Vulnerable. adjective. Exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Vulnerability — something many of us avoid due to fear of being judged, hurt, or failure. To be vulnerable means to put ourselves in a position that could potentially hurt us.
Many of us fear vulnerability because somewhere in our lives, we’ve been hurt before. Whether it be heartbreak, rejection, or criticism. It made us aware of ourselves and we consciously avoid the possibility of being vulnerable again by dodging situations that could cause us the same pain, embarrassment, or sense of rejection again.
But vulnerability doesn’t have to be a negative thing. To be vulnerable means to put yourself out there and be open to possibilities and opportunities. Fear is only a temporary thing constructed by a negative association with the event or activity.
For some, public speaking can be a crippling experience. As you stand on stage, a hundred pairs of eyes staring at you, watching your every movement and listening to your every word - panic starts to rise as you become acutely self-conscious of the potential judgment and silent thoughts directed towards you.
Your vulnerability can be leveraged
Leverage. Verb. Use (something) to maximum advantage.
When you open yourself up to the possibility of criticism and rejection, you’re also opening yourself up to chance and growth.
Have you ever been afraid to ask a question? To put yourself up as a potential candidate for something like a promotion? Not doing so only inhibits your opportunity for change.
To leverage your vulnerability means to not let your fears prevent you from moving towards what you want in life.
Fear comes from your inability to control the outcome of a situation to suit what you desire. To be vulnerable means you are exposing yourself to that fear on purpose. In order to leverage your vulnerability, you need to take ownership of that fear so you can mold the final outcome to suit your needs.
How to change and model your fear the way you want it to be
Everything begins in the mind and ends in the mind. While we cannot control how things and people react externally, we have complete power over our mind and how we view things.
The stories we tell ourselves shape how we view the world and interpret how the world views us. Change that narrative in order to change your viewpoint towards your fears.
Rather than telling yourself that you suck at something, extend that voice further. Yes, you may suck but it is also the first step at getting better. The fact that you know that you suck and want to get better means that you have something to measure against in a few days, a few weeks, a few months.
The trick is to accept that negative thought and then transform it into a positive one. You have to embrace the fear in order to own it.
Owning your fears lets you safely be vulnerable
To shy away from being vulnerable means that you are trying to protect yourself against some sort of pain. Identifying what it is you’re afraid of, examining it, and turn it upside down will allow you to construct a different narrative for the fear.
While your body may react differently, if you mentally have ownership of your fears, you have the ability to pause and readjust your natural reaction against the thing that scares you. Whilst feeling vulnerable and exposed, you have the power to change the possible outcome and adjust your physical reaction in order to achieve your desired outcome.
Practice purposeful vulnerability
When we purposefully put ourselves into positions of vulnerability — whether it be talking to strangers at a bar, presenting your ideas to the boss, or even asking for directions — you are allowing yourself to get used to the feeling and idea of rejection.
Many of us fear situations that put us in a vulnerable situation because of how it makes us feel. Whether it be embarrassment or shame, by practicing purposeful vulnerability, we learn to not overdramatize the situation in our heads.
When we expose our vulnerable selves enough, we begin to collect a series of experiences that helps realign our viewpoint of the world and makes us less fearful of it. Over time, it allows us to safely be vulnerable without the associated fears that come with it.
To be vulnerable also means to expose yourself to fear. But the two don’t have to always be together. You can control your fear but giving yourself an alternative voice over the negative thoughts.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable means that you are allowing yourself to discover new things and experiences. It also lets you have opportunities that you may have missed out on such as new relationships, networks, and ideas.
So let yourself be vulnerable and do something you’ve always wanted to do but have avoided due to fear. You never know what the real outcome may be unless you give it a go.