Being vulnerable is difficult for many people. It can conjure up intense feelings such as fear of being judged, loss of control and weakness. When we want to project a certain image to the world, we may try to avoid vulnerability. It is as though being vulnerable will leave us feeling alone and abandoned because we will not be accepted for who we really are.
My beliefs and my work as a coach show me that vulnerability is the key to feeling connected, purposeful and thriving. At the moment that we feel vulnerable, it presents us with a choice. The choice is one between acting from the ego or acting from your authentic self. While the ego wants separateness, control and predictability, the authentic self wants love, connection and compassion.
I think we have reached a critical point in our culture where many people are literally burnt out and exhausted from the demands of the control driven ego. It is getting harder to hold on to a sense of control when so many personal and world situations seem beyond our control.
Being vulnerable allows us to let go of the struggle for control. It allows us the freedom to enter into relationships where truth and authenticity are valued, where flaws and strengths can all be seen, and where a shared connection with others can serve to empower us. Vulnerability is the place where true community building can occur.
If we can understand that vulnerability is actually a positive, life affirming emotion that can lead to empowerment and connection, then perhaps we can learn to overcome our resistance to it. However, it means getting out of our own way and questioning habitual reactions.
Here are some questions for you to consider that should help you examine your own perspectives on vulnerability.
1. What is it costing me to avoid uncomfortable issues?
2. Where have I been unwilling to risk?
3. Where do I hold myself back?
4. In what ways will facing my vulnerability give me strength.
5. In what ways will facing my vulnerability bring me connection to others?
6. In what ways will facing my vulnerability bring me peace of mind?
The author, Philip Okrend, CPCC is a certified personal and professional coach with offices in Raleigh, NC