No one likes feeling vulnerable. Vulnerability is a sign of weakness and exposes ourselves to the world at the risk of being judged, rejected or condemned. Though vulnerability is linked to building strong connections and leadership, it is such a hard thing to do. Unlocking the power of vulnerability requires a shift in our thinking that it is something we do towards it is something we are.

Vulnerability Builds Confidence

Vulnerability causes pain because it requires fully opening ourselves up. Embracing vulnerability allows for a transition to take place: from unconfident and afraid to confident and bold. Why? Because relaying deep desires, values and experiences means taking ownership and acceptance. It forces a realisation that all of these emotions; including shame, embarrassment or fear is part of what makes us human.

Sounds counterintuitive, but vulnerability builds confidence.

Like a muscle, the more vulnerable we are, the more comfortable it becomes. Therefore the more confident we are at being vulnerable. Confidence is based on vulnerability and vulnerability is based on open honesty with others.

Core confidence is an unconditional acceptance of oneself and the knowingness that you are your greatest asset.  Self improvement author Mark Manson adds:

True confidence is being less invested in other’s perceptions of you, than in the perception of yourself.

Having core confidence is vulnerable because it communicates a subtle yet powerful message: “I am who I am, and I’m OK with it“.  You prioritise investment on yourself over what other people think of you.

How Vulnerability Built My Confidence

Recently I shared being stalked to someone. Drawing a correlation to my questioning behaviour since the incident,  sharing this was extremely confronting. I remember thinking, “It doesn’t matter what they think, this was something that happened to me. I’m OK with who I am as a result of it”. Despite a negative response, sharing my story gave me power over what happened to me. If I hadn’t acknowledged or shared, I wouldn’t be at peace with what happened to me.

Vulnerability is a Catalyst to Growth

Your ability to deal with failure will determine how much you get to deal with success”. – Dan Kennedy

Another fear of vulnerability is how it challenges people’s emotional inertia: the stories we tell that keep us within status quo. These stories are a form of resistance designed by our defence mechanisms to keep us safe. The resistance doesn’t go away but morphs into other forms, preventing change or goal achievement. Emotional inertia is much like Newton’s First Law: something will remain in its existing state unless acted upon by an external force.

Being accountable over vulnerability creates empowerment because it transforms thought into action. The risk of getting hurt is confronted because it means admitting faults, accepting responsibility and making choices. Vulnerability also addresses the mindset of scarcity because it discounts the constant need for perfection.

What you resist, persists.  – Buddha

Vulnerability requires scratching layers deeper than the surface and reviewing things such as:

  • Empathy
  • Fear
  • Constant need for validation
  • Proving a sense of worthiness

Vulnerability allows diagnosis of whether we are emotionally shut off from ourselves and others.  It means acknowledging that there’s always something stopping us or preventing from wanting us to go all in. It brings a level of authenticity that connects because we choose to act without hesitation. People see and feel vulnerability and an relate to it positively. Thus the aim is to not remove the fears of vulnerability, but act despite it.

How Vulnerability Helped Me Grow

Last week I attended an interview at an EduTech startup for an exciting role in the content space. I arrived at the interview with 4 people. It felt a little like Joe Rogan’s Fear Factor:

fearfactorsnakes

The interview wasn’t as flawless as I would’ve liked. I make mistakes and mixed up simple things. Going blank caused nervousness and left me a little deflated. I berated myself, “How could I mess up things that I knew so well?” Taking a step back, I realised it was my defence mechanisms trying to protect me. It was OK to feel vulnerable. I realised how well I had done in being authentic, genuine and doing my best. That’s what mattered most irrespective of the outcome.

In a world of no absolutes, we have power to draw our own conclusions and take action for every situation. Why should we fear vulnerability instead of using it to build confidence and grow? It should not be an excuse to keep us comfortable or within the status quo. Why can’t we use it to share our true selves and establish greater, more meaningful relationships?

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