Through many experiences, I’ve come to believe that showing vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
I grew up next door to my aunt and uncle, who were my closest relatives outside of my immediate family. When Aunty Marie died of cancer, I was nine years old, and I couldn’t believe why I wasn’t able to control my crying at her funeral. The tears came totally unexpectedly, and I thought I must have been a weak kid, because, after all, she wasn’t my mother.
When the minister saw me crying, he came up to me and shared his thoughts. He asked, “why are you so upset, I didn’t know you two were that close?” His comment totally verified the fact in my mind that I must have been weak, at least in part. Through many experiences, I’ve come to believe that showing vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
Now that I’m married and have a fourteen-year-old son, I want to be the dad and husband who is willing to show some vulnerability, and be honest and more transparent than members of my previous generation. In my opinion, showing vulnerability is one of the most powerful ways to strengthen connections.
So what does it mean to be vulnerable? Showing vulnerability means being willing to reveal your true self and be completely honest about your feelings and emotions. It means going ahead and asking for help while at the same time knowing you might not get what you’re looking for from the other person. If you have the confidence to show vulnerability, you must also have the confidence to know you’ll be ok with whatever happens as a result.
A person who isn’t comfortable with vulnerability is more likely to depend on others to feed their self-esteem. They become devastated if they experience a setback and then look for people or situations to blame so they don’t have to take responsibility themselves. Here are four reasons why, in the past, I didn’t want to show vulnerability and how I’m determined to change.
1. I wanted to show I’m self-sufficient:
The more confident guys ask for help because they know we can accomplish way more together as a team than we can individually. I notice that successful men are not afraid to get help at work or home. In the future, I’ll ask for help more often.
2. I didn’t want to look needy:
The fear of looking needy is real for a lot of men, including me at times. Confidence starts inside and being truly confident means facing the fear and doing it anyway. I realize the fear of looking needy is just that, a fear and an idea I’ve created in my mind. Next time I start thinking this way, I’ll be able to identify it right away and then move on.
3. I was afraid I’d be rejected:
Rejection is a deep-rooted fear for most people. Now when I face this fear, I’ll take a deep breath and determine to dive into the situation by being completely prepared. As confidently as I can, I will move to approach the person or apply for the job or ask for help, in spite of knowing I might not get what I want.
4. I didn’t want my partner to be needy:
I wanted to be with a strong, independent partner, and I would worry she might think it’s ok to be needy if I showed neediness. Rather than worry about how my partner will respond to my actions, I know I need to do what feels right, and that means being vulnerable at certain times.
I’m going to make a better effort to share my thoughts and listen to the thoughts and feelings of other people. Showing more vulnerability in this way will help break down walls I might have created. I will be more sensitive to the needs of other people and more willing to help them, even if at first I’m not sure how to help them.
One thing I understand is this; you need to be honest and sincere about vulnerability. If you think you’ll just use it as a tactic to get what you want, it will fall flat. It has to be genuine and from the heart. Being completely honest about my weaknesses and strengths has made me stronger as a person and given me more direction.
Aunty Marie was the mother of three sons, and thinking back; I remember her energy, her honesty and that she showed incredible strength. She also understood that it was right to show vulnerability. She brought up her sons to help and encourage each other through tough times and good times, and through doing that, they were not afraid to reveal some vulnerability to each other. Throughout her battle with cancer, she kept going strong but sometimes shared her feelings and emotions as her health declined.
The belief that showing vulnerability indicates weakness is still out there, especially if you’re a guy. It’s time we reevaluate this attitude. Do you think we should be willing to show more vulnerability? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment.
Photo: Flickr/ Julie Kunz