It’s almost human nature to associate vulnerabilities with weaknesses. After all, being vulnerable is defined as being “defenseless” and “open to attack.” And sure, that’s not ideal for things like your home security or bank account. But when it comes to matters of the heart, being vulnerable is not only good—it’s necessary.
Being vulnerable is not synonymous with being weak.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. But it’s a visceral feeling that showing any type of weakness could expose us to judgment or being taken advantage of. So instead of acknowledging weaknesses, we mask them and try to keep these parts of us hidden from others.
But the thing is, being vulnerable is human. Just as we are made up of our successes and triumphs, we are also made up of our mistakes, fears, and shortcomings. We’re a collage of all our beautifully enmeshed traits. And these colorful parts and pieces are what help us learn and grow.
So find strength in your so-called weaknesses.
Acknowledging them is a necessary step to loving more wholly, feeling more empathetically, and connecting with others more intimately.
Shame and guilt are the roots of all vulnerabilities.
Dr. Brene Brown, who quite literally wrote the book on this topic, states that without shame or guilt, we are incapable of experiencing human emotion.
She goes on to say that these two feelings—shame and guilt—are at the epicenter of all our vulnerabilities, because we innately fear rejection. And the things within us that elicit feelings of shame or guilt are often the very things that we fear would make others not like us, want to date us, or be friends with us. So to protect ourselves from this rejection, we lock up and hide these vulnerable parts of ourselves.
But when you leave room to be vulnerable, you leave room for love.
They don’t call it falling in love for nothing. Let’s face it—love is basically one giant trust fall. And it can be as terrifying as it is exhilarating to surrender independence, solitude, and self-sufficiency to another person who could potentially break our heart. It’s a big risk. And anyone who has ever been hurt knows how scary it can be, for few pains are greater than that of a broken heart.
But the alternative is much scarier. Because if you never allow yourself to become vulnerable—if you never put your heart on the line—you essentially never allow yourself to love or be loved. And that is a far greater loss than rejection.
So, lean into the discomfort.
Being vulnerable and exposed can be really uncomfortable. It’s kind of like that dream where you’re at work and look down only to realize you forgot your pants—but this time it’s real life. It’s awkward and even excruciating at times, but if you truly want to rise to the occasion of this life you are given, you might as well give it a shot and see what happens.
So let your soft spots show, in whatever way that is for you. Everyone has different weaknesses and unique perspectives or experiences that can trigger feelings of inadequacies. But remember, these things don’t make you weak. So unlock the doors and let people in. Something wonderful could happen.
You are good and worthy.
You are. If you don’t think it, tell yourself this many times, in many ways, for as long as it takes to believe it. No matter what you’ve done or where you’re from, you are good and worthy. Trust that it’s true even when you don’t believe it.
If shame and guilt are in fact at the root of vulnerabilities, it’s important to accept these feelings and love yourself regardless. When you can see that you are worthy of good and lovely things, you allow yourself to receive good and lovely things. And that, above all, is most important.
Photo by Alex Wang
Laci Mosier is a copywriter living and loving in Austin, Texas. She and her one-eyed pirate dog live for exploring and discovering life’s magic. She is most inspired by yoga, running, Kundalini meditation, good books, great jams and even better coffee. Getting lost is where she is most often found. Follow her on the Twittersphere or Instagram.