Vulnerability: we often have visceral reactions just thinking of the word. Fear, hurt and mental chaos swirl in our brains and we hide from the potential pain. And so we put walls and barriers up so we don’t connect with others. The masks we wear and the armor we put on protects us from being hurt by others. But, what does that fear of vulnerability cost you?
Vulnerability is so hard for us because our brain is developed over time to learn not to trust, and many things happen over time to fuel that belief. Relationships are difficult because humans aren’t perfect. We get hurt and our childhood experiences teach us that people aren’t trustworthy. During these experiences, a new neural pathway develops in the brain that lights up every time you get into a new relationship and the walls go up. Over time, we stop being vulnerable to people because we don't feel like you can trust.
Being vulnerable is really the only way we can connect with other people.. Allowing the emotional part of you to connect with the emotional part of them connects us to each other and gives us shared experiences and stories. Vulnerability can feel like a tremendous risk, but it's what is necessary to have true relationships with others and thrive instead of survive.
Vulnerability is trusting someone with your story.
We all have a story. Typically, we all also have a story that we lock away. It’s the fear and shame of being judged and meeting rejection that keep us from telling our stories to other people. But, what do you miss when you don’t tell your story? Connection. Stephen King once said, “You’re only as sick as your secrets”. There is truth in this. Our secrets eat away at our peace and knock on the door of consciousness. Until our secrets are told, they remain in control of our emotions, whether we realize it or not.
Two ways to step into vulnerability:
You have to make a choice to be vulnerable.
The only way to change our brain patterns is intentionality. Brain habits are forged through years of habits and experiences. To change those habits we have to decide to make a change.
Our anxiety gets in the way of our ability to be vulnerable. Anxiety is all about fear of the unknown and fear is a liar. What lies do you start hearing in your brain when you are faced with a new relationship? Our brains tell us that we’re not safe, that people will hurt us, that we’ve been here before. Be intentional about listening and hearing the words your brain is saying.
Part of feeling vulnerable is knowing “I'm going to tell my story to you, and you may not understand it, but I’m hoping that we can be empathetic with each other.” Will you get emotionally hurt? Possibly, but the connections you will make along the way will forever change your life.
Mattie Cummins is a brain-loving neuro-social worker/journey coach/counselor and owner of Cerebrations LLC. She specializes in helping clients with neuro-issues and anxiety live their best life through functional coaching and brain education. By empowering you to harness the power of your brain and body connection, Mattie can help you understand what is happening in your brain, rewire your thoughts and reactions, and find your best life.