By Olivia PIkul
In a society that paints vulnerability as a weakness, it’s important to be aware of the fact that the word “vulnerable” is often misconstrued. Vulnerability means that you’re able to show true emotion, to be honest with yourself and others and that even when fearful of the consequences, you stay true to yourself.
Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, it is actually a sign of emotional strength. It is very important in building healthy friendships, relationships, and professional partnerships.
Vulnerability is not oversharing or being overemotional, it is intentional. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a choice but instead is a response to “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” according to Dr. Brene Brown. As a form of protection and insecurity, many people respond by trying to avoid vulnerability altogether. This can quickly turn into behaviors that don’t align with the person you want to be. The longer you push down vulnerability, the more damage you do to yourself.
Don’t hold in your tears, don’t fake a smile through uncomfortable situations, and don’t act fearlessly in times of uncertainty. Eventually, everyone breaks and when that happens, you’re going to feel lost in processing all of the emotions that have been pushed down all that time. Instead, express your concerns, cry when your body needs to release emotion, and talk through your fears and uncertainties.
Vulnerability doesn’t have to be an outward expression of emotion, it can also come to fruition by admitting when you’re wrong, being able to see your areas that need growth, and even experiencing joy. It allows you to be open to change, understand different perspectives, and build intimate relationships with the people around you.
Vulnerability is vital for healthy relationships. Without it, relationships are built off of the hope that both partners will eventually begin to share true emotion. A relationship without vulnerability lacks intimacy and truth, and can often feel like a chore or a constant feeling of responsibility to force your partner to express themselves. It’s important to be aware of your openness to emotions in order to prevent this pressure from falling on your partner. Work through the discomfort to find yourself before bringing your insecurities into a relationship. At the end of the day, be proud of the progress you have made, and the strength you displayed by breaking the stigma surrounding normal human emotion.
To help you on your journey toward self-discovery, check out some of these resources:
You can also find more tips on how to practice vulnerability here.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.
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