Advantages of Vulnerability
A while back, I wrote about feelings of vulnerability, and how they – along with the more widely celebrated feelings of invulnerability – can help you get more of what you want.
But on thinking further about this, and being asked some savvy questions on the topic, I came to realize there are some specific advantages of vulnerability that I previously glossed over. So now I want to circle back and cover those, too.
Here’s the list:
Vulnerability is something nearly all of us feel at one time or another. But many of us – particularly men – are acculturated to cover it up, pretending to ourselves and others we’re not feeling it, and perhaps even over-compensating with bluster and bravado.
Acknowledging our vulnerability, therefore, is a big step toward personal honesty. Do I need to go into a discussion of honesty and its benefits? I hope not. As you probably know, at bottom, honesty is just an all-around better way to live.
Acknowledging your vulnerability generally brings relief from both the implications of invulnerability and the burden of pretending to it. Pretense requires that you dodge away from unwanted feelings, deflect incoming barbs and jabs, armor up against both truthful and untruthful appraisals of you, and refuse to acknowledge when you’ve been wounded.
Once you give up this burden, you’ll feel lighter, more agile, and less fatigued at the end of the day.
You may not realize how heavy a burden this pretense can be until you leave it behind.
There’s something pleasurable and satisfying about readily experiencing your deepest emotions, particularly when you recognize them immediately as they wash over you, rather than after laboriously digging through multiple layers of disguise, obfuscation, and cloudiness that obscure them from your self-awareness.
Acknowledging your vulnerability is a significant milestone on the road toward this kind of clarity and direct emotionality because it’s one of the feelings we most often obscure extra thoroughly.
Both philosophy and religion, as well as good sense, counsel us to be fully present at every moment in our daily work and life. Getting to a level of comfort with our vulnerability is central to being fully present, because it’s central to who we are and how we experience the world.
Getting in touch with your vulnerability thins your skin and allows you to see, touch, smell, hear, and taste what’s going on around you more vividly than when you work to suppress your honest reactions to the world and pretend to be something you’re not.
Acknowledging your vulnerability gives you a leverage point from which to ask for help, convince people of the righteousness of your cause, and persuade people to join your crusade. Yes, many people flock to someone they perceive as an invincible leader. But many more people willingly lend their best efforts to a vulnerable person attempting something worthwhile and grand.
Whatever level of success you’ve already had in gathering people to your banner, I’m pretty sure you can do better by admitting more vulnerability than you have in the past.
Pretending to be invulnerable precludes any attempt to make jokes at your own expense, which happens to be one of the best ways get people on your side. When people discover you can laugh at yourself and your weaknesses, they will more readily ally with you and your values, and more willingly shoulder some of your burdens as if they were their own.
All this means vulnerability leads to broader, deeper, stronger connections with a wider range of other people, which may be the single most important element in working well with others and encouraging them to contribute their best efforts to your tasks, projects, and goals.
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