ERP 114: How To Develop The Strength Of Vulnerability
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In episode ERP 112: What Makes Being Vulnerable So Hard?, I discussed why vulnerability is a difficult skill to develop. I talked about how vulnerability is a deceptively powerful ingredient within an intimate connection. I described some of the ways we get stuck and fight against being vulnerable. If you missed it, you can check it out here.
How are you with being vulnerability?
Do you let your partner in? Do you let them see your inner world…your weaknesses, your insecurities, your dreams, your longing? Do you let them feel you…feel your emotion?
Or do you hold it all together? Do you keep walls up? Do you avoid the opportunity for connection because you are afraid to reveal too much? Do you set aside your hurt, so that it cannot be seen? Do you hide your innermost thoughts, feelings, and wishes in fear that they might be rejected?
Most of us have been bombarded with messages about being independent, capable, and strong. We expect to be able to solve all of our own problems and be self-sufficient. And asking for help and support can often bring up deep feelings of shame because we believe we should be able to handle everything.
Take a moment, when you think of being “vulnerable,” what comes up for you? What is the first thing you think of? Being “weak.” “helpless.” “open.” “unprotected.”
When it comes to relationship, paradoxically vulnerability is a huge strength.
In Vulnerability the Key to Close Relationships, by Karen Young, she writes “Without vulnerability, relationships struggle. Vulnerability is, ‘Here I am – my frayed edges, my secrets, my fears, my affection. Be careful – they’re precious.’ In return, it invites, ‘Oh, I see you there. It’s okay, you’re safe. And here – here’s me.’ It builds trust, closeness and a sense of belonging. Relationships won’t thrive without it. Vulnerability is openness to experiences, people and uncertainty. It’s terrifying at times, and brave always.”
Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear stories, explanations, and examples.
How To Develop The Strength To Be Vulnerable
1. Redefine vulnerability.
Brené Brown, a professor and vulnerability researcher at the University of Houston has done a lot to bring the importance of vulnerability to mainstream awareness. If you haven’t seen her TED talks, I encourage you to check them out:
In Brené Brown’s best selling book “Daring Greatly,” she defines vulnerability “as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”
Vulnerability is like the feeling we get when we take a risk, step out of our comfort zone, and the outcome is uncertain (story).
Brené Brown teaches us that while doing something new may feel uncomfortable, it also opens us up to new opportunities. Conversely, turning away from the discomfort and challenge, can perpetuate feelings of loneliness, disconnection, and dissatisfaction.
2. Learn to accept some level of discomfort and uncertainty.
- Discomfort is natural and is a part of the process.
- It is okay to be nervous. It is okay to feel scared. Nothing is wrong.
“Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences,” Brené Brown
- When we do not accept our discomfort, we are likely to feel some level of shame or self-rejection.
3. Get connected with what is true for you.
- Check-in with yourself. Drop into a deeper place of feeling.
- Connect with what is real.
- Be honest. Be willing to feel.
- Ask yourself: What am I feeling?
- Ask yourself: What do I need and what do I want? (story)
- Feel your heart. Love your vulnerability and authenticity.
- Have your own back. Ignoring or sweeping emotions under the rug doesn’t make the vulnerability go away.
Vulnerability allows you to authentically express and it allows you to open your heart. Plus, the more you can connect with what is real for you, the easier it will be to share with someone else.
4. Set yourself up for success.
- An appropriate time and place: share with someone when they have the time and space to give you their attention and focus (not when they are running late and rushing out of the door).
- With whom to share: share with someone in your trusted inner circle. An Intimate partner. Best friend. Close family member (as you build strength, you may be able to be more transparent with people in general).
- To what level your want to share: practice revealing at different levels (you may want to share everything with your partner and just the abbreviated version with a family member).
- To be intentional about your sharing. Make space for heartfelt connection. Treat your vulnerability as a special gift.
“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” – Brené Brown
Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 114: : How To Develop The Strength Of Vulnerability [Transcript]
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If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.