Whether you’re in a work meeting or spending time with people in your personal life, tapping into our own self-love and vulnerability is difficult and, often, terrifying.
So often in life, we think that people only want to see the good parts of who we are. We avoid talking about difficulties and frustrations, and instead plaster a smile onto our faces and say that everything is going fine.
We often think that by refusing to be vulnerable with those around us, we’re protecting ourselves. We relabel it as self-love. While there are certainly instances in which you can’t safely be vulnerable, not allowing yourself to be vulnerable to anyone is actually the opposite of self-love and care.
That’s what I want to talk about in today’s article. I want to focus on the intersection between vulnerability and self-love, as well as give advice about how you can start taking safe steps toward vulnerability in your everyday life.
What is Vulnerability?
Vulnerability is allowing yourself to open up emotionally to another person. You haven’t put up any walls or defenses, it’s just you being wholly and truly yourself.
Being vulnerable is difficult because it can feel like you’re setting yourself up for rejection. If someone isn’t willing to accept who you are in your fully whole and emotional state, this can feel particularly wounding.
That’s why we tend to set up defenses: to prevent people from ever truly knowing us and therefore “protecting” ourselves from the sting of rejection.
But at what cost? We’ll get into that argument a bit later on.
What is Self-Love?
Self-love is knowing, accepting, and respecting yourself for exactly who you are. You take the time to regularly tune into your own well-being (including physical and mental health) and actively take care of yourself.
When we’re practicing self-love, it often involves taking the time to get to know ourselves through daily practices like meditation or journaling. We take care of ourselves by getting enough sleep, getting regular exercise in a way that feels right, and practicing proper nutrition.
Taking care of yourself can also come in the form of ending relationships that no longer serve you, or otherwise removing yourself from harmful situations.
How Vulnerability is Part of Self-Love
People often make the argument that they’re unable to be vulnerable because they’re practicing self-love. Sometimes, this is extremely important. There may be situations and relationships in which being vulnerable will ultimately bring harm.
If that’s the case, I would highly recommend speaking to a trained counselor and finding the safest way to remove yourself from that particular situation.
Other times, though, people use self-love as an excuse, when in fact, vulnerability is part of self-love.
Creating close relationships has been proven to have a direct, positive effect on our overall health. Having close friends and people you can turn to can decrease stress and anxiety, lower your blood pressure, and even help you recover more quickly from diseases. These relationships are also tied to living a longer life.
Part of creating these close relationships is opening up, being vulnerable, and allowing people to get close to you. It sounds terrifying, because the people closest to us often have the ability to hurt us the worst.
Still, there is nothing more fulfilling than having someone you can talk to and feels comfortable talking to you in return. In doing so, you’re taking care of your emotional and even physiological needs, which is absolutely a form of self-love.
How to be Vulnerable
Once you’ve opened yourself up to the idea of being vulnerable, you may feel at a loss for how to proceed. If that’s the case, I’ve gathered a few suggestions for practicing vulnerability in your life:
Learn What Vulnerability Means For You
Take some alone time in order to learn more about what being vulnerable might look like in your life. What are your thoughts surrounding the idea, and why do you think that is? What would it be like to push yourself out of your comfort zone and open up to someone?
Learn to be more comfortable with your feelings, including ones like shame, embarrassment, frustration, and annoyance. Again, you may consider speaking to a counselor to help you get there, particularly since this whole process is a journey.
Share How You’re Feeling
One of the biggest parts of being vulnerable is being willing to share what’s going on beneath the surface. If someone has hurt you or you feel upset about a situation, tell someone about it.
This might be something that happened at work that you feel you need to talk about. Or, it could be having a deeply personal conversation with someone about your personal life.
You’ll learn your personal boundaries and methods for approaching your own emotions and others’ safely, but it’s important to address them. Don’t keep them hidden away.
Vocalize Your Needs
Everybody has needs, whether they’re personal or professional.
You may need someone to look over the reports you sent them two weeks ago, and you may also need someone in your life to stop commenting on your clothing choices.
Listen to your feelings and find a way to directly and honestly tell the person. Also, be willing to accept that how they react is completely out of your control. You can only be respectful and honest in the moment.
Listen and Make Your Own Voice Heard
A close relationship is built on the ability to share sensitive information. When someone comes to you with a delicate situation, it’s important to listen to their feelings and approach talking about it with the same delicacy. It may also include getting them outside help, if appropriate.
In the same way, if you’re trying to be vulnerable and someone isn’t listening to you the way that you need them to, feel free to express this. Don’t be afraid to say, “I feel like you’re not actually listening to what I’m saying, and I find this hurtful.”
When someone hurts or disappoints us, it can be easy to put our walls back up and remove ourselves from the situation. This is sometimes necessary for our own safety.
If safety is not a concern, though, I would urge you to remain vulnerable. The person may not realize they’re hurting you, so you have to be willing to be open with them about that.
Getting in Touch With Self-Love and Vulnerability
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable takes hard work, but it’s completely worth it. Overall, it will help improve your relationships, as well as your well-being.
Are you still stuck on how to be more vulnerable in your life? Could you benefit from some more direct coaching? That’s why I’m here. I’d love to work with you so that you can feel more vulnerable and build stronger, happier relationships. Get in touch to schedule a meeting.