Still, vulnerability is not for the faint of heart. It requires an enormous amount of courage to share personal things about yourself, allow yourself to be fully seen, and put yourself out there. The benefits, however, are well worth the risk, which is why we were eager to learn more about how we can learn to be more vulnerable in our lives and the actual steps in doing so. Keep reading for tips from a couple of experts, plus the benefits of being vulnerable and some tangible examples of how it can look IRL.
The benefits of being vulnerable
As scary and uncomfortable as it is, why even be vulnerable? Well, it comes along with many benefits. For one, vulnerability doesn’t make you weak, it makes you stronger. “Vulnerability is a paradox because the more vulnerable you allow yourself to be, the more powerful you will feel,” says Karen Anderson, a master certified life coach and author of Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters. “When you are no longer afraid of what others will think, you're more willing to put yourself out there in all the various ways there are to do that: in relationships, in your career, with your art and creativity, with your exuberance and heart.”
Secondly, vulnerability can take your relationships to another level. “When you are being true to who you are, that creates a wave of loving energy to everyone around you,” says Kristine Fredheim, a psychic medium and spiritual advisor. “It inspires people to feel safe to express their love. “When we all feel safe, we will love deeper and this can truly make a huge impact on the world.”
Anderson adds that vulnerability also helps increase healthy interdependence and decrease codependency in relationships, as well as expand your capacity to feel and experience deeper levels of compassion and intimacy.
Examples of vulnerability
Vulnerability will look different for everyone, but here are some common examples Anderson shared:
- Telling others when they’ve done something to upset you.
- Sharing with someone something personal about yourself that you would normally hold back.
- Having the willingness to feel pride or shame.
- Reaching out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while and would like to reconnect with.
- Setting boundaries with love and compassion versus from a place of blame.
- Putting yourself out there and risking rejection.
How to become more vulnerable
1. Define vulnerability for yourself
As a starting point on your vulnerability journey, Anderson suggests diving deep and getting clear on what vulnerability means to you. Ask yourself: What would it look like for me to become more vulnerable? She also notes that it's important to examine the role vulnerability played in your family growing up (i.e. maybe it was seen as a weakness) because it could be impacting how you relate to vulnerability now. This is your opportunity to redefine it for yourself.
2. Get to know yourself
In order to be able to express yourself and be vulnerable, you first need to really know and understand yourself on a deeper level. To do this, Fredheim suggests doing things that help you connect to your natural state whether it’s yoga, listening to music, writing, or meditating. “Finding a safe place that you can anchor yourself daily is so important,” she says. “Sometimes this is all we need to be comfortable in our vulnerability and take it with us everywhere we go.”
3. Talk to yourself in the mirror
Giving yourself a pep talk in the mirror might feel a little strange and uncomfortable at first, but hey, isn’t that what being vulnerable is all about? This is a powerful practice Fredheim recommends to help crack yourself open and strengthen your relationships. “If we can face ourselves with love and compassion, we can give it to others easily,” she says.
4. Get familiar with the feeling of vulnerability
If being vulnerable it totally new for you, Anderson suggests first getting intimate with how vulnerability feels for you. “This is not an intellectual exercise,” she says. “It's about noticing how it feels in your body. Actually feel your feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones, rather than avoiding or numbing them. As you get used to the sensations, you increase your capacity for vulnerability.”
5. Push yourself outside your comfort zone
Being vulnerable by definition requires you to do or say something that pushes you outside the edge of your comfort zone. That’s why Fredheim recommends challenging yourself to do things you’ve never done before like signing up for a dance lesson or a drama class. “This will help get you out of your comfort zone to learn about the feeling of vulnerability in a safe environment,” she says.
Anderson adds that simply changing your behavior can also be a form of expanding your vulnerability threshold. For example, if you have a tendency to get defensive, the next time you feel that come up, take a deep breath and respond differently. Or, say you typically hold back on expressing how much you care about someone, challenge yourself to say those things to them. “You'll know you are increasing your capacity for vulnerability when you notice the physical sensations in your body that might be telling you not to do these things, but you choose to go ahead and do them anyway,” Anderson says.
6. Share your truth
At its core, vulnerability is about expressing your truth, whatever that may be, Fredheim says. Share how much you love and appreciate the people in your life. Share how you feel. Share your accomplishments and pride. And don’t just share the good stuff either. Feeling ashamed or insecure? Divulge that information to people you trust too.
7. Take responsibility for your thoughts
Just like it’s important to take responsibility for our actions, it’s also key that we own our thoughts and emotions too versus blaming them on something or someone outside of ourselves. “When you are willing to take responsibility in this way, it cracks open any defenses you may have,” Anderson says. “You are willing to let others see the whole of who you are. It shows you how powerless you once believed yourself to be and at the same time shows you how powerful you actually are.”
8. Practice, practice, practice
Lastly, like anything else, becoming more vulnerable takes practice. “You just have to put yourself out there and eventually the fear of rejection will melt away,” Fredheim says. “You’ll start to build a strong relationship with this practice where it becomes more and more natural to you to follow your own heart.”
Here's how to befriend your own mind, according to a meditation expert. Plus, how dancing like no one is watching can help improve your mood—quickly.
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