Vulnerability is hard. Vulnerability also takes courage. In her book "Daring Greatly" Brené Brown describes:
"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness."
We have been so conditioned to thinking that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. As a result, when we are overwhelmed with demands on our emotional and mental health, or when we are struggling with coping from moment to moment, we are reluctant to ask for help. This is especially the case among boys and men.
When we don't give ourselves permission to be vulnerable, we close off so many opportunities for change to happen. You won't be ready for change if you don't allow yourself to be vulnerable.
From Vulnerability to Change
Vulnerability can lead to meaningful opportunities for learning, relationship-building, and situational change. This can happen in multiple ways, progressively and/or concurrently.
I always share with my clients that you can't address a problem that you don't acknowledge that you have. However, we can admit that this is one of the most difficult things to do. This is because we are doing the equivalent of stripping ourselves down, standing in front of the mirror, and taking it all in - the highlights and the flaws. When we acknowledge our challenges, insecurities, and weaknesses, we are allowing ourselves to come face-to-face with the nemesis within - and that can be scary. But how will you know what you're up against if you don't notice it? This is why vulnerability is courageous, and is a necessary first step towards change.
Acting in Self-Compassion
Self-compassion has often been mistakenly misconstrued as self-pity. Self-compassion is about accepting oneself with kindness and without judgment. Licensed Clinical Social Worker F. Diane Barth elaborates on self-compassion in self-care in her blog post here. Identifying your needs is an incredible act of vulnerability, but is also an incredible act of self-care and self-compassion as well. Self-compassion is about removing a self-critical lens as you assess your needs, strengths, and value.
Asking for Help
This is a difficult step that many grapple with because now it requires involving others in your story. This means possibly revealing your struggles, insecurities and flaws to others. As intimidating as this may feel, consider that you are likely involving those who are equipped and in a position to help and support you on your journey. This could include family members or friends, an accountability partner, or a therapist,
As real as the fear of criticism and judgment is, taking this step embodies the courage that characterizes vulnerability, and the self-care that is found in self-compassion.
If you are ready to transform your vulnerability into meaningful opportunity for change, contact me to discuss where the next steps of your journey can take you.
Durel Allen, MSW, RSW