Vulnerability is a moment in time when you let your walls down. It’s exposing our raw, unprotected self for others to see, leaving us open for critique, judgment and emotional harm. I’ve often compared it to standing out in the middle of the street bare naked. Sounds painful but I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be and I’ve learned that it can be painful but that it’s only temporary and always worth it.
The truth is, I’m not really interested in standing naked in the middle of the street. I don’t see the value, but when I see I’m not taking action on something that will move me forward I seem to visualize this scenario. Then I like to think about the result I would have I took this action I’m dreading. This allows me to embrace that feeling, remind myself that a feeling never killed anyone, remind myself of how awesome it will feel having the result and I dive in, head first. Sometimes the result is different than I anticipated but I always grow from the experience because it opens doors that I wouldn’t have known were there if I stayed stuck in fear.
Unwillingness to open up and expose your inner self – your true self – you in your full truth – is what keeps our marriages from connecting on a deep level.
As humans, we have an innate desire for connection, we are biologically wired for it. According to vulnerability expert, Brene Brown, it’s why we are here, it gives us purpose and adds meaning to our lives.
When we expose our fragile, tender inner selves, expose our hurts, our physical and emotional soft spots, it feels uncomfortable and dangerous. It’s even possible that we’ve experimented with being open and honest about ourselves but were completely unprepared for how another person might react. We possibly made their reaction mean something about who we are as a human thus making us less willing to do it again. This is where shame comes in. Shame really comes from the fear of being disconnected, that if we expose our inner self people might think we are somehow less than, flawed, unworthy of connection. When we build up our self confidence and practice vulnerability we get to let go of shame, knowing that connection is created from within ourselves, nothing outside of us creates our connection with someone else.
Vulnerability includes not pretending, not attempting to manipulate how someone views us. There is no game playing, no trying to be better than, no falseness. When we are most vulnerable we are at our most raw, true selves – no lying, no pretending, no faking, no game playing, manipulating or one upping.
So exactly how do we start becoming vulnerable, maybe even for the very first time? Maybe after trying but deciding it was too painful, deciding what someone else did in response to our vulnerability was painful enough that we’ll never open up again. What I want to do today is help you understand that the process of you opening up is all about you and your growth. I want to help teach you that someone else’s response to your vulnerability is their business and has absolutely nothing to do with you and your value.
Let’s look at five steps you can take to become more vulnerable so that you can open up to creating a more deep and intimate marriage:
Learn how to feel an emotion.
The process is simple yet deliberate, and often abstract for the beginner but one of the best things I have learned how to do in order to get out of a negative thought space. You have to take the time to do the work of allowing the emotion to run its course. You have to pause and be willing to feel the emotion you are experiencing so you can start recognizing it when it comes again.
A feeling is just a vibration in your body, a chemical response to something you are thinking. That’s all. I have taught here that all thoughts are optional so when you recognize the feeling or vibration in your body, you can then start searching for the thought causing it. You might think that their reaction means you’re unworthy, which could create a feeling of shame. When you recognize that it’s an optional thought you can start to explore the thought that their reaction has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
Build up your self confidence.
Self confidence is something you build by doing things that feel uncomfortable and not attaching any meaning about yourself to the outcome. It’s being willing to experience any emotion while moving forward with your relationship goals.
It’s different from confidence in that confidence is developed when you repeat something over and over. You become good at the thing because of the number of times you’ve taken action and now have confidence in being able to take the action again. Self confidence is doing something without knowing how and being willing to fail.
Self confidence is when you have your own back. You know you can do something and the result has nothing to do with who you are as a human being. Embarrassment, humiliation, rejection are all just temporary emotions that you feel, move through and move on, learning in the process.
Practice small steps of vulnerability.
Begin practicing with close friends, people who are open and vulnerable with you, and start small. Plan ahead of time what you will share and how you might comfortably weave it into the conversation. It might be as simple as being open and honest instead of embellishing or glamorizing your stories. Think about it like a dare to yourself, imagine feeling self confident, taking the action of opening up and not making the other person’s words or reactions not mean anything about you as a person. What if they never wanted to talk to you again? Would you make that mean that you’re unlovable? Remember, self confidence says you are fully lovable and worthy, no matter what another person thinks or does.
Maybe it’s even as simple as making a decision about date night. Maybe you always let him make the final decision because you’re afraid to commit to what you want to do. This small step of vulnerability would look like you deciding on purpose and sticking to it. What might you make it mean if he says he doesn’t like your idea? Watch what happens for you, maybe you give in and just do what he wants, telling yourself the story that you don’t really care anyway. Be curious. Be honest. Be you.
Let people be who they are.
Other people rejecting you or shaming you by trying to make you feel less connected, doesn’t change your worthiness. Learning how to feel what happens inside of you when people reject you takes lots of practice but it’s a skill that will build your armor of protection. This armor of protection is not to keep people from seeing in, from seeing your truth, it’s your self confidence shield that keeps you being all in on you.
The other view I’d like you to contemplate is who is shaming who? Are you making their response mean that they are telling you your opinion doesn’t matter? What if they are just being truthful, expressing their opinion and you’re just making it mean something different. This is where flavor and spice come into our relationships. If you’re always doing what others want to do then you’re not bringing your own flavor into the mix. I call that unfair to your relationship and to you! I say shake yourself all over and see what new recipe you come up with, who knows, your partner might even like this new flavor!
Find an accountability partner, a mentor or hire a professional.
Someone who’s done their own work of building their self confidence. Someone who has put themselves out into the world to help others can be a beautiful way to begin opening up with zero judgement. They’re all in on you and helping you become your true authentic self because they’ve done the work themselves and know the freedom that comes from it.
Hiding your true authentic self keeps us from blooming into our most beautifully created self. It limits us. Today you can shed that shell and start growing into someone who is solid in who she is and willing to put it out there, willing to shake her spice all over the world. This is the person your husband married, he married you and when he sees the raw, true you, he’s going to fall even deeper in love. He’s going to want more of your favorite dish served up on a daily menu plan!
Once you start exposing your inner spice, that’s when you open up to the love relationship of your dreams. Give this work a try and let me know how it goes, let me know what you’re struggling with so you can come closer to Awakening(YourTrue)You. If you think working together might be the next step you’d like to take, let’s talk about it. Scheduling a consult call will help you really decide if working with a coach is in your future and if it’s not, that’s ok because the conversation will be fun!
I am a life coach who works with individuals looking to change their current or future romantic relationship – my program helps them discover that they are enough. This self-love empowers and equips them to take continual, forward steps in achieving the healthy, romantic relationship they desire. Are you ready to explore this journey in your life? Schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.