Vulnerability is widely mistaken for weakness. There is a misconception that having emotions and showing feelings makes you a weak and fragile person. However, vulnerability is quite the opposite. It makes you strong, creates resiliency, and opens you up to finding authentic and genuine happiness. As human beings we experience a fluctuation of emotions daily. Most often, we mask our emotions because we are afraid of how we will be judged by other people. When we hide how we truly feel, we lose the connection to ourselves and to other people, and this disconnection creates a very lonely space for individuals. We find ourselves in a constant struggle with how we really feel, how we see ourselves, and how we look to others. When there is not a true balance in our feelings and the way we act, we find ourselves unhappy, disengaged, and even depressed. Vulnerability is what connects one human to another. There is an outstanding want and need to feel connected to people, and the most valued connections are those that are created through authenticity and honesty.
Many individuals are taught to hide their feelings, and learn that it may be easier to bury them deep inside to avoid conflict and criticism. Many people are told to “suck it up”, and were not ever told that it was okay to feel a certain way, and definitely not taught how to speak about feelings. It may seem easier to ignore true feelings because it may cause a problem, or it is just plain old scary to reveal yourself, but this often just creates a discomforting feeling within yourself that could last years or even a lifetime. We need to stop pretending that it is okay to ignore our true thoughts and emotions, and start encouraging the acceptance of what is essentially human nature, emotion.
When do we feel happiness? Think about your happiest moments in your life. Most often, they are times when you are at peace with yourself and your environment. They are when your emotions are genuine and exposed, because how you feel on the inside is coexisting with what is happening on the outside. Every day we flow in and out of positive and negative emotions. People often find themselves in upsetting situations because of a miscommunication or a misunderstanding, which causes a dissonance between two people. This discomfort could be put at ease if communication is open, receptive, and real. The best thing we can do for ourselves to achieve the happiness we want is to settle in to the discomfort of emotions. You should remember 3 things:
1. If it is uncomfortable, you’re probably doing it right- We do whatever we can (usually) to avoid the hard stuff. We want to avoid the arguments, avoid being made fun of, avoid hard truths, and anything that may cause us to feel any negative emotions. Avoidance is a great way to never feel anything. People resort to this because it is simply uncomfortable saying how you really feel. When you get that knot in the pit of your stomach or that lump in your throat that should be an encourager to keep going. No one ever got anywhere by being comfortable.
2. You are not on trial, no one should judge- When you find yourself worrying about what others will think or say about you, you are putting your self-worth in the hands of people who probably do not value you. We cannot control what others will say to us or do to us, but we can control how we feel about ourselves. Find who you are, what you stand for, and be aware of how you feel about things. Be confident in yourself. Once you support yourself emotionally, you will let go of fearing what others will think of you. Not everyone will like you, not everyone will understand you, but there are people who will. Learn what true friendships are and confide in those.
3. Own it- Everyone handles situations differently. It is important to become aware of your emotions in situations and take ownership of them. Your feelings are your own and they are real. Do not let people tell you that you should not feel a certain way about something, you feltit for a reason, and this is simply okay. Your emotions are not wrong. Once you become aware of how you feel about something and why, it is easier to express to someone else.
The Truth about Vulnerability
1. It is scary- but will make you stronger
2. You feel better after expressing yourself- a weight is lifted
3. It is a difficult process for most people
4. Vulnerability creates genuine human connections
5. Your feelings are never wrong- do not feel ashamed of them
6. Speaking about your emotions creates confidence in yourself
7. It’s a process
8. Increases self-worth
9. Creates stronger relationships
10. Helps you live an authentic life
For more on the importance of vulnerability and how it increases happiness and belonging, please see the video below of researcher Brene’ Brown and her study on what it means to be vulnerable. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability