One of the personal qualities that I seek to improve in order to be a better partner is my ability to get vulnerable. To be my authentic self, I need to be able to get vulnerable and believe me, this is no easy task. As a matter of fact, my natural inclination is quite the opposite, I want to appear capable, independent, and always in control. But that’s not very real, is it? Nor is it particularly appealing. Our vulnerability is our humanity – it connects us to each other. When we show our vulnerability, others feel more comfortable showing theirs. No one is invincible; no one is ‘perfect’. Being open about our doubts, fears, and insecurities is vital if we want true intimacy in our relationships. So, I’m on the yellow brick road and vulnerability is my Oz. Maybe it’s your Oz too, so I’m going to share with you five steps that I’m taking on my path to getting vulnerable.
They seem like a pretty good place to start. 🙂
Share Your Pain: How many disappointments have you had in your life that you honestly and openly shared with others? How many did you share without ‘glossing over’ them or dressing them up with a justification or an excuse? It’s okay to be disappointed; it’s okay to feel hurt. And voicing those feelings and allowing yourself to experience the pain in all of its rawness is emotionally healthy and part of the process of letting that pain go. Otherwise, you just bury the hurt inside of you where it will continue to rise up and be felt again.
Share Your Imperfections: Logically we know that nobody is perfect, yet emotionally we often expect perfection from others and we fear showing our own imperfections. Think of the early stages of dating when you are on your best behavior and are afraid of doing or saying the ‘wrong’ thing, the thing that will turn this person off and make them run for the hills. But do you really want to be on a pedestal? That is a stressful place to be. Instead, let your imperfections reveal themselves naturally and easily in the flow of life and love.Laugh at your faults; laugh at your foibles, and accept the imperfections of others with the same understanding and humor. Loving and embracing your imperfections makes it easier for other to love and embrace them, too.
Share Your Fears: Unless you’re a psychopath, you are afraid of something. Maybe you’re afraid of being alone, afraid of getting sick with no one to care for you, afraid of aging, afraid of failure, afraid you’re unlovable, afraid you’re not good enough. I promise you that every single person you know is afraid of one of these things. Imagine how connected we would feel if all of us were open and honest about our fears. Imagine how supportive we could be of each other if our fears were shared. Imagine how accepting we could be. Share your fears and let others comfort and support you, and you’ll see how quickly they let down their own guard. Your sharing is their invitation to share.
Share Your Tears: I don’t know about you, but when I’m about to cry, I try to stop myself – especially if I’m not alone, if for no other reason than I think I look awful when I cry. But crying is a natural expression of both joy and sadness. It’s cathartic; it’s cleansing. But there’s a reason ‘fighting back tears’ is a well-known phrase, because most of us feel ashamed when we cry, or embarrassed. Yet when someone else is crying, don’t we often respond with, ‘It’s okay; let it out’ as we move to comfort them? Why do we think we have to be so strong? And who really wants to be? Cry, baby, cry – cry your eyes out. Let others see them, share them, and dry them.
Share Without Fixing: One of the most important steps to vulnerability is being able to share your emotions and to share the emotions of others without ‘fixing’ anything. This is one of my biggest struggles. When loved ones share their pain with me, I want so badly to make everything better that I often respond with advice or attempts at finding the silver lining. It’s a real challenge for me to just listen and share that space without fixing. Listening, affirming, and mirroring the emotions of others is one of the most important ways we have of validating someone else’s experience, and it’s incredibly healing for the other person. As a matter of fact, I’d venture to say that one of the main reasons adults have such difficulty showing vulnerability is because they did not receive validation of their emotions in childhood.
Better late than never. 🙂