Being vulnerable can help foster intimacy and trust in your relationships. Practicing self-compassion can help you cope with negative emotions associated with vulnerability.
Opening up to others can be difficult, but you might have difficulty forming and maintaining relationships if you remain closed off. Some level of vulnerability is required to have healthy relationships.
Being vulnerable can be challenging, and you may face barriers, but it can be worth letting someone know your genuine thoughts and feelings. If you cope with life’s challenges by bottling it all up, you may be festering resentment or expressing emotions in unhealthy ways.
Vulnerability can provide a sense of belonging and is essential to the human experience. If you learn your barriers to openness, you can take steps to overcome them and may even enjoy a better sense of connection with others.
When you think about vulnerability, you may have a negative perception. But being vulnerable with others is a sign of honesty and emotional intelligence (EQ).
When you’re vulnerable, you can build trust with others by being transparent and expressive. You can:
- readily admit mistakes
- apologize when you’re wrong
- have difficult conversations
Vulnerability could be defined as a willingness to take a risk to show emotions and provide honest expression despite fears. It can be challenging for some people to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is essential for various reasons:
A 2019 study indicates that when we’re vulnerable with our partners and receive a supportive response from them, this can increase levels of intimacy. Intimacy is the level of closeness we feel with people, and when you’re vulnerable about your emotions and feelings, your relationship may strengthen.
Strengthening trust is another essential piece of showing vulnerability. A 2020 review on openness and trust suggests that being vulnerable means putting faith in others not to betray you or use what you’re vulnerable with against you.
While you don’t know that every person you trust can respect your vulnerability, it may show you that your relationship is trustworthy if they keep confidences. You have to feel safe with someone before being vulnerable with them.
Increasing emotional expression
The ability to express emotions is another reason vulnerability is essential. Vulnerability may help you express your feelings, whether they’re positive or negative. New research on vulnerability and coping with stress found that vulnerability was associated with higher levels of emotional expression and social support.
Fear is one of the most significant barriers to vulnerability. You may choose not to be vulnerable with others for reasons including:
- fear of hurting others
- experiencing rejection
- having what you say used against you
Most folks have had these experiences from time to time.
You might have to take a risk when you step out of your comfort zone and open up to someone. Sometimes that risk helps you form closer relationships with others, and sometimes it may help you learn who you can’t trust.
Bad past experiences may also be a barrier to vulnerability.
For example, if you’ve been open with someone before and it didn’t go well, this can make you put up walls. On the other hand, learning how to develop trust and being aware of others’ intentions may help you carefully navigate vulnerability.
If you have trouble with being vulnerable or choose to be vulnerable and have feelings of guilt or shame, there are some steps you can take to help yourself.
The authors also suggest that you can alter your perception of showing vulnerability to others, shifting the view of vulnerability from negative to positive and mitigating feelings of shame.
Find supportive people
Finding supportive people helps foster vulnerability. When you have a sound support system, you don’t have to fear that your openness will be used against you or that someone will betray your trust.
Social support — or the support of a life coach or therapist — can also help you cope with overwhelming emotions.
Vulnerability is being open but also understanding by doing so you’re taking a risk. Boundaries to accent vulnerability can help from someone abusing the power of intimate knowledge.
For many people, being vulnerable requires feeling safe.
Necessary components of healthy relationships include:
- expressing emotions
- building trust
- having intimacy with people
These are all benefits of vulnerability, but fear can hold you back from being vulnerable.
You can balance being vulnerable by choosing who you surround yourself with. You can also withstand openness by practicing self-compassion.
For more on vulnerability, you can check out these reads:
- “Daring Greatly: How The Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown
- “The Vulnerable Man: Break Your Patterns. Master Your Emotions. Reclaim Your Life.” by Thomas Anderson
- “You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and The Black Experience.” edited by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown