Why Vulnerability Shows Courage and Strength

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Photo © Jessica Felicio 

"Stop being weak; it makes you look vulnerable. It's your fault if you get hurt - you left yourself too vulnerable." These are the dangerous ideas that society has associated with vulnerability. Society is good at promoting toxic ideas that do not serve our mental, physical or in this case, human needs.

But you don't have to listen to that noise. You don't have to fit the status quo. It's in your best interest to rebel against the negative connotations and learn to embrace your vulnerability. None of us will escape being human. Vulnerability is not a choice but a condition of our mortal experience.

What exactly is vulnerability? It is being open to the possibility of being hurt, either physically or emotionally. It doesn't sound like a good thing, but the fact is, being open allows people to release whatever is holding them back and welcome the opportunity for joy to enter. It is courageous to be vulnerable. If you embrace this human quality, your heart is all in. Therefore, you can live and love more wholly and authentically.

If you are a guarded person, this might seem like the scariest thing anyone's ever said to you. How do we allow room for pain and joy? One way is to stop trying to be perfect.

Every human is beautifully flawed. Perfection is just a security blanket we use to find order and protect ourselves from the messy truth. Additionally, stop using external sources to numb yourself from your humanity. Drugs and alcohol are not the only culprits here. When you overeat and gain weight, the layers of fat can sometimes act as layers of protection, a way to keep people out. Many of us are guilty of putting a barrier between ourselves and joy. When we think about the possible adverse outcomes instead of focusing on what's right, we aim to save ourselves from the hurt of trying and failing.

Along with that, we stifle any possibility of things working out. We can not unlock our true potential without being vulnerable to all the options and taking risks, nor can we truly connect or empathise with others. From this, you can understand that without risk-taking, we are closed off to experiences like achieving a successful career, true love and psychological wellness.

However, we can practice all of the above and still not attain the ultimate freedom of vulnerability. We need to take it one step further. We need to believe one crucial element: We are all worthy! This part is important because once we face that realisation, we are impervious to any adverse outcomes.

In an unworthy state, we put ourselves out there, and our happiness is based on the reactions of others. Society, once again, has ingrained in our minds the notion that others' perceptions of us are the end-all-be-all. What you have to offer is the prize. When things do not work out, or people act negatively toward you, that says a whole lot about them, but nothing about you. In a pure state, we can accept pain in a healthy way and move on. It's important to process pain because it helps us grow, but it should not deter you from being your beautiful self in the future. You should always be the loving, caring and kind person you are, regardless of how it is received. If people don't appreciate you, it's their loss.

We must also accept vulnerability in others. People who have a hard time being vulnerable are often impatient. This, "big girls don't cry" mentality is detrimental because it teaches others to hide their pain. It often results in resentment and anger issues. When we mistreat others, we are robbing them of their ability to experience the most radically beautiful emotions and experiences.

We need to be gentle with each other and encourage people to open up. In this way, we can foster a world of genuine human connection and support, a world where to cry or to need is not equated with weakness. Find the strength to be vulnerable and trust in your resilience to deal with any outcome thrown your way. Anything less, and you are holding yourself back in every area of your life. Wear your heart on your sleeve, and the world will be yours.

Additional Sources: Brene Brown on The Power of Vulnerability, How to Embrace Vulnerability as Your Greatest Strength