ERP 115: How to develop the strength of vulnerability – Part Two
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This is part two of “How To Develop The Strength Of Vulnerability.” If you missed part one, you can check it out here.
As a quick recap, in part one, I talked about how many of us have a negative association with vulnerability. We may even label vulnerability as bad and weak. Whereas, Brené Brown, through her research and teaching, helps us redefine vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”
When it comes to relationship, paradoxically vulnerability is a huge strength.
In ERP 114, I also offered 4 tips in How To Develop The Strength To Be Vulnerable:
- Redefine vulnerability
- Learn to accept some level of discomfort and uncertainty.
- Get connected with what is true for you.
- Set yourself up for success
Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear stories, explanations, and examples.
In working with a client, who is developing more strength in being vulnerable, he speculated that we have two choices:
- To shut down.
- To be open.
To help structure our conversation, I created this visual on vulnerability. This visual helps organize the different components of what is involved in being vulnerable with yourself and with others.
What does vulnerability look like?
Vulnerability in action.
- Having faith, even at the risk of looking like a fool.
- Investing in something that is meaningful to you, even if it means you might get disappointed.
- Putting your phone away. People have a tendency to use smartphones as a defense and protection tool.
- Taking a risk.
- In the article The Power Of Vulnerability: 5 Ways To Come Alive To Your Authentic Self, by Amber Rae, “Act with no guarantees. Ideas are safe. The idea of true love, the vision of a better world, the image of your perfect lifestyle. We can sit safely in our imaginations all day or we can fully commit to taking action, embracing the notion that we might fail or get hurt.”
How do people see you and feel you?
- Bringing up an issue. Expressing a need or desire.
- Sharing an opinion (in which you don’t know how well it will be received).
- Standing up for yourself (say “ouch”). Setting a boundary.
- Sharing your feelings. Sharing what is really true for you.
- In the article The Power Of Vulnerability: 5 Ways To Come Alive To Your Authentic Self, by Amber Rae, “Be real. If you’re scared, say you’re scared. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. If you made a mistake, say you made a mistake. If you feel hurt, say you’re hurt. If you’re in love, say you’re in love.”
- Sharing what you are afraid of. Sharing a fear or a shameful experience. (story)
- Apologizing (offering a sincere “I am sorry.”).
- Asking for help.
- Giving a genuine compliment (so often we avoid doing this because we are afraid of being awkward).
- Receiving a compliment.
As Brené Brown explains, vulnerability is about: “vacillating between I am here and I love you, and I’m going to reveal my innermost to you, and I am scared to death that you’ll reject me.”
What vulnerability offers:
- Feeling more connection with self.
- Feeling more connection with others.
- The opportunity to build more trust.
- The chance to get our needs meet.
In the article Why Being Vulnerable Is The Key To Intimacy by Emma Seppälä, she quotes Brené Brown “Show me a man who can listen to a woman and not try to fix her problem but rather just listen to her and be there for her, show me a woman who can sit with a man who shares this vulnerability and still love him the way he is, and I’ll show you a man and woman who are courageous and have done their work,” says Brown. “It’s about intention – ‘Can this be the safest place that we have: with each other, you can be afraid with me and I can be afraid with you.’”
How to develop the strength of vulnerability:
1. Find a starting point.
- Developing the ability to be vulnerable takes time, practice, and courage.
- Identify a few ways that you can practice being more open, honest, and vulnerable (see above for some suggestions).
- What makes you uncomfortable? What stops you from being vulnerable and intimate with your partner?
- Look for good models or examples. Try it out for yourself.
- Start small. Small steps lead to big changes.
- Take your time.
- Be gentle with yourself.
2. Learn to lean in.
- Focus on the value of being vulnerable.
- Engage. Turn towards instead of away.
- Be willing to be open.
- Muster the courage.
- Name it. See it. Acknowledge it. Share it.
- Be seen.
- Be available for connection.
- Take care of your heart.
3. Believe in your worthiness and the process.
- Your strength will build.
- You are worthy. You are lovable.
- Build trust in yourself and others.
- People want to help. Give them a chance.
- Connection is possible.
- As discussed in previous episodes, your feeling of safety, previous experiences, and your beliefs all impact your capacity to be vulnerable. Get support, if it would be helpful.
In the article, Vulnerability the Key to Close Relationships, by Karen Young, she writes “When we shut down our vulnerability, we shut down the possibility. There are no guarantees. There never have been. But what is certain is that we deserve more than to have our vulnerability – the greatest vehicle to connection – shut down by fear. We cannot guarantee the outcome, but we can have faith in our ability to cope with it. Living and loving with a vulnerable, open heart will bring its own rewards.”
The intimacy we yearn for will not develop on it’s own. It requires a willingness and an openness to connect with yourself and others. As explained by Brené Brown, people with a strong sense of love and belonging believe that vulnerability is a necessity.
“What is one practice step you can take to start developing the strength of vulnerability in your life?
Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 115: How to develop the strength of vulnerability – Part Two [Transcript]
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