourselves to step into that may be risky, uncertain and require us to share aspects of ourselves that can be highly emotional.
In her TED talk in 2010, Brené Brown shared, after years of research, that what makes us vulnerable is what makes us beautiful. In order to be vulnerable, we must be willing to go first — to say, “Things are not working and let’s talk about what we can do together” or “I felt hurt when you said that to me.”
She goes on to say that vulnerability is at the core of shame and unworthiness, but it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love. It actually takes courage to be vulnerable.
Here are five reasons why being vulnerable is really powerful and the potential benefits that can arise as a result of doing so.
- It allows us to connect with people on a much deeper level. I find it quite amusing that so much of our conversations are “surface talk” like the weather, work, what we watched on television or what we had for dinner last night.
While there is nothing wrong with that, it very rarely enables us to get to know others for who they truly are at their core essence. By being willing to be vulnerable, it can also encourage others to do the same, which in the long run, will result in a much healthier relationship.
- It forces us to look at aspects of ourselves we may not have been willing to. It is common for people to try and numb their emotions. The problem with that is when we do, we actually numb everything.
Not only do we numb those feelings we don’t want to experience, we also numb out joy, passion, appreciation and gratitude. By sharing what is truly going on for us, we open the way for new experiences and emotions to come into our lives.
- It allows us to accept ourselves fully. We all have strengths and natural abilities but we also have weaknesses and flaws. By being vulnerable and accepting aspects of ourselves we haven’t fully developed, we start to accept ourselves as being worthy and also worthy of love, attention, compassion and joy.
- It opens the way for us to learn new things about ourselves, others and the world. Although it can be scary revealing ourselves to others, we will learn new things when we do. By allowing ourselves to be seen, it shows others who we really are and what we are capable of contributing to the world.
- It enables us to embrace the unknown. A key personal leadership principle is to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. When we embrace vulnerability, oftentimes we will not know what the outcome will be. Being in that space of not knowing will make us grow because we will start allowing whatever we need to experience into our lives.
To feel vulnerable is a sign that we’re alive and are facing the ups and downs of life. If we’re unwilling to be vulnerable when required, what we’re actually doing is restricting the flow of energy with and through us, which in turn can cause us to experience discomfort or pain.
While being vulnerable may cause some short term discomfort and pain, it will lead to living a much more authentic life over the long run.
As Brené Brown shared in her TED talk, “Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage… When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives and our work.” Therefore it pays to be vulnerable.
Question: What are other benefits of being vulnerable?
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