Putting yourself out there. Going all in. Airing your dirty laundry.
These are all cute little phrases for the one thing that scares us the most: vulnerability.
It’s one of those terms that’s become a buzzword in the past few years, thanks to the success of Dr. Brene Brown’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability. Everyone from Tony Robbins to Elizabeth Gilbert is telling us to be more vulnerable, and even Oprah has addressed the subject on her television network, but how does this concept truly impact our lives in the real world?
Certified therapist Misha Granado, MPH, MS, is the founder of Love Grows: The Relationship Consultants and author of the inspirational journal B.L.O.O.M. Becoming Love to Overcome Obstacles in Me. She says the benefit of being vulnerable is in cultivating a deeper relationship with others and with oneself.
“Vulnerability is an authentic truth, and it is only when we are honest with ourselves can we become honest with others. It requires one to remove their ‘masks’ and all the ‘isms’ that either they picked up or others placed upon them, so they can be reintroduced to their authentic selves,” Granado says.
When it comes to relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, showing vulnerability breeds compassion, according to Granado, because when you recognize and accept your own flaws, you can then see the humanness in others, which allows for a deeper connection.
“Vulnerability is the ability to become comfortable with being ’emotionally naked’ in the presence of another. Emotional nakedness is to reveal your scars, stretchmarks, flaws, insecurities, fears, dreams, hopes, etc. to another knowing there is always a risk of being judged, ostracized or belittled,” Granado says.
”This requires trust and a safe space and both do not happen with merely the passing of time; instead, both parties must consciously commit to creating these safe spaces. Trust begets more trust and begins from the very beginning. Honoring your word is often the very first opportunity to begin to establish trust.”
While being more transparent in your relationships may lead to a stronger bond, Granado cautions against opening up to people who have not earned your trust. She says once you create a loving, healthy relationship with yourself, you will begin to trust your own life decisions, including who to let in and who to let go.
“You will no longer allow others to abuse you on any level (regardless of their relationship to you). You are able to establish healthy boundaries and remove yourself from people and situations that are not aligned with your highest good. You will no longer participate in your own abuse,” Granado says.
So what it all amounts to is this: do the work to discover who you really are, accept yourself (flaws and all). Only then will you be able to let go of the fear of rejection and open up to others for deeper, more meaningful relationships.