Life tools Why vul­ner­a­bil­ity is good for you

Pre­sent­ing the per­fect life on so­cial me­dia or just to our friends is a hard habit to break. but re­veal­ing the real you can be the key to a hap­pier life

Woman & Home - - In This Issue… -

Vul­ner­a­bil­ity – the state of be­ing ex­posed to the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing at­tacked or harmed – can be painful, es­pe­cially in this com­pet­i­tive world of so­cial me­dia and “in­sta” per­fec­tion. But it can also be a strength. here’s how to max­imise that power…

1 Show­ing it is lib­er­at­ing

Vul­ner­a­bil­ity is mis­un­der­stood: rather than be­ing a weak­ness it is, in­stead, a sign of re­silience. It’s the abil­ity to face the truth and ex­pose your soul. It’s self-hon­esty in ac­tion – the kind that keeps you from com­pla­cency, pro­pels you for­ward and en­ables you to grow. “true be­long­ing only hap­pens when we present our authen­tic, im­per­fect selves to the world,” says well­ness prac­ti­tioner louise grei­dinger. be brave enough to say ‘I need help’ when you feel you’re buck­ling. the won­der­ful thing with close friends is they’ll rally round. the net­work is there, you just need to ac­cess it. Vul­ner­a­bil­ity is ul­ti­mately re­ward­ing – it em­pow­ers and lib­er­ates, cre­at­ing a ripple ef­fect that en­cour­ages oth­ers to do the same.

DO IT Have a con­ver­sa­tion with your­self. Get fa­mil­iar with check­ing in with your feel­ings reg­u­larly. Once this be­comes a habit, it’s eas­ier to iden­tify and vo­calise any­thing that feels not quite right. It’s in these mo­ments that we fig­ure out who we are and which of our needs aren’t be­ing met. >>

“Once you start be­ing true to your­self, you will at­tract peo­ple who value you be­cause they feel ut­terly se­cure in your hon­esty”

2 Cre­ate deeper re­la­tion­ships

It’s such a strength to know your own mind and it makes life so much less

com­pli­cated. “Once it’s easy to speak about your vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, you be­come more re­laxed and your en­ergy is peace­ful. You laugh from the heart,” says coun­sel­lor Fiona Austin. And a pro­found abil­ity to em­pathise is in­fec­tious. But it’s not about over­shar­ing; iden­ti­fy­ing one per­son you can talk to hon­estly has a very pos­i­tive ef­fect. Noth­ing makes us as happy as a true and deep con­nec­tion.

DO IT Write a love let­ter to your­self and in­clude the top 10 points of your per­son­al­ity, tal­ents and skills. Then ask your part­ner, close friends and kids to add theirs. It helps see your­self through oth­ers’ eyes. Make sure you keep what you’ve writ­ten. If you have a wob­ble, a bad day or are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a stress­ful pe­riod, it will re­mind you that you will feel OK again.

3 Try to spot vul­ner­a­bil­ity in oth­ers

You can’t teach any­one else how im­por­tant hon­esty is un­less you are

prac­tis­ing it your­self. Only then can you spread the word of kind­ness by shar­ing. Women, in par­tic­u­lar, are in­trin­si­cally good at this. Acts of kind-heart­ed­ness re­mind us what mat­ters and is im­por­tant in life. Once you be­come the one who is no longer “fright­ened”, you’ll find peo­ple want to be around you and are nat­u­rally drawn to you be­cause you make them feel good about them­selves. For max­i­mum ef­fect, be sure you prac­tise it at work, as well as in your home life.

DO IT Think of a time when some­one ex­posed their vul­ner­a­ble side to you, and how it en­riched your re­la­tion­ship. That is a very per­sonal gift, one that can make us truly happy.

4 Iden­tify what makes you un­com­fort­able

“Lis­ten to any anx­i­ety,” ex­plains Austin. “That sense of un­ease within needs to be iden­ti­fied, pro­cessed and vo­calised, or writ­ten down.” In­stead, we tend to block or bury un­com­fort­able feel­ings of per­ceived in­ad­e­qua­cies. For ex­am­ple, you may say or think: “I was a rub­bish mum to­day and shouted at the kids”; “I should have told my boss I need a pay rise”; “I re­ally need help, I’m feel­ing de­pressed.” We all have these in­ner voices. When we feel stressed, we tend to push them away. We want to numb our feel­ings and com­fort our­selves. We eat more, drink more, work harder in or­der to cre­ate dis­trac­tion. “The front door of vul­ner­a­bil­ity is fear, so get com­fort­able with it,” adds Austin. Prac­tise lis­ten­ing and then ad­dress­ing needs head-on, or with the help of a friend. A daily prac­tice of hon­esty about how you feel, why you have those feel­ings, and your ca­pac­ity to process them is a skill worth de­vel­op­ing.

DO IT This ex­er­cise sounds a bit touchy-feely but packs a pow­er­ful emo­tional punch. Put your hand on your heart, stare at your­self in the mir­ror and ask, “Why am I anx­ious?” And lis­ten for the real an­swer. After all, it’s only your­self you’d be ly­ing to.

5 Put your own needs first

“As a species, we have to be sur­vivors, so show­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity is the same as ask­ing for help, which can be dif­fi­cult,” says health and well­be­ing coach Sally Bee. There’s also the is­sue of women be­ing no­to­ri­ously good at putting them­selves last. In truth, you can­not be there for any­one else un­less you put your needs first. Even if feel­ings of vul­ner­a­bil­ity are painful, lean into that emo­tion un­til the hurt turns to un­der­stand­ing, ac­cep­tance and wis­dom. Once you start be­ing true to your­self, you will at­tract peo­ple who value you be­cause they feel ut­terly se­cure in your hon­esty.

Take a leaf out of talk-show host and ac­claimed ac­tress Oprah Win­frey’s book. The queen of the con­fes­sional, Oprah talks openly about her weight bat­tles, re­la­tion­ships, los­ing a child, and phys­i­cal and emo­tional abuse. These were all taboo sub­jects un­til she made the un­speak­able re­lat­able and, by shar­ing her own vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, opened up a safe place for oth­ers to ar­tic­u­late and ac­cept theirs. DO IT Keep an hon­esty “thoughts and feel­ings” di­ary, sug­gests Bee. When things are go­ing well, we don’t feel the need to write it down, but when the chips are down, it’s cathar­tic to off­load. It can be hard read­ing back and re­flect­ing on how you felt, but it will stop you be­com­ing com­pla­cent. It might sound un­likely, but when things are fine you can end up in a dan­ger zone be­cause you’re more likely to go with the flow, rather than be­ing mind­ful and proac­tive in achiev­ing your goals. The hun­grier you are, the more cre­ative you’ll be with your life.

READ MORE Try Dr Brené Brown’s ex­cel­lent books on vul­ner­a­bil­ity: The Gifts of Im­per­fec­tion (Hazelden), Dar­ing Greatly (Pen­guin), Ris­ing Strong (Ebury), and Brav­ing the Wilder­ness (Ver­mil­lion). w&h

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