When we talk about vulnerability, it is often in a negative way. We associate vulnerability with emotions such as fear, shame, sadness. We think of isolation, disconnection, and exposure. But from vulnerability also stems love, courage, hope, compassion, understanding, joy, belonging. When we avoid being vulnerable to protect us from the emotions that we do not want to feel, we also numb ourselves to the emotions that we do want to feel. Vulnerability is neither good nor bad. Vulnerability is the foundation of all emotions. Embracing vulnerability is the only way to truly invite a life full of love, belonging, fulfilment, and meaning.
8 surprising benefits of embracing vulnerability
1. Increased courage
The association between vulnerability and weakness is a flawed one. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the embracing of it. The word ‘courage’ comes from the Latin word ‘cor’ – heart’, original meaning: “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”. To have courage requires the willingness to not be perfect. To be willing to risk failure. This requires vulnerability, and the more you allow yourself to be vulnerable, the more your courage grows.
2. Increased self-confidence
Allowing yourself to embrace vulnerability means embracing a more authentic version of yourself. With this comes greater self-confidence. The more that you experience the positive results of vulnerability, the more this self-confidence will grow.
3. Greater sense of belonging and connectedness
True connection, with yourself and with others, requires vulnerability. Brené Brown refers to “The vulnerability paradox: It’s the first thing I look for in you, and the last thing I want you to see in me.” When someone shows an authentic glimpse of who they are, you are able to connect to a deeper level. The same is true for yourself. If you are able to move past the fear, embrace vulnerability, and show an authentic glimpse of who you are, you allow others to connect more easily with you. This leads to a greater sense of belonging. The single thing that stands in the way of connection is the fear that we may not be worthy of connection.
4. Higher levels of compassion
Embracing vulnerability means being more compassionate with yourself. Self-compassion does not mean pity or pandering, self-compassion means truly acknowledging your experience, rather than fighting it. Self-compassion is an essential pre-requisite to compassion for others. When you are able to acknowledge and be kind with yourself, you are best resourced to acknowledge and be kind to others.
5. Clearer purpose and meaning
Through embracing vulnerability, you are able to be more authentic and honest with yourself. This leads to a greater sense of self-awareness. With this awareness comes a clearer sense of purpose and meaning to your life.
6. Stronger leadership
Whether in the workplace, as a parent, as a role model to others, embracing vulnerability can lead to stronger leadership. Through vulnerability, you can create stronger connections leading to better engagement. Your vulnerability can inspire new ideas and stronger collaboration. You are more able to let go of the need to control (ego based) and move into leadership.
7. More opportunity
Vulnerability can open doors that would otherwise have remained shut. By allowing yourself to step into new challenges and unfamiliar environments you are able to see options and opportunities that may not have appeared available before. Without embracing vulnerability, we only see the options directly in front of us.Increased abilities
8. Increased abilities
When you embrace vulnerability, you are less afraid of the unknown. This leaves you more resourced to face challenges, try new ideas, and accomplish higher goals. Your comfort zone expands and your skillset along with it. As you allow yourself to be challenged, you learn, grow, and develop along the way.
On the other side of vulnerability is growth
On the other side of vulnerability is growth. The more you are able to embrace vulnerability, the closer you will get to living the life that you want. The benefits of embracing vulnerability are many, but that doesn’t make it easy. And it doesn’t mean you should start striking up deep personal conversations at the supermarket checkout or take up skydiving either. Try taking small steps each day to allow yourself to get more comfortable with the discomfort of vulnerability. Like any habit, the more you do it, the easier it will become.