“Basically, vulnerability—when coming from a place of emotional and mental strength and stability—shows others that you aren’t afraid of who you are, so there is no reason for anyone else to pull back or be wary of getting close to you either. In short, being vulnerable is risky, which also makes it powerful and goddamn sexy. It is the elusive, magical ingredient that shows you are a real and perfectly imperfect human…” ~ Alex Myles, Elephant Journal
I’ve long been a person who wants to dive deep with those closest to me and those who intrigue me. I 100% believe that the most interesting thing about any of us is how our brain works, and I like to figure out what makes people tick, what their thoughts are on important topics, what values they operate by, what their love language is…basically their innermost thoughts and feelings. I’ve never been great at small talk and find most networking or “meet-new-people” events to be too stiff and awkward to really result in quality connections.
As I push myself to be more vulnerable, and in a way push those around me to be more vulnerable, I realize that not everyone wants to go there, and that’s okay. But my radar is turned up for finding others who are willing to practice vulnerability just by being the most unfiltered version of themselves. To be vulnerable is to be strong; to be vulnerable is putting yourself out there over and over, every day, through sharing your dreams, your thoughts, your desires, and what tugs at your heartstrings.
Vulnerability can be a turn off to others. They can think you’re overwhelming by sharing what your heart, mind, body and soul want and need. It can make them feel angry or embarrassed that they are too closed off or too scared to go after what they really want. Or some people have just decided that they don’t want to feel true closeness to very many (or any) people or express what they really want, because they’ve been hurt or jaded and have retreated as a form or protecting themselves from more heartache or disappointment.
When you meet someone who practices vulnerability, or witness someone already in your life practicing vulnerability, I hope you’ll show them support, even if you’re not ready to practice it yet. I have several friends who I’ve noticed practicing vulnerability much more openly in the last few years, and I am inspired every time I read an update of a goal their striving toward or a desire that they are sharing publicly. Because they are showing up for themselves and willing to be judged and maybe even ridiculed—even if it’s just behind closed doors and they never hear the negative reactions from people who are intimidated by their openness.
We all have innermost thoughts, feelings, fears, and desires that we often ignore or shove to the side because we think we need to focus on just getting through the day and handling the mundane aspects of being alive, while our soul craves so much more than just muddling though. “We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us,” Brené Brown says in her book Daring Greatly.
Who’s the person in your life that practices vulnerability the most? The one who brings up uncomfortable or out-there topics, shares her soul, and isn’t shy about putting out there what she wants and needs? Can you show them in some small way today that you see them, you hear them, you appreciate them? Because the brave souls who practice vulnerability and simultaneously encourage us to be more vulnerable too have anxiety about their vulnerability, experience self-doubt, and have days where they want to shut themselves off from the world. Yet, they come back the next day or week or month willing to be vulnerable all over again, and their choice to do so is a powerful thing to witness.
Check out Brené Brown’s TEDtalk about the power of vulnerability (with over 40 million views). One of my favorite takeaways: “Connection is why we are here; it’s how we’re wired neurobiologically.”
Now I’m off to watch Brown’s new Netflix special, Brené Brown: The Call to Courage.