Have you been hard-wired to harden up? You’re not alone.
Of all the life lessons we need to unlearn, it’s the belief that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness.
Vulnerability is a strength if you put it to use in the right setting, with the right person. It can unleash the potential for deeper, richer relationships – with your spouse, your children, your friends, and your colleagues.
When you learn to share the parts of yourself that you’ve been taught to conceal – your ‘dark side’ or Shadow Self – you begin a process of truth, growth, and freedom.
Setting the right stage for sharing your whole self.
Let me be clear at the outset: I don’t want or need you to share everything with everybody all the time.
Being vulnerable with everyone often backfires. You put your trust in someone and sometimes they betray that trust – they reveal themselves as being hurtful and dishonest. They take your scars and pain points and exploit them to their advantage. And you are worse off…
Being vulnerable in a constructive way means picking your moment, and your people. You need to seek out a trusted confidante: a pastor, a counselor, a life coach, a small circle of true friends.
How will you know you’ve found your people? They won’t judge you or try to fix you. They will listen to your story with an open heart and an open mind. They will give you a safe space to share your darkest thoughts and feelings without criticizing you or questioning your worth.
We are all the walking wounded.
When you’re grappling with your ‘dark side’ and feeling vulnerable it’s easy to think you’re the only one with these shadows haunting your past.
But every single one of us has a history scarred by mistakes, shame, guilt, embarrassment, something we wish to hide or erase from our life story. We are all a collection of scars at varying stages in the healing process. Just as your body heals from a physical wound over time with the proper care, so too do your emotional scars.
Accepting that your condition isn’t unique opens you up to a more genuine relationship with a committed confidante…remember, that confidante has wounds, too. Their capacity for compassion and empathy will be boundless.
Being vulnerable helps you thrive…not just survive.
You’ll often hear me say that life is a collection of experiences. And how we deal with them sets us on either a path of self-doubt and regrets or a path of life-long learning about ourselves and how we interact with the world around us.
When you approach the ‘negative’ life experiences as an opportunity to explore unchartered territory, rather than a place to block off from your mind and conceal, you are allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
You are allowing yourself to learn a life lesson. With the guidance of a committed confidante, you can process the negative emotions that were brought to the surface by the hurt, pain, or shame you felt at that moment. You can reframe them as a positive.
A healthy, fully functioning human being has at least one person in their life with whom they can be completely transparent. Interestingly, through that process of transparency, people often find they are more at ease with themselves and, by extension, with others when they’re going about their daily life. They have more space in their hearts for their loved ones, for personal and even professional growth.
The sense of ease that comes with knowing there is someone out there who knows your Shadow Self and still finds you worthy of their care gives you the confidence to be more authentic, more compassionate, and humble in your daily endeavours.
It’s time to Get Naked.
No, not physically naked – though I do approve of skinny-dipping.
It’s time to get emotionally naked.
You learned early on in life to harden up. That suit of armor you’re wearing is weighing you down…so take it off. Maybe you’re a bit shy…if you’re not a revealer take your time peeling off the layers. Find someone who listens at your pace, who follows your rhythm. But find someone.
Keeping parts of yourself hidden can lead to physical, mental, and emotional sickness. Unlock the secrets you’ve been hiding and set yourself free to live a healthy, authentic life as a whole being.
We are all presented with a choice when we start a new day: do we show our true selves, or do we choose to remain an enigma? I hope you choose to be true to yourself and find that committed confidante.
Maybe you don’t know where to start. There are resources you can read that will get you started on your journey. If you’d like help talking though your next steps contact me and we can start a conversation about vulnerability and the freedom and power that come with it.
Did you enjoy this article? You might also find these helpful on your journey:
This article was originally published in 2018, and has been updated in 2020 just for you!