“Vulnerability is far simpler, more mundane, and yet way more powerful than all the preconceived, wishy-washy notions you might have.”
Mark Manson, in Vulnerability: The Key to Better Relationships
We live in a tough, insensitive world.
Since we’re children, we’re taught to be guarded. We’re told to toughen up and to keep our feelings to ourselves.
I get it, opening up can be frightening. Heck, simply feeling can be frightening!
Believe me, I know. I feel a lot, and I feel intensely. I have always been highly sensitive. In kindergarten, I was always that kid who would feel like crying when someone said something mean. I felt hurt very easily.
I would cry when seeing people or animals treated unfairly. I would feel like my heart had been carved open when witnessing any type of violence.
Being so sensitive was both a gift and a curse. A gift because I could feel this profound sense of oneness and connection with every being around me. A curse because sometimes that connection would make me feel like I was bleeding out.
I soon realized most people around me didn’t seem to feel half of what I felt. But I kept feeling it all. Until heartache got in the way.
After getting my heart broken, I wondered why couldn’t I be as cold as the person who hurt me.
Months of pain and despair made me realize that maybe I should simply shut down every feeling inside me. So that’s what I did. I built some huge walls around me and constructed a bullet-proof armor that nobody could ever penetrate.
I would see myself as tough and strong, but deep, deep down, I was just denying my own vulnerability and, therefore, denying myself.
The thing is, when you shield yourself from the possibility of getting hurt, you’re also shielding yourself from the possibility of love and connection. That’s the perfect recipe for a miserable life, because the drive to build bonds is in all of us.
Vulnerability Makes You More Self-Aware.
“Self-awareness is like great sex: everyone thinks they have a ton of it, but in reality no one know what the fuck they’re doing.”
Mark Manson, in The 3 Levels of Self-Awareness
When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you learn to listen to your intuition. You get in touch with your ability to look at yourself.
You become aware of your habits, routines, emotions and reactions. You’re able to say when you’re on autopilot and when you’re not. Or what triggers you and what doesn’t.
For instance, as soon as I started allowing myself to be vulnerable again, I realized how self-destructive I had been for the past few years. I realized alcohol and tobacco were not mere things I used for pleasure; I was actually using them to numb myself. I was using them to distract myself from the pain.
And the best part is, somehow, when I became aware of how I had been basically anesthetizing myself for such a long time, I lost the urge to do it. It was crazy to me because quitting smoking wasn’t even in my plans. I couldn’t imagine my life without it. But I suddenly stopped feeling the need to grab a cigarette every 10 minutes. In fact, I started feeling repulsion towards it.
Self-awareness gives you the power to change your behavior and take your power back.
Vulnerability Is Key To Happy, Long-Lasting Relationships.
According to Dr. Brené Brown, a renowned expert on this field, “vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure”. So yeah, they don’t call it falling in love for nothing. Love is uncertain, it’s risky and it gives you no guarantees.
But the truth is, we get closer to people by sharing and by learning more about them. By sharing our joys, our tears and heartbreaks. Without vulnerability, a relationship will always stay on a superficial level.
Vulnerability increases our sense of authenticity, and at the same time, it makes us more connected to our partner. A few days ago, I was talking to my boyfriend about this and we both agreed that what makes our relationship so happy and meaningful is that we’re so vulnerable with each other.
If you’re afraid to be vulnerable and show your true self, you may have intimacy or abandonment issues. These issues can stem from several causes, such as childhood experiences or past relationships. I’ve recently written a whole article about this topic:
There are moments and situations where I’m still not able to be fully vulnerable, and I’m still working on it.
But, at least, I am always — always — vulnerable with myself, which is an amazing victory on its own. I’m able to go inward and take a look at myself, acknowledge my emotions, my thoughts, my wounds and my fears. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it.
“Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences.”
Dr. Brené Brown, in Daring To Be Vulnerable
Pain is an unavoidable part of being human, and yes, vulnerability does make us more susceptible to hurt and disappointment.
But vulnerability is not about being fragile, gullible or naive.
It’s about allowing ourselves to be authentic, so we can truly experience what life is all about.
It’s about allowing ourselves to open our hearts — to give and receive love fully.
There are risks worth taking. Don’t close yourself off to life.
Previously published on medium
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