I started this week's post with a completely different topic in mind and had most of it typed up. However, as I went to grab my computer to finish it up God placed the word vulnerability in my head and on my heart and I knew I needed to pivot. That word, vulnerability as I have gotten older seems to become a word that I focus on more and more. When you have experienced life and gone through certain situations and scenarios being vulnerable becomes almost something forbidden doesn't it? You don't necessarily think you're NOT vulnerable however your behavior, those walls, that defense mechanism is evidence you are not necessarily trying to be vulnerable either. Then you look up the definition for the word vulnerable and it reads "susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm". Geez, the definition is even scary, like who wants to purposefully make themselves susceptible to physical or EMOTIONAL harm, yikes!! Brene Brown defined it as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” (2012). We have been programmed to believe that vulnerability is a four letter word, that it's weak, and that self protection is the better route, but is it really?
When I first got divorced all I knew was that I needed to focus on NOT being who I was in my marriage. So in dating I become "hard", I became the girl who dropped people quick, the girl who had zero tolerance. I had to prove nobody would or could play me basically. I wasn't going to stick around for anything I didn't see as benefitting me. That was all cool at first but as time went on I begin to look at differently. When my friends would say things like "girl we know you don't play" or "girl you know you be unbothered" I shifted and no longer saw that as a compliment. I dug deeper, I did my work throughout the years. I started a journey of first trying to figure out "why" I was dropping folks like flies so quick and realized this was a defense mechanism, I was protecting myself at all costs. I would drop you when I saw "shifty" behavior before you could do anything I perceived as harm, like that definition says. After I understood that I started releasing those fears and it has been SCARY as heck and it has failed me but I did it though and I keep doing it, I'm doing it by even writing this post. I let my guards completely down and I became vulnerable in a relationship, did it work out in my favor? no, not from the outside however it did because what it showed me is that I was capable of vulnerability and essentially capable of a loving healthy connection and now I know I am truly worthy and ready for deep intimate connections.
I observe people in a way I don't think most people get or understand. I look at behaviors and I study to try and find deeper meaning behind their ways. Instead of being dismissive or generalizing people into categories I truly try to understand what's behind the mask. I see the people that make jokes where not appropriate, people who appear to be "strong", or even the people who lack empathy and are callous in their approach to real life situations with friends and family and that word vulnerability pops up quite often. Kids are able to be vulnerable most of the time, they don't develop certain fears until an adult around them told them that they should. We tell kids both girls and boys to be "strong" , "don't show them you're afraid" all of this is queuing little people to be "big people" with connection issues.
Our vulnerability "checker" becomes broken at some point but the act of being vulnerable is far much more rewarding than not. Sure, it's not a guarantee that just because you became vulnerable everything will work out perfectly but you will have tried right? if you allow yourself to be vulnerable not only is it a sign of true confidence and I say this because if you're willing to "risk" yourself emotionally and you know the potential outcome may not go in your favor, you are trusting that regardless you will be "ok" . This deepens our ability to build true and genuine connections not just in our personal relationships but in the workplace as well, the Harvard Business Review has an article called "What Bosses Gain by Being Vulnerable" and essentially in summary they gain "solid" employees through the art of human connection. When you have true and real authentic connections with people in the workplace as a boss, you gain people that will not want to let you down, they trust you. When you can be "real" and vulnerable in your personal life you're getting the same result, true and real connections with people. You are also more trusting when you have authentic connections, when people can see you for who you are exactly and you can see them as well. This is an automatic trust builder. This will in turn increase your self worth.
When you are able to let your guards down and get real and true connections from people you are really saying to yourself that you're worthy, being closed up and not letting the guards down is a sure sign that you may lack true and genuine self worth but also confidence. You do not feel deserving of a real connection and why is that? You have got to dig deep into what has diminished your worth and causes you to pretend and fake your confidence.
Vulnerability builds intimacy in your relationships, when you are "naked" with others in who you are the deeper level of intimacy will come next. Now this doesn't mean go telling your business to everybody you know *giggles*, you will not say Tracee Lynn told you to share everything with the world, no this is not what I'm recommending for you lol, but just taking "risk" with the right people. When you're comfortable with opening up, they may open up too and you may see a different side of that relationship.
So how do you become vulnerable??? It's not an easy process but the first step is transparency, you have to be ok living in your truth and knowing that if you share who you are genuinely with people that it's the first sign that you're comfortable with who yourself and where you are currently on your journey, it's having conversations beyond the surface.
Next, you have to begin to take baby steps outside of your comfort zone, if that means walking up to a person that you wouldn't normally walk up to and speak to them, that's a step. Now in the pandemic that isn't as likely but essentially I'm saying having conversations with people outside of your comfort zone. I'm the person that in the store by the time I leave I know the cashier has two kids, if the kids are adults, if she's single, what she's eating for dinner and if she's getting new carpet in her house you name it. I'm the person people feel "safe" talking too. Me offering that safe space is also vulnerability. For you it may be finally opening up to someone and telling them how you really feel about them or about something they may have done to hurt you or that you want something deeper, it's all a step.
You have got to get to know who you truly are, once you know who you truly are then you are comfortable with sharing yourself with others. All in all in order to become vulnerable you have to first acknowledge that your walls are up, ask yourself "why" are they up, dig deeper into what you want out of life and begin to take the steps to embrace the positives and discover what it would look like to be more vulnerable. You'll decrease your anxiety induced fears from sharing "yourself" and you will overall improve the quality of your life and your relationships.
I didn't care to be the tough girl anymore, I didn't care to be "strong" or impatient. I began a journey of choosing true and deep connection starting with myself. I chose me. I chose my new strength and what I deemed as strong. I chose my inner work and this has made me more powerful than I could ever imagine. It has made me confident in knowing everything won't always go as I choose but I'm confident in knowing that I'll be "ok" because I build in quality over quantity. I dug deeper and I chose my inner work.
I challenge you to take a vulnerability challenge starting today, to choose you and do your work to get yourself one step closer to a greater and more fulfilling future.