Vulnerability is a theme that’s been coming up for me a lot in the past few weeks. Over the years, I’ve learned that when something is really present for me like this, I’d better share it because it’s also “up” for lots of other people.
First, let me define what I mean by vulnerability. There are two faces of vulnerability, and they stem from either fear or love. We’re most familiar with fear-based vulnerability, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who likes to experience that particular flavor. Fear-based vulnerability can be described as being in a state where you are open to attack or susceptible to being wounded, either physically or emotionally. It makes you want to close down your heart and keep your secrets to yourself. When you feel vulnerable in a fear-based way, you shut yourself down from having a deep connection with another person because you don’t trust that he/she will or can keep you safe.
Love-based vulnerability is the same as the fear-based variety, but with one very important distinction. I also think of love vulnerability as “authentic vulnerability.” The distinction with this type of openness is that you trust yourself enough to open your heart and share your secrets, even when you don’t know whether or not the person you’re opening to has the capacity to keep you safe. Your sense of who you are is not dependent on how others perceive you, so you’re not afraid to share who you really are.
With authentic vulnerability, because your self esteem is not dependent on others, you have the freedom to approach any situation with an open heart. You have the ability to stay centered in grounded in self love, even when you put your authentic self in front of strangers. You can speak your truth and make requests that will help you get your needs met. That doesn’t mean that you experience no fear; instead, it means that you’re able to manage the fear and move through it to put your true self out there for others to receive, appreciate, admire, or ignore.
Here’s what I’ve noticed in my recent adventures into authentic vulnerability: it is utterly liberating! Of course, to get to that place of liberation, I was sobbing my heart out in the shower an hour before my first adventure (my first networking meeting in San Jose). The frightened child in me didn’t want to do it, but the wiser part of me quietly assured her that everything would be fine. Once I got the crying fit out of the way, I felt more centered and poised than I’d felt in a long time. I felt ready to express the vulnerability I felt as a result of being in a new city with no friends. And guess what? I made some new friends.
When you’re willing and able to express yourself in an authentically vulnerable way, your heart opens wider and people are naturally drawn to you. Now, imagine what that would be like in your relationship if you don’t normally let yourself be vulnerable with your partner.
This is a big imagining, because the closer you are with someone, the more difficult it is to begin being authentically vulnerable if you’ve been protecting yourself from him or her in the relationship (even if it’s been an unconscious protection). It also happens to be a great way to quickly deepen and strengthen your relationship quickly. When one partner leads the way to authentic vulnerability, the other will follow. We all crave this level of connection, but we’re afraid to be the first one to bare our hearts. I invite you to be brave!
Ask yourself these three questions:
- On a scale of 1-10 (10=most) how authentically vulnerable do I allow myself to be with my partner?
- On a scale of 1-10, how important is it for me to create more authentic vulnerability between us?
- What is the biggest obstacle for me when it comes to being authentically vulnerable with my partner?
If you’d like help with becoming more authentically vulnerable, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free “Authentic Vulnerability” session. Just be sure to put “Authentic Vulnerability” as the subject, include your full name, and the answer to these three questions.
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