This quote from Jeff Brown pretty much sums up the beauty of embracing vulnerability:
"When we are young, it’s the illusion of perfection that we fall in love with. But, as we age, it’s the humanness that we fall in love with- the poignant story of overcoming, the depthful vulnerability of aging, the struggles that grew us in karmic stature, the way a soul shaped itself to accommodate its circumstances."
The failure to be vulnerable is one of the biggest roadblocks to effective connection and communication.
Social anxiety causes us to put up walls in order to protect ourselves from getting hurt, but as a result, we end up never fully connecting with those around us, which hurts even more.
Learning to be vulnerable with those we love is one of the most important steps to truly feeling loved and understood, and it is worth the effort to try and recognize and break down the walls we have built for ourselves.
Why do we fear being vulnerable?
More often than not, it's a question of ego. Our ego likes to believe that we are strong, indestructible, and better than others. Our ego allows us to view vulnerable people as weak. It keeps us shut off, cut off, and convincing others that we have it all together. Sometimes we even manage to convince ourselves.
This is what our ego does, because deep down we are terrified. Of dying, of hurting, and of failing. So we build up our egos, which are basically little voices that tell us that we are the exception, that "those scary things will never happen to me."
But there's no room for authentic human connection when you are letting your ego direct things. How can you connect on a human level if you are busy trying to convince yourself that you are some sort of super-human?
How do I break down my emotional walls?
This is where vulnerability is so important. Humans, all of us, are vulnerable. We are vulnerable to the elements, we are vulnerable to illness, we are vulnerable to aging, to failure, to losing our loved ones and possessions. That's the vulnerability of life. To deny this is to cut yourself off from the very experience of life itself. And connecting with other people is all about sharing this life experience.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with others means first accepting vulnerability in yourself. And this is not always easy, because to accept vulnerability means to accept your fears, and to be willing to share them with others.
Take this step. Open your heart up to the realization that you are flawed, mortal, and scared. And allow other people to share their flaws, mortality, and fears with you. If you do, you will see a sincere difference in how you connect and you will feel less alone, which ultimately is the goal of this series. Below are some tips for getting started.
Admit your flaws
The first step in accepting your vulnerability is admitting your flaws.
Not sure what your flaws are?
A good way to figure it out is to define what you are the most defensive about, and what you judge harshly in others. These two things usually reveal what we are insecure about in ourselves.
Open up to those around you
Simple as that.
Divulge your shameful secrets. Express your hidden fears. Embrace your humanity and the scars that make you who you are.
Visit the sick and elderly, and volunteer for the less fortunate
Visiting the sick and/or elderly and volunteering isn't just good for the soul and a kind act, it reminds us of our vulnerability and mortality in a beautiful way. This may be why so many people avoid doing it.
Once you humanize the people who are less fortunate than you or who are sick and aging, you find it harder to distance yourself from them in your mind.