Do you hear people talk about “vulnerability” as though it’s something we ought to be? I used to, but I’ve changed my perspective on vulnerability. Listen to this audio explanation or read the transcript below. Do you think you should be vulnerable?
I recorded this audio for you. You can listen to it by pressing play here, or read the transcript below.
You know, people talk about being vulnerable quite a bit, as if being vulnerable is something we should aspire to do or be. And as if it’s something scary.
I want to talk about vulnerability because my perspective on this has changed slightly over the years. As I’ve come to understand vulnerability, it’s not just about sharing things that are raw or hard. The idea of vulnerability means that we are susceptible or open to attack. If I show you that I’m bad at something and then you take advantage of me, I’m vulnerable to you.
Most of us don’t want to share things that we’ve done that are wrong or weak – failures – anything that we perceive that would make others think that we’re bad or whatever. That’s when we feel vulnerable.
“If I share this with you, you might not like me anymore and that would hurt me.”
“If I can be hurt by you in a real way, then I am making myself vulnerable to you.
I’ve got a little something to say about that.
My idea of vulnerability in myself in the past few years, has changed dramatically. Two years ago I started blogging and for the first time in a long time, I shared weak things about myself – experiences I was nervous to share. Just the idea of putting a blog post out into the world and waiting to see if anyone would pay attention – it felt very vulnerable. Because, “what if people reject me? What if people ignore me?” Either way, I was vulnerable to their response because I knew they could hurt me by rejecting or ignoring me. I knew they could hurt me by thinking worse of me – by thinking bad of me.
What I’ve realized since then is that the more I put myself out there, the less vulnerable I feel when I say what is true about myself – to share a story or “put myself out there,” if you will. Because I’m not as concerned about what other people think. I’m not going to say that I never care, I’m not going to say that I’m never worried about it. But, I tell you what, it’s way different than it used to be. My vulnerability now has more to do with my parenting or things that are really, really close to my heart. Ya, I’m vulnerable to one of my children or my husband getting hurt. Caring about – or loving people makes me vulnerable to getting hurt.
But at the same time, there is a certain level of…of knowing that I am going to get hurt. And when you can look at life and say, “I know that I’m going to get hurt and I am going to grieve and there are going to be really crappy things that are going to take place. But I’m not going to let the fear of those things keep me back – hold me back…”
I am so done with that.
I’m not going to let the fear of man – the fear of women – the fear of judgement and people looking down on me or whatever…I am so tired of worrying about that. It’s not worth it anymore.
When I act like that, when I’m really taking actual risks with what I’m saying and who I’m saying it to – when I speak boldly and passionately, knowing that sometimes I’m going to screw it up – sometimes I’m going to be wrong. Sometimes I’m going to say it really powerfully and be wrong and I’m going to have to eat my own…junk. I mean…for real.
That’s just the way it is.
And when I feel like that, I am less at risk. I’m willing to put myself at risk, knowing that I’m going to get hurt, knowing that I’m going to feel pain. And saying, “I can take it because this world is not my home…I can take it because I am loved, no matter what, by God. I can take it because I know my husband is standing with me.”
When I know that those closest relationships are solid, when I know that I’m loved no matter what, then I’m not vulnerable! I’m sharing real things like emotion, things that look weak to other people (but that to me it’s just human), I don’t feel vulnerable.
In fact, my biggest concern is that I’m going to hurt somebody. My biggest concern is that my kids will grow up resenting this part of me. Yet, at the same time I don’t believe that.
But the point is that you are only vulnerable to the extent you give other people the power to hurt you. Not just hurt but to the extent to which you think you can not get past the hurt.
I feel so different than I did three years ago. I just can’t even begin to describe it. Because I was hiding. I was hiding so much that I felt incredibly vulnerable. I felt like I was going to get attacked and if I said anything at all, I might get hurt. And so therefore I kept holding it in.
And I tell you what, it was rough. When you hold stuff like that in, all kinds of stuff goes on in your mind and heart that’s just not healthy. I mean, feeling like I was stuck inside my head and that everything I was thinking and feeling was stuck inside me and all I wanted was release. All I wanted was to get it out of my head, and yet I felt like I couldn’t because if I did, then I would get hurt. If I did, then people wouldn’t like me.
(laugh) And now I’m just thinking…
The reality is that sometimes I’m going to screw it up. I’m going to mess relationships up and I’m going to apologize and try again. But the truth is that I’m not as vulnerable as I once was. And yet I’m sharing more, I’m putting more out there than I ever have.
So the question for you is, are you vulnerable? What makes you vulnerable? Where are you giving other people the power to hurt you and hold you down? Maybe they don’t even want the power, but you’re giving it to them. You’re giving it to them because you’re afraid of what they think. You’re afraid they’re gonna reject you. You’re afraid that they might ignore you.
But I tell you what, the more you put yourself out there, step by step by step, the closer you come to feeling less vulnerable. You’ll realize you’re OK and you’ll be OK no matter what. I’m saying that on a philisophical level, but seriously. How vulnerable are you?
If you’re feeling really vulnerable right now, you need to take a risk that actually puts you in a place of being vulnerable to other people where you can take a hit. You need to take a hit.
If you’re feeling vulnerable, ya, you need to toughen up. And you toughen up by putting yourself out there and taking risks – going ahead and taking a few hits and realizing YOU can STAND BACK UP and you’re OK.
So, my friend. This is it. This is your call. I’m calling you out. If you’re feeling vulnerable, put yourself out there. Take a few hits, stand back up again and realize that you don’t have to be vulnerable.
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