Contrary to popular belief, being vulnerable isn’t always a sign of weakness. It takes courage to stand in front of others and say “This is who I am.”
This is easier said than done, however.
Our natural desire for belonging stops us from being who we want for fear of rejection.
So we hide our true selves, leaving us with a lingering feeling of unfulfillment.
But as the poet Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
So here are 13 lessons that you can learn from vulnerable people to help you live your most authentic life; to share your own story.
1. They Accept Who They Are
Confronting ourselves can be a painful experience. We have to admit to ourselves that we were wrong before.
There were moments when we knew the right thing to do but didn’t do it anyway out of fear or embarrassment.
We may have always dreamed of pursuing a career in some industry but, looking at the limits of our own abilities, saw that it might not be the most achievable milestone.
Instead of avoiding these feelings, a vulnerable person faces them; they feel them all the way.
What they find is that once they are able to accept themselves, they no longer have anything to lose.
They become free from opinions because they’ve already found comfort in themselves.
2. They Show Compassion To Themselves
When we reflect on our past mistakes, we have the tendency to judge ourselves; to call ourselves out. “Oh, I was so stupid! How could I have done that?”
While it’s normal to admit moments when you weren’t acting your best, it’s still important to show yourself the compassion that you deserve, before you can express authentic compassion to others.
Vulnerability means taking care of yourself — all parts of yourself.
You liberate yourself from the pain of your past so that you can return to the present moment, where you are in total control of your next action.
3. They Accept What’s Out Of Their Control
No matter how hard you work to impress other people, ultimately, you can’t dictate what they think about you.
This is a limitation that vulnerable people accept. They admit that some things are out of their hands.
Instead of spending your energy trying to impose your will on things that will not change, it’s better to redirect it towards supporting your own actions.
Vulnerability means that you are willing to put yourself out there — your work, actions, words — and allow people to make do with it however they wish. It’s out of your control now.
4. They Like To Try New Things
There’s a quote attributed to Albert Einstein that goes “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new.”
Becoming a beginner again can feel embarrassing; when you’re putting the training wheels on your bike; or asking someone to hold your hand so you don’t slip and fall on the ice-skating rink.
We fabricate the weight of all the glares we believe we’re receiving.
The fact is that no one is tossing and turning at night thinking about how bad your form is — they’re too busy tossing and turning about theirs.
Or better yet, they completely forgot about you when they left.
Vulnerable people open themselves up to trying new things out of their own curiosity and enjoyment.
They face the “crowds” and focus on giving their best shot. They’re happy to fail and pick themselves back up again. They’re still learning, after all.
5. They Like Meaningful Connection
When you hide your true personality in front of others, it feels uncomfortable to be around them. You start hiding behind a mask.
You force yourself to agree along with them, but you know that you’re somehow lying to them.
Then at the end of the day, you take it off like you just came home from a draining day at work.
When we open ourselves up to others, we run the risk of getting hurt.
But the catch is that if you want a truly meaningful relationship with someone, you’re going to need to do just that — you’re going to need to be vulnerable.
6. They Stand Up For Themselves
When you plant your foot and tell the other person “No”, you immediately create some conflict.
This doesn’t always have to be in the form of fists flying, but you are definitely differentiating yourself from them. You push back on their ideas in favor of your own.
While we might usually concern ourselves with what other people might think of us — standing our ground and being “different” — vulnerable people place their concern elsewhere.
They’re more concerned about if the situation that they are in is in line with the values that they uphold.
If they feel threatened, they’ll put themselves out there and defend themselves.
7. They Accept Their Feelings
The sadness when you’re heartbroken; the frustration that you feel with your significant other; the attraction that you feel for your friend.
These are complicated feelings. Since they’re so significant, it’s normal to put on a pleasant face when meeting others. We hide our true feelings, even tending to avoid it ourselves.
When we deny our feelings, we can sense it; something’s not right. Facing these feelings would require vulnerability.
It’s admitting to yourself that your feelings are real. You don’t have to let it guide your actions, but accepting them already eases the pressure.
8. They Act Despite Their Feelings
When you know that you’re in love with someone, it can be scary to admit that to them.
There’s always that risk that you’re going to get rejected, which isn’t an enjoyable experience.
But there’s also the possibility that they feel the same. You don’t know. Vulnerability is putting your feelings out there even though you’re scared to death.
It’s gathering the courage to push through even if they’re feeling otherwise because you know there’s something more important ahead.
9. They Can Connect With Strangers
Meeting strangers always feels like a gamble; you never know what type of person they’re going to be.
We tailor our behavior to fit the ideals of other people because we don’t want to appear odd to them.
But that doesn’t matter because a vulnerable person is going to be themselves regardless.
Vulnerable people are secure enough in themselves to show their true personalities.
They know that the opinions of others about them are out of their control, so they’d rather spend their time being who they are.
Their authenticity can even be contagious.
It’s why no matter who they’re talking to, a vulnerable person showing their true selves can build meaningful relationships.
10. They’re Good Leaders
The fearless leader persona isn’t as effective as you might think. Instead of inspiring, it could cause an emotional rift between the leader and the team.
The team might find it difficult to find any meaningful connection with the leader, lowering their morale and dedication.
Vulnerability is necessary for effective leadership.
When a leader admits that their abilities can only go so far, they allow other members to shine with theirs.
Or if they express their hesitance with a project, other members can pitch in to suggest a better alternative.
Everyone’s voice gets heard. It builds teamwork and a sense of camaraderie among the group.
11. They Listen To Themselves
When we’re choosing what job to take, there are invariably going to be opinions from your others. “Do this because it makes the most money” or “We think you’ll be good at that!” are comment phrases that you might receive.
There is an opinion, however, that matters above all of that: yours.
When you listen to yourself — that voice that tells you your dreams in life — you are being vulnerable.
You open yourself up to potential criticisms, and possibly even backlash.
But what’s important is that you’re doing what you truly want to do.
When you’re honest with yourself, you’re honest with others too.
12. They Believe In Themselves
When we get knocked down, getting back up can be difficult.
There’s that negative self-talk that goes “You failed because you aren’t good enough.”
And maybe that voice is right. There’s a reason why you failed. But what matters is how you respond to it.
Vulnerable people can admit defeat. They’re willing to accept that maybe they don’t have the skills needed to accomplish certain skills. But they don’t let themselves feel down because of it.
They can always choose to improve their skills or learn new techniques. They could also accept their previous actions and learn from it.
Or they can accept that maybe some things aren’t for them. Whatever their choice, they always believe that they can get back up.
13. They Don’t Try To Be Perfect
Perfectionism can be dangerous. It can lead to burnout and crushing disappointment. That’s because perfectionism asks you to fight your natural self — a self that is naturally imperfect.
When you’re honest with yourself that you’re someone that makes mistakes; that forgets their keys; that spills their drink on themselves sometimes; that doesn’t make 100% of the basketballs that you shoot; or that doesn’t always get the highest grade, that’s the only time you can start improving and working towards becoming your best self.
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