Are you scared to feel vulnerable? Most of us are. Admitting a vulnerability too often feels like admitting a weakness, and no one wants to appear weak, to themselves or other people. But as Tania Luna and LeeAnn Renninger discuss in their book Surprise, by denying vulnerability you also deny yourself the chance to embrace the unpredictable and to form closer connections.
It’s scary to expose yourself emotionally, and that’s what being vulnerable is. You’re letting go of a level of control, and the fears of how others will react to your “true self” can prove daunting. But vulnerability doesn’t have to be a threat—it can be an opportunity. It’s a chance to open yourself up to more of life’s experiences. It means connecting with other people on a more truthful, sincere level. By reframing vulnerability as openness, you embrace deeper levels of emotions and relationships.
So how do you go about “reframing vulnerability”? Here are a few ideas:
Own Your Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is how you handle them. Do you hide from them, or try to place blame for them elsewhere? When you do that, you’re missing the chance to learn from them and to show others how to do the same. Mistakes can trigger shame, and talking about shame is exactly what is needed to move on from it. Plus, when you admit to not being perfect, others often gain more trust in you as a result, since they can see that you are willing to share.
Go One Notch Further
In every interaction you have, practice revealing just one notch of information more than you feel comfortable with. You can do this in many ways: admitting a weakness, sharing a strength, telling a personal story, or even with what you wear or how you react. Research has shown that people with easy-to-read facial expressions (facial vulnerability) are perceived as more likeable than people with veiled emotions. This openness inspires others to lower their guard as well, forging greater trust.
Ask for Help
Don’t try to solve every problem alone. You may hate asking for help because you feel it makes you look incompetent or helpless. But if you can get past that fear, you’ll discover that most people are inherently inclined to support each other, and you never know what amazing surprises can result from those interactions. If nothing else, you’ll make your life a little easier!