Vulnerability is scary.
The dreaded word that most of us avoid like the plague. There are many types of vulnerability. The one I'm writing about is emotional vulnerability.
What we fear most about emotional vulnerability is being exposed about how we truly feel about something or someone. We fear that our preconceived "weakness" would be used against us, and it is a very real possibility that it could be. Because of this, we've been conditioned to believe that this vulnerable exposure is somehow wrong, or considered a weakness, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
As Dr. Brene Brown states in her book Daring Greatly, "Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.”
Many situations in our lives can cause us to fear opening ourselves up to the realm of feelings and emotions. Often times, the trauma of not having our emotional needs met as children forces us to shy away from embracing intimacy with others, or at least creates the fear of "getting in too deep".
Both men and women have been conditioned to believe that vulnerability is a weakness, and so we also tend to think that all emotions are weakness. I was once this woman. I was determined to avoid feeling any emotion at all cost! I had to make sure nobody saw my "weakness" so they wouldn't have an advantage over me. I then became so emotionally distant that I lost touch with all feelings, which led to an inability to feel or express any emotion.
On the contrary, as I've embraced more of my vulnerable self; through years of therapy, healing, self-care and journaling, (I talk about this more on this episode of my podcast) I have come to love the human experience of emotion. Years of emotional repression, only led to more depression, a disconnect from life; friends, family, and intimate relationships, and inevitably a disconnect from myself.
As Brown says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” As I embark on the brave journey of self-love, I began releasing any need for outside validation of who I was. I feel more at ease with my truest self-expression of my needs and wants - within all spaces of my life. For true vulnerability to occur in our lives, we must first learn to accept ourselves. Giving ourselves the permission to feel exactly what we feel, with no judgement is a powerful act of self-love. Allowing ourselves to sit with our feelings isn't something that's the norm within the black community, let alone sharing them with someone else. Fear of judgment can cripple us, and admitting we're not as strong as we portray ourselves to be, can feel like self-abandonment. Yes, we must protect our vulnerability in many circumstances. But, we don't have to fear it altogether.
Humans are hardwired for connection, and It takes courage to let yourself been seen. Loving ourselves fully, and embracing everything - flaws and all, is the only way to truly connect with others. And if someone chooses not to stay, we know that we'll be ok. We're still loveable as we are. When we can accept ourselves, we accept others - and we get to share in the beautiful emotion called, intimacy.