THE FEAR OF BEING VULNERABLE IS A VERY COMMON FEAR

How much do you cringe when you hear the word “vulnerability?”

 

Maybe the very thought brings up feelings of nausea or conjures images of a circle around a campfire and streams of tears all around.

 

I wonder if any of these apply to you:

 

  •  You stick to conversations on topics that feel safe for fear of speaking out of turn, offending someone or inviting conflict?
  •  You’re stuck in a job the fails to fulfil you yet society deems it successful and the notion of disappointing your friends or family in light of following your calling is too scary.
  •  You don’t go to the gym for fear of being judged.
  •  Dressing in bright colours will make you stand out and draw attention which feels uncomfortable.
  •  Smiling at a stranger is a strange thing to do - imagine if this meant there was then eye contact!?
  •  The idea of talking about the fees to work with you screams rejection.
  •  The thought of asking that guy or gal you’ve adored out shuts you down for the fear of rejection.

 

Many of us were not taught how to manage our emotions and we still fail to prioritise this in our education system for our younger generations. Imagine where we would be right now if we had been taught how to manage fear, grief, pain and all of the other stuff that consumes our waking mind for countless hours in our days?

 

Ask which of the symptoms above resonates the most as this should heighten you to reflect on the reality that you have the inability to make yourself vulnerable. A great place to start.

 

If you sit here right now and disagree, then you shut off the ability to even conceive the idea which in itself speaks volumes.

 

No one has their shizzle together 100% and in truth, you shouldn’t want to.

 

What does that even mean if you say “I have my s**t together?” I hear it all the time from people who have come through an experience and feel in a stronger place where they are healed?

 

That’s great but if you were honest with yourself, can anyone ever stand tall with the knowledge that everything is spot on? We should always seek to grow and evolve as works in progress. To be able to shine a light on it in this way is our gift. The power comes in being able to have gratitude for the now and being content is where we can truly be in power.

 

For whatever reason - home, childhood, our parents who didn’t express their emotions, you have engrained habits and ways of being that is embedded and holding you back.

 

The mere thought of someone disliking me, rejecting me at the end of the first date, being told no I don’t need your help right now in business used to send me into shut down defence mode.

 

As a result, I learnt to push down all of my emotions, stack them one on top of the other and hit walls in my life where I struggled.

 

Breaking through the barriers you impose on yourself and learning to truly connect with yourself will bring breakthroughs in your life and result in you discovering some of the most genuine and interactive relationships that will serve you for the rest of your life.

 

I’ll share what I mean by this;

 

When I was wanting to leave my 19 year career, I was challenged with how I felt. I had some wise supporters playing devil’s advocate but ultimately, I felt I could not be my true authentic self and had lost a sense of identity in a business I had thrived in. I had to go.

 

In the last four years, I have invested in many different types of therapy from EFT, RTT, CBT, Meditation, hypnosis and most recently I have invested in a three month grief recovery programme. There is no silver bullet in life. Just like I won’t be that one mentor or coach in someone’s life. Life is a journey that you embark on with where you are at in a moment in time. Be open to discovering what this path looks like for you is a vulnerable step to take and one I knew I had to take after I went from committing my whole self to working 24/7 to one day it was gone.

 

One of the biggest challenges I have faced in my own business mentoring and coaching others is how much I should give - time, knowledge, experience but also of me. What I have learned is that vulnerability is a foundation to growing truly rich relationships and connections with people. It allows us to build trust and respect all of which is critical components in relationships and as I always share business is about relationships.

 

As Mary Angelou said:

 

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

How can this serve you… let’s see…

 

What Vulnerability Really Is to you?

 

Many people spend life covering over pain, loss and emotions and understanding what is means to be vulnerable. It is understandable to feel this way.

 

Vulnerability is consciously choosing to NOT hide your emotions or desires from others. That’s it. You just freely express your thoughts, feelings, desires, and opinions regardless of what others might think of you.

 

Some of the things I have found vulnerability to be:

 

  •  Creating boundaries with people - what serves you and not feeling a pressure to show up for others aligned to their expectations.
  •  Sharing my story - the highs and lows. You are ALWAYS going to turn people off. That’s a fact. Embrace this and invest in attracting the right energy from people drawn to you.
  •  Practise being vulnerable. It is my no means an easy feat. It requires you to be able to navigate forward when the consequences offer challenge. It is about being able to respond and accept these in the right way and be patient with yourself in the process

 

Ask: what does vulnerability mean to you?

 

How can I be vulnerable?

 

  •  Be honest with yourself that you are crap at something. Anything from dating, asking for feedback from your manager to really listening to the whole of your spouse’s horrendous day when you just want to shut off with Netflix. People respect and admire you more if you can be authentic and real. Just don’t be something you aren’t. True confidence and genuine behaviours are what I call a feeling… you get that vibe from someone without them saying it.
  •  Own it. Don’t blame others. People say the secrets to living a great life is giving. 

 

When you give to others, help or serve them - whatever language resonates, you move into a place of power. I believe the true secret is in giving and receiving because if you just give you fail and break the cycle in allowing someone else to give.

 

  •  You cannot control everyone and everything that happens to you. You can control your response to it.
  •  Share with someone how they made you feel. I reflect on relationships and know they have been far from perfect. Great relationships rely on values, respect, trust, patience, compromise and honesty. They require you to be humble and mature enough to not rant and argue but to be vulnerable enough to say: “When you did x, it made me feel y. I would like to discuss this and talk this through this so we can both understand it and move forward.” You cannot change the past but you can stop, reflect and take time to understand what you can do to change the future.
  •  Never miss the opportunity to tell someone how much you love them. Life is full of regrets. I would challenge the person who says “I don’t regret anything, it made me who I am today.” There is a place for this notion, but in reality being vulnerable is about being honest that you can regret things you did because you are human. You mess up! We all mess up. One simple act I love to remind myself to do as often as I can (I won’t say I do it daily as I don’t although I should do) is message someone and just say; “Hey - I was thinking about you today… love you!) Imagine getting that from someone. How much could that shift the day for you?

 

Just for the record…

 

It will serve you to reflect on knowing what vulnerability is not.

 

Vulnerability is not a tactic.

 

People use this because in fairness it’s become a bit of a buzzword especially in the corporate space. 

 

“Tell me your vulnerabilities as a leader?” 

 

I was once asked this by a director and I cringe now. “Tell me your vulnerabilities…?” I didn’t and I didn’t get the promotion!

 

I didn’t want to. As a director, a leader, she had failed me. She failed us in being misguided in understanding what true vulnerability is. Go back to where I shared about business is relationships - trust, respect and seeking to understand… none of those foundations were established and on reflection this lack of awareness was consequently more damaging. 

 

It is imperative to establish bond and create a space for people to feel psychological safety without any fear of judgement.

 

It is not a purge of all of your emotions. Think of someone you know whereby a message asking how they are invites a waterfall of emotions. “Well, you won’t believe this but………..” Being vulnerable is about space, trust and listening.

Of course, we all have moments like this but being mindful and aware it may be they are seeking for you to fix their issues. Create those boundaries and be vulnerable to yourself first.

 

I learnt this recently in my own grief recovery as I looked to understand a previous failed relationship and loss of my career. One of my coping mechanisms had been to keep helping others through a myriad of ways from volunteering to replying to people instantly who shared their challenges with me. None of these were helping me but allowing me to cowardly take the path which I thought was safer when the one I needed to take was to be honest with myself about the pains and heartaches I had inside that I have built up, pushed down and not wanted to explore to learn how to cope. The journey is hard, it is painful but incredibly insightful and liberating.

 

A final thought…

 

The power of vulnerability

 

What you may have noticed through this is that true, real vulnerability is a form of power. To you.

 

Brene Brown talks about this in her book, Daring Greatly:

 

"A person who can make themselves vulnerable, exposing their weaknesses without any regard to what others will think, is saying to the world, “I don’t care what you think of me. This is who I am, and I refuse to be anyone else.”

 

You must be able to dig deep and do the inner work to know and show your flaws and weaknesses to the world. 

 

Being transparent and confident to be comfortable with being uncomfortable which is a process.

 

I believe, if you put the work in, if you have challenging and honest conversations with yourself and face into the fear, you will find amazing things can happen. Relationships will evolve and the richness of your conversations will expand to new heights. You will start to create a different life for yourself and find a new energy that opens doors and leads you on new paths in your life.

 

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