• David Strittmatter

Why showing vulnerability is a real strength

We are never so vulnerable as when we love

Summary:

  • Vulnerability means putting yourself in a position where you can expect negative reactions

  • Showing vulnerability is about stopping trying to be perfect and exposing our true selves

  • You’ll find new depth in your relationships and people will look up to you

Practical advice:

  • Be 100% honest to yourself and others

  • Always try to relate when someone is sharing negative experiences

  • Tell others what you appreciate, admire, respect, or love

Dear friend,


When was the last time you genuinely expressed your true thoughts? For instance, a friend of yours asked how you are doing, and instead of saying "everything is fine", you told him/her that you're not good right now and life isn't going great at the moment, but you don't want to overwhelm her/him with a lengthy emotional conversation and just wanted to be honest.


If we reveal our authentic selves, there is the great possibility that we will be misunderstood, labeled, or worst of all, rejected. The fear of these negative reactions can be so powerful that many of us created a thick armor around us that makes us feel less vulnerable.


Yet, after all, vulnerability is the first thing we look for in people. We want them to be honest to us, don't fake their emotions, be authentic, and show their real thoughts. When they show vulnerability, we perceive it as courage and daring.


Indeed. Being real takes courage. Exposing our weaknesses to friends, family, and colleagues might seem an impossible endeavor for many of us. Yet, feeling comfortable with opening up and showing vulnerability can be learned.


In this article, I want to share my experiences and explain to you why acknowledging your weaknesses is vital for a happy life and how you can show vulnerability to create better relationships.


What vulnerability really looks like


Vulnerability can be seen as the conscious decision to not hide your emotions or desires from others, enabling others to react negatively or in an unwanted way.


This can be as simple as complimenting someone on how good they look, approaching an attractive stranger you don’t know, establishing clear and strong boundaries (telling someone a clear no), or expressing your love to someone.


It can mean putting yourself in a position where you can be rejected, saying a joke that might not be funny, asserting an opinion that may offend others, joining a table of people you don’t know, telling someone you’re attracted to him/her, etc.


Showing vulnerability is about stopping trying to be perfect, exposing our true selves, and sharing ourselves without inhibition. The point is that you’re not trying to be something that you’re not.


However, even though it might genuinely vulnerable, suddenly unloading an inappropriate amount of emotions and personal history onto a conversation is insensitive and repulsive. So, this is how vulnerability shouldn't look like.


Why it is a real strength


I can assure you, if you put in the work, express yourself honestly even when it’s risky to do so, have the difficult conversations, and tell the world “this is who I am and I refuse to be anything else”, you’ll find new depth in your relationships. All of your relationships.


We are attracted to people that show vulnerability. We are inspired and look up to people who are able to set free themselves, break the thick armor that prevents us to get hurt, and escape the mental prison.


Showing that you're a human being with emotions and imperfect edges will take courage, endurance, and persistence. Once you get started and show vulnerability more often, however, it will feel increasingly easier and better; and after not too long, you will enjoy it and help others to expose their true selves too.


Are you tired of having superficial fake friends? You’d be surprised how accepting all of your weaknesses and sharing your genuine thoughts with another can help you to connect to real people who aren't interested in superficial relationships either.


As you may already found out by yourself, probably in your latest romantic relationship: those who protect themselves to avoid getting hurt, fail to create intimate and close relationships. We can only have healthy and happy relationships if we can show vulnerability to our partner. So, if your last relationship failed, you might contemplate whether you were too afraid to be as you are and show your true inner beauty to your ex-partner. And if you want to enhance your current relationship, you might think about whether you're really 100% honest to yourself and show your weaknesses to your partner.


How can you show more vulnerability


Being able to express vulnerability is an essential part of an authentic personality. Like authenticity, vulnerability requires you to be sincerely honest with yourself and others. When you're asked something, you need to tell the truth. For instance, when I was asked what I think about soccer, I answered that I suck at it and, thus, I'm not interested in it.


The most important step to show more vulnerability, though, is to open yourself up and express your genuine thoughts. For example, someone is telling you about his/her job and how nervous s/he was when s/he presented the project results to his/her boss. If you're feeling very uncomfortable in speaking in front of others, relate to his/her story, tell him/her why you don't like it as well, what you need to improve and learn, and how afraid of the next presentation you are.


Be proactive and disclose your weaknesses and failures first. Most of the time, others will share their feelings too.


Train yourself to become more comfortable with your emotions, with your faults, and with expressing yourself. Indeed, this process takes time and courage. And you won't feel super comfortable in these situations at the beginning, but once you obtain a compliment for opening up and being so authentic, you'll know that taking this risk is worth it.


You don't have to immediately share weaknesses, true emotions, and thoughts like dreams, passion, and desires with every new person you got to know. This will take the time or you won't ever feel comfortable enough to expose yourself that much to strangers. Yet, telling someone what you appreciate, admire, respect, or love - positive emotions - is also a form of vulnerability we all have to practice more.


When you get to know a new person, let's say a colleague, you might ask him/her what they do in their free time (hobbies). Let them know what you think about it. Do you like it? Why do you like it? Have you ever tried it too? Why? Why not? Then, try to relate. Talk about your hobbies. Expose your thoughts and true feelings about it. Share your passion for the things that excite you. People will feel like they’ve gained a real insight into your world, and you’ll realize that sharing things with them really isn’t that scary after all!

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