We want the best in our relationships at home and work, but our hard exteriors often keep us from being open and honest. It keeps us from accessing our vulnerability.
After five years, our marriage was stuck. Nights filled the air with distance, unspoken words, and a yearning for anything different. It was painful and lonely.
And I realized that to get what I wanted–which was a sharing and fulfilling relationship with my wife again–I had to allow my hard point of view to soften. I also accepted that things needed to change with me. As I allowed that in, what I discovered on the other side was quite surprising.
I liked vulnerability. What seemed like a weak, useless skill became a way to connect with my wife on a whole new level and save our relationship.
Initially, I felt great fear in becoming vulnerable. What if she rejected me? What if doing this made it worse? I made a decision for my growth to open despite the hesitation. I dove right into the fear and inside I found an incredible inner strength that assured me it was OK to be more yielding, accepting, and unconditionally loving.
Vulnerability also helped me conquer the terrible thought that I would get chewed up, spit out, and thrown away with the trash. Instead, I became more powerful and influential.
If you want to make your relationship better right now, embracing vulnerability is an effective place to start.
TED speaker and researcher Brene Brown explains, “In our culture we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. We too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.”
We want to belong. We want to have good relationships that function and thrive. So, how do we get a better sense of that?
Here are five steps to welcome vulnerability into your world and help you become a better partner:
1. Permission to Change. Have you ever given yourself enough of a break to allow vulnerability to work in your life? Keeping an unyielding spirit keeps us from being flexible. According to Brown, “we sacrifice our happiness by being defensive.” True emotional strength and honest communication include flexibility. As you become more willing to experience vulnerability, space opens to that brave place where you can take chances.
2. Conquer Your Fears. Becoming vulnerable helps to let go of the very fears that are keeping you stuck. Instead of avoiding fears like the plague, confront them. In doing so, fear dissipates and turns tunnel vision into a plethora of options. Conquering fear also ignites a greater sense of togetherness at work and home.
3. Showing The Real You. Have you ever felt like you are playing a secondary part in the story of your life? At some point, you just want to give up the small role and be the main you! The vulnerability provides access to your authentic self. Creativity and uniqueness increase when the real you is participating. Let the real you be seen and counted!
4. Increasing Engagement . Only 31.5% of the US workforce engaged in the workplace in 2014. Most employees are too hard on themselves, afraid to make mistakes, and act like they are participating when they are not present. Vulnerability opens the door to accept your errors with grace, search for new solutions through mistakes, and find fulfilling work that you enjoy so you can be all in.
5. Living with No Regrets. What would happen if you got to your death bed and wondered, “If only I had been more vulnerable and open with my partner, I could have made a difference in our marriage and been happier!” Don’t wonder. Every living human being is afraid of some condition or circumstance. Strength lies in recognizing this and deciding to move forward despite the fear. Step up to your life the way you want it to be. Use vulnerability to lead to a softer growth full of conviction.
Problems give way to solutions the more vulnerable you can become. It may be difficult on the front end, but the benefits lead to more sharing, caring, and engagement with others than you ever thought possible. It’s the key to shedding the hard exterior and becoming the one of a kind person you were designed to be.
Photo: Flickr/ erin m