Permitting yourself to be vulnerable may imply weakness, a lack of character and an inability to meet life on life’s terms. On the flip side, it forces you to confront aspects of yourself you might otherwise never see. Vulnerability brings forth strength allowing you to face your fears. It is through this process, you discover who you are.
After failing at my first business, I faced my own vulnerability in nearly every aspect of my life, from my self-esteem to my marriage. No part of me was left unscathed. I came through it having learned some valuable lessons.
Here are the 8 gifts I received from vulnerability:
Vulnerability keeps your ego in check as it facilitates humility. Being completely real with yourself and others highlights your needs, so you can focus on meeting them. You see who and where you are from a new perspective. You meet your true self, and in doing so, right-size your ego.
Empathy is the ability to share another person’s emotions. Rather than pity or compassion, empathy occurs when you connect with the emotional state of another. This happens most often when a person is vulnerable thus through the experience, you learn how to meet others where they are.
When you express vulnerability, you begin to build trust in yourself and others. You can’t learn inside your safe zone. Developing trust involves giving something you value to someone, then watching what the person does with it.
“Trust each other again and again. When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities of which they were previously unaware.” – David Armistead
Vulnerable people are courageous. Each time you allow yourself the freedom to be real, regardless of the cost, you gain a measure of courage, a resource no one can take from you unless you give it away willingly. Courage is starting over after a failure, risking a chance no one else believes in, or taking an unpopular stand rather than compromising your values.
Vulnerability allows you to find strength through weakness. You are strongest when you allow yourself to be weak because in this state, you are willing to let others in to provide support. You discover what you are made of in doing so.
Loyalty occurs when you choose to spend a bit more money or time with a business or person you know is honest rather than spending less with little confidence in who you are supporting. It’s walking into your favorite Starbucks to pay $5.00 for a latte you could have made at home for $2.00. You love the products, are loyal to the brand and the baristas. Loyalty keeps you coming back.
Acceptance of self and others is facilitated through vulnerability. Not only do you meet yourself when you let your walls down, you start to understand and accept this weaker part of you. It is through weakness we find strength.
When you are vulnerable, you lose your preoccupation with keeping your walls intact. This gives you the opportunity to focus on other things. By bringing it into focus, you see the world around you with greater clarity. With clarity comes the ability to make good decisions from a position of strength and intention. You’ll work faster with more accuracy when your objective is clear, no matter what you are working toward.
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller
Giving myself permission to be vulnerable with others has brought nothing but good things. Have I been hurt in the process? Yes, but far less than I expected. When I find myself pulling inward, I remind myself how many positive experiences I’ve had each time I left my comfort zone.
When my first entrepreneurial venture failed, I had to work through a lot of shame and fear. I was lost and thought the failure was permanent. Vulnerability was my state of being for months. Out of the loss came new strength and the determination to try again.
Remembering everything I learned the first time around, I took a big risk and created a successful company. My failure was the foundation on which I constructed my dream. I built my brand, developed incredibly loyal customer relationships, had an amazing team of employees and fed my passion.
The willingness to work as long and hard as it takes is over-valued, unless you work on getting to know yourself. Only then will you appreciate the necessity of letting your guard down. The ability to be yourself, to see the need for authenticity, this is the ultimate gift of vulnerability.