How to Improve Your Quality of Life by Being Vulnerable
Is showing Vulnerability a strength or a weakness?
Does stepping into openness about who we REALLY are result in a higher quality life?
Are we better off when we choose into REVEALING what’s going on inside our minds and hearts?
Many people ponder these questions.
What do you think?
A number of us face an ongoing struggle around whether to choose to be vulnerable, or not.
A battle around deciding to be seen only for our light –
Or for all our darkness — errors, flaws and all.
We might choose into Vulnerability and Authenticity-
If the situation is right.
If we feel good about ourselves.
If we’re speaking to someone we feel safe with.
If we know we won’t lose part of ourselves.
Why is it such a debate?
What stops us from being truly vulnerable and authentic ALL the time?
I would like to suggest that people want to be open, honest and vulnerable.
However most are AFRAID.
We have a fear of being judged, laughed at, or even worse.
Having people turn their backs on us and run the other way.
It’s happened to me and I know it’s happened to many (if not all) of us.
We find ourselves in a situation where we choose to be vulnerable.
We connect with a new friend, sharing secrets from our past.
We choose to reveal deep feelings in a budding romantic relationship.
We step into having a conversation with a co-worker who said hurtful words.
We decide to have open, honest communication with a parent who has been absent for years.
It can look all sorts of different ways.
The main idea is that we choose to reveal parts of ourselves — our brokenness, sadness, weakness and insecurities. This can often bring up anxiety inside us because we have no idea what the response is going to be.
So being that vulnerability can bring up stress in us, is it the best choice?
When we choose into being vulnerable, what place are we acting from?
The desire to elevate or the desire to downgrade our lives?
How Could Vulnerability Downgrade Our Lives?
When I chose to be vulnerable in the past, I opened myself up to ridicule and unacceptance.
I stepped into a place of becoming very uncomfortable at times and leaving myself exposed.
I have been vulnerable in the past and I have felt extremely fragile.
This made me feel very weak, especially if the person receiving my vulnerability took advantage of me or just didn’t care.
Notice, I said that it ‘made me feel weak’ when I didn’t get the response I desired.
Where did that feeling come from?
It came from the way I chose to feel about someone else’s reaction.Their response determined how I felt.
Is that the right way to live?
Is that what we want?
Does it serve us to think that way — to base our feelings about ourselves on someone else’s feedback?
Do we desire to live our lives grounded on what other people think?
Why do we care so much?
As I reflected, I figured out why I did.It was because I didn’t love myself.
I looked outside myself for reassurance and confirmation that I was doing it all right.
If I got a ‘thumbs up’ I felt good.
If I got over 100 likes, I was enough.
If people saw me as strong and capable, I was accepted.
If I said and did all the right things, I would be loved.
I certainly didn’t want anyone to see my darkness, believing they might give the ‘thumbs down’ and I would feel bad about myself.
Was that a good way to live?
At the time, I didn’t know how to be any different.
I struggled with this for many years because I didn’t want people to see me.
I wanted to hide who I was and appear put together so that people would like me.
I didn’t want to expose my true self with all my flaws, leaving myself open to ridicule.
So I played it safe — and suffered for it.
I never felt comfortable with myself.
I didn’t take risks, so I never played full out.
I shied away from opportunities because I thought I wasn’t good enough.
I missed out on many great friendships and relationships because I would rather push people away then have them see me.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this all came from a place of weakness.
It was born from a place of not good enough, less than and believing lies about what people would do if they really knew me.
Do you recognize yourself in any of this?
Once I understood what I was doing, I made a choice to start sharing and let go of the way people reacted.
“I firmly believe that being vulnerable with a larger audience is only a good idea if the healing is tied to the sharing, not to the expectations I might have for the response I get.” –Brené Brown
It changed my life.
It may help to change yours too.
How Can We Elevate Our Lives Through Vulnerability?
Being vulnerable allows us to Rise.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” –Brene Brown
Vulnerability does leave us exposed to many things that may hurt us.
It requires openness to whatever comes our way.
Often, it can make us feel very unsafe and unsure.
So when we choose to become vulnerable, how does it elevate our lives?
1. When we are completely authentic, we hide nothing and feel free.
2. It opens the door for others to be vulnerable too.
3. It takes a strong, capable, confident person to choose into it.
4. Vulnerability = Courage
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” –Brené Brown
It takes someone who desires to live out their purpose so much that they are willing to put aside others’ opinions and be real.
It takes guts to be able to open ourselves up to other people’s possible judgments and condemnation.
It takes a lot of heart and soul to say, “I am choosing to be exposed and show who I truly am, and I’m satisfied with the way things turn out”.
It takes a strong mind to understand that when people don’t respond in a positive way, it has nothing to do with us and everything to do with them.
The truth is, some people are so uncomfortable with vulnerability that they will walk away, simply because they can’t be vulnerable themselves.
That says nothing about us and everything about them.
This was a HUGE realization for me.
Stepping Into Power
One transformational day I finally saw what I was doing and decided to choose into vulnerability.
I was scared and chose into it on purpose because I knew I couldn’t stay in my self-made shell anymore.
I was in physical pain because I was holding so much stress inside, so I let go and let God.
I opened myself up and decided that if people turned their back on me I would deal with it and I would be okay.
If someone chose out, I would survive.
It came from a place of strength.
“We are at our most powerful the moment we no longer need to be powerful.” –Eric Micha’el Leventhal
I was so strong and my heart was full already so I didn’t need others to fill me up.
I learned to love myself enough so I could handle what came my way.
I began to take risks, lean in, love deeper, surrender fully and let who I was on the inside shine.
I chose to stop hiding my past — the stuff I didn’t want to share.
“Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy — the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” –Brené Brown
I gained courage and stepped into ownership around my weaknesses and struggles.
I brought my “stuff” into the light so it could be healed.
Was it always easy? No.
Am I stronger for it? Absolutely.
I have never been so strong!
And you know what’s interesting — people didn’t leave or judge me.
In fact, the opposite happened — my relationships deepened.
The stress in my body went down tremendously
My body, mind and soul felt FREE.
I stepped into authenticity and saw amazing results in my life — results that I would never have seen if I stayed in my shell and protected myself.
What Do You Want Your Life to Look Like?
We are all trying to do the best we can to live a life that makes us happy.
I believe we all want the same basic things — to feel loved and accepted.
The ultimate way to feel those things is by locating your sense of well-being within and choosing to be the authentic you.
“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. the new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open.” -Stephen Russell
Then you can be free to choose to be vulnerable, open and honest.
How to Live in True Authenticity
So you’ve decided that choosing into Vulnerability and Authenticity is the way you want to go.
Now what does it really mean?
What it Means to be Authentic:
— to be more concerned with truth than opinions
— to be sincere and not pretend
— to be free from hypocrisy: “walk your talk”
— to know who you are and to be that person
— to not fear others seeing your vulnerabilities
— being confident to walk away from situations where you can’t be yourself
— being awake to your own feelings
— being free from others’ opinions of you
— accepting and loving yourself
― Sue Fitzmaurice
It’s your choice — it always is!