We’ve all felt vulnerable many times in our lives—and it can be scary. Who wants to willingly invite judgement or criticism, feel uncomfortable or out of place?
Believe it or not, a healthy amount of vulnerability is a good thing! It’s a sign of strength. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable it shows your humanity and encourages others to open up, too.
I’ve worked with many clients whose main source of anxiety is worrying about how other people perceive them. The truth is, avoiding vulnerability often traces back to our childhood. Children who are criticized, ignored, bullied or otherwise rejected can develop defense mechanisms to protect themselves that carry into adulthood. One defense mechanism is a critical inner voice—convincing yourself that you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not capable. . .and that fear can prevent you from developing successful relationships.
BUT. . .it’s incredibly important to accept discomfort instead of avoiding it. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable forces you to be open and honest about how you feel, which is critical to strong relationships—whether that relationship is with a sibling, a friend, or a significant other.
Technique of the week: Practice being more vulnerable. Notice when you're feeling guarded or protecting yourself in some way. Have a code word to remind yourself to let go of your fear of being judged and just listen to what’s being said. Then you can decide if—and how—to respond. Yes, it can be stressful to potentially be judged or criticized, but the opportunity to hear other people’s thoughts and opposing views can add tremendous value to all of your relationships!