Vulnerability can be a tricky word for some people. When you mention the act of being vulnerable, sometimes the initial reaction is that it means weakness. However, it’s actually the opposite. So why is it important to talk about vulnerability?
We all have what’s called our ego. It’s this persona of who we are that we project out into the world, and we often use the ego to face the day to day challenges of life. I think of the ego as the person you meet for the first time at dinner parties; they talk about their job, their family and what they have accomplished in their life. The ego isn’t a bad thing, but it’s important to learn how to put the ego aside and be vulnerable.
In the early 90’s when I was a young police officer, I was asked to attend a weeklong camp where they brought in underprivileged youth. These were young teenagers who lived in poor neighborhoods, and didn’t have the best upbringing. For the whole week the other officers and I acted as camp counselors but never told the juveniles that we were police officers. We interacted with them daily, ate together, and slept in the same dorms together.
As the week went on, you could see the kids relax, and some of them would start to let their guard down and share about their lives. Some of these teenagers had seen their friends shot right in front of them. Some had seen their mothers beaten by their boyfriends, and some had been abused both physically and sexually.
At the end of the week it was revealed that the camp counselors were all police officers. Their reactions were not all of joy. Some of the juveniles who I had connected with were overcome with surprise, and there were hugs and tears between us. My heart broke for them and what they had gone through, but we had learned about each other as people, not as a troubled teenager and a police officer. We all realized that the other was doing the best they could do, and all of us experienced different levels of vulnerability that week.
I wanted to share four tips that can help us all to be a little more vulnerable.
- Being Vulnerable takes courage. It’s not easy to let someone see not just the good in you, but also the bad and the really ugly parts of who you are. Allowing someone to see ALL of you takes courage.
- Vulnerability allows for growth. Being vulnerable allows you to ask for what you want out of life. Peeling away the layers of the ego to reveal who you truly are allows for growth to occur. It makes you look at your life, where you are, what you want and how you’re going to get there.
- Learn to love yourself first. Learn to love all of you, even the parts you don’t like. If you can begin by loving and accepting yourself, then when there’s rejection and you’ve opened yourself up to vulnerability, you know deep down that you are okay because you are okay with you. External acceptance is always nice, but not necessary because you’ve learned to love yourself first.
- Being vulnerable creates deep connection. If you want to have a deeper relationship with your spouse, children, friends, learn to be vulnerable. Allow those closest to you see the real you. They will love you for it, and you will create a deeper bond with those who you allow to see you.
Being vulnerable is important for our growth in relationships and friendships. When we can let someone see all the good and also all the bad of who we are, we are creating bonds with people that can last a lifetime.
Allow vulnerability into your life and don’t be afraid to peel back the layers of the ego to create a deeper connection with those you love.