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Embracing Vulnerability: How Being Authentic Strengthens Mental Resilience

Written byDesiree Smith

Embracing Vulnerability: How Being Authentic Strengthens Mental Resilience

Vulnerability isn’t usually our natural instinct. Most of us lean toward self-preservation, keeping our thoughts and emotions quiet to avoid judgment and hurt. Being vulnerable requires us to take an emotional risk. While the outcome of being vulnerable isn’t always what we hope for, it’s the path we must take to build and maintain healthy connections with others.

As scary as vulnerability can be, it has the power to transform our fear into belonging. Brené Brown, an American professor, author, and podcast host known for her work on shame and vulnerability, defines it as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” She puts vulnerability at the core of shame, fear, and our struggle for worthiness but also considers it the birthplace of joy, creativity, and belonging.

The Power of Vulnerability

Being vulnerable is part of being human. We have to let our guard down to be seen for who we truly are. Don’t you want to be loved for who you are instead of who you’re pretending to be? For genuine connections to happen, we must allow ourselves to be seen. The problem is that too many of us think we aren’t worthy of connection — that if people truly knew who we were, they wouldn’t want to know us.

Vulnerability, though often seen as a weakness, is actually a strength. It helps us see that we are enough, increases our courage, and helps us better understand those around us. Not only can we be seen for who we are, but we can also see others for who they are. By being in tune with our emotions, we develop a greater awareness and understanding of what those around us feel. And as our sense of empathy grows, so does the quality of our relationships.

Tips for Becoming More Vulnerable

Complete vulnerability isn’t instantaneous — it takes work. But the good news is that vulnerability isn’t an all-or-nothing quality. It’s a skill we can practice; a strength we can develop. Here are a few ways to start implementing more vulnerability into your daily life:

1). Admit when you’re bad at something.

Everyone has weaknesses. Admit when you don’t excel at something, and ask for help becoming better. We are all human and imperfect. You’re not alone in your struggles. People will respect you more for admitting when you’re struggling than if you pretend you never make mistakes. This doesn’t mean you should be self-deprecating; you simply need to accept who you are — faults and all.

2). Take responsibility instead of blaming others.

When something doesn’t go according to plan, accept responsibility instead of blaming others. By doing so, you put yourself in control of finding the solution, which can be really powerful. When difficult situations arise, the best thing to do is accept reality for what it is and work with what you have to make things better.

3). Tell someone when they’re being hurtful.

When somebody says something that hurts you, it’s okay to stand up for yourself and say so. But keep in mind that there’s a difference between calling someone out for being unkind and calling them out simply because you disagree with them.

4). Tell someone that you love or appreciate them.

If you care about someone, whether it be platonic or romantic, let them know. Expressing your feelings toward someone can be scary because it’s not always reciprocated and can create an imbalance in the relationship. But when it is returned, your vulnerability about your feelings sparks a deeper and more meaningful relationship.

5). Give yourself permission to be yourself.

A big part of vulnerability is knowing who you are. Start by adopting a nonjudgmental stance toward all your emotions, and learn to embrace them. We won’t get along with everyone we meet, but if you can’t be who you really are, you’ll never find the people you genuinely connect with. Remind yourself that everyone has flaws, so you are not alone in what you’ve felt and experienced. There are people out there who understand and are ready to support you. You just have to take a leap of faith and be vulnerable to find them.

Turning Authenticity Into Resiliency

When we embrace our authentic selves, we lay the foundation for greater mental resilience, your ability to adapt to challenging life experiences and bounce back stronger than before. Building this resilience takes time, strength, and help from those around you. It also takes a willingness to be vulnerable. 

When you choose to be vulnerable, you’re going against your instinct for self-protection and standing up to fear, discomfort, and anxiety. When you face these feelings and overcome them, you’ll grow more confident in yourself and your abilities, and this will make it easier to approach future challenges with courage.

As backward as it may sound, showing our softer side can become one of our greatest strengths. Regularly practicing vulnerability leads to personal growth and makes our lives more meaningful in the long run. 

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