Why is it important to be vulnerable? Benefits of being vulnerable that will drastically improve your life.
As with any searching soul, I’ve gone through multiple versions of myself as I’ve tried to find the right one. For a few years, I went through a version we’ll call “Closed Kara.” Closed Kara had been burned by a couple of people that she had deeply trusted. As a result, she decided to keep herself closed off from others. Sure, she could hang out with friends – but she wasn’t about to open up to them. At least not about anything serious.
Closed Kara felt pretty good about her defenses… for awhile. But then, as she began to navigate her young adult life in a brand new place, she began to feel a bit lonely. Something was missing.
Of course, Closed Kara was terrified to trust so deeply again. As time went on, however, she couldn’t deny the importance of her new friends in her life. She also couldn’t deny the need to connect more.
Slowly, she began to morph into Vulnerable Kara. She started to open up more, trust others, and carve out a more permanent space in her life. Don’t be fooled; Vulnerable Kara had a lot of work to do. And the road to vulnerability didn’t come without its obstacles.
Ultimately, however, Vulnerable Kara realized the full benefits of being vulnerable. Her shallow relationships became richer. As a result, her life took on more meaning and joy.
Most of us are still living as closed versions of ourselves. It’s only in the transformation to being vulnerable can your relationships reach their full potential.
It’s kind of like needing flour to make a cake. When you make a relationship, you need vulnerability (although a little extra sugar on top never hurts either).
You also need the right kind of vulnerability, and not the cheap knock-off posing as the real thing. Only then can you achieve the meaningful connections you need in life to feel a strong sense of belonging. The benefits of vulnerability are immense.
What is vulnerability
Vulnerability is our willingness to take risks and expose ourselves emotionally to others. While there are many myths of vulnerability permeating in our country, we need to understand that vulnerability is not:
- Something you can do without
- Full disclosure
- A bargaining chip
- A measure of comparison
- Exclusive to certain people
- Something you can make fun and comfortable
- Only deep, dark emotions and memories
According to Brené Brown, “If we want greater clarity in our purpose or more meaningful lives, vulnerability is the path.” (I don’t know about you, but I feel like she’s writing my blog’s mission in that line.)
The most significant component of meaningful lives? Our connections to others. The benefits of being vulnerable for our connections are unparalleled.
Why we need the benefits of being vulnerable in our relationships
Humans are wired to require a sense of belonging to feel happy. Because of this innate need, maintaining secure connections results in multiple benefits, including:
- Improved physical health
- Reduced stress
- Increased life expectancy
- Higher self-esteem
- Decreased depression and anxiety
8 Benefits of Being Vulnerable that Will Drastically Improve your Life
Vulnerability can feel like a personal experience. However, the benefits of being vulnerable extend well beyond our individual experiences; they improve our relationships as well. Here are 8 benefits we can reap if we are willing to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable:
1. Builds trust and intimacy in a relationship
Vulnerability and trust go hand in hand in a relationship. While it can be tricky to decide which comes first, both qualities build off of each other to deepen a connection.
With a little trust, you can be more vulnerable. Then, with a little vulnerability, you can establish greater trust.
This cycle is necessary to feel secure in your relationships. By being vulnerable, you give the person a chance to demonstrate their trustworthiness with your information. Generally, they will reciprocate the act, allowing you to prove your trust as well. Ultimately, this increased trust will encourage elevated intimacy between both parties.
2. Builds empathy and understanding
One of the reasons being vulnerable is so scary is that we’re afraid of being judged. It can feel terrifying to reveal our inner emotions, whether they are fear, shame, or hope.
By allowing ourselves to be seen, we allow others to put themselves in our shoes.
Vulnerability builds empathy and understanding for everyone involved. The more open people are, the more we can understand the many different aspects of each person’s story. Sometimes even a reminder that everyone has their own story is enough to trigger our empathy.
Empathy and understanding not only lead to stronger relationships, but they are necessary benefits of vulnerability to feel fulfilled in life.
3. Increases our self-worth
It can seem counterintuitive that sharing our inner emotions, particularly our negative ones, can increase our self-worth. In reality, that’s precisely what happens.
When we are vulnerable, we allow ourselves to be seen and accepted exactly as we are. This benefit of acceptance can, in turn, build our own self-acceptance.
Let’s say you’re feeling self-conscious about something you’re interested in. Maybe it’s something super quirky, like the spread of diseases amongst koalas. Your natural instinct is probably to hide this interest from the world since you’re afraid of being judged. Not only are you living in fear, but you’re telling yourself, My interest in koalas’ diseases is super weird and not worth sharing. (It is weird, but that’s okay.)
A benefit of being vulnerability is that you can share, overcome this negative self-image, and realize that it’s okay to be your own person.
4. Helps us find the people we want in our lives
All humans need belonging, but often we mistake “fitting in” for belonging. When we try to fit in, we adapt to the given social situation instead of maintaining our authentic self. We do this because we are afraid of being rejected for who we are.
Being vulnerable, while scary, is necessary to help you find the people who will accept you for your authentic self.
Sure, it might feel super uncomfortable and disheartening if you reveal something to your “friends” and they don’t support you. However, wouldn’t you rather know this truth than continue to spend time with people who don’t accept you?
If you are vulnerable, you can reap a vital benefit: you can find the people you want in your life: supportive, empathetic, and non-judgmental.
5. Allows us to work together more as a benefit if we are vulnerable
Our culture makes us think that we have to go at challenges alone. After all, we deceive ourselves into thinking that vulnerability is an unnecessary weakness. As a result, we foolishly try to solve our problems without the aid of others.
Real vulnerability allows us to reach out for help, and as a benefit, work together to overcome our challenges.
It just makes sense, really. Wouldn’t you rather try to work through something, whether it’s emotional or situational, with two or more minds on the case? Being vulnerable opens up a world of possibilities in terms of support and teamwork.
6. Helps us overcome our negative emotions quicker
According to vulnerability research Brené Brown, “shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: silence, secrecy, and judgment.” I would argue that this is true of most negative emotions.
When we avoid vulnerability, we keep our negative emotions to ourselves. Not only does this help them grow, but it prevents us from taking advantage of effective ways to process them.
If, on the other hand, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we can foster a sense of community and support around us. We can work through our unpleasant emotions and develop coping strategies to overcome them.
7. Increases our self-awareness and personal accountability
Sharing our emotions and mistakes with others can also help us improve our self-awareness. Through talking them out, we can identify our emotions, behaviors, and patterns. At times, this might feel difficult to do. (Nobody likes to admit their mistakes, except for me. I’m perfect, so I make no mistakes. But if I did, I would admit them).
The self-growth that comes from vulnerability will benefit us in the long run.
Not only will we become more self-aware, but we will be able to take greater accountability for our actions. Our brain’s got a whole slew of biases trying to confuse us; on top of that, our emotions get in the way of our perspective.
By being vulnerable, we can increase our personal accountability and make positive changes in our lives.
How self-aware are you? Take my fun, free self-awareness test to see where you might be lacking self-awareness in your life.
8. Opens us up for growth
Finally, all of these benefits – working together, overcoming emotions, taking accountability – lead to one considerable consequence: we open ourselves up for growth.
It’s naive to think that we can improve ourselves by thinking through things alone. Change doesn’t happen out of thin air – it needs some sort of catalyst to inspire it. A benefit of being vulnerable is that it will inspire this change.
Therefore, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open ourselves up for these catalysts to happen. It might be a conversation with a friend, a phone call to a therapist, or even a google search for new ideas. Whatever the case, it would not come to fruition had we not been vulnerable in the first place.
This post is one of four in my “Vulnerability Collection.” Check out the three related links below:
- Myths of Vulnerability
- Obstacles to Vulnerability
- How to be More Vulnerable in Your Life
- Fear of Vulnerability and How to Fight It
- 6 Steps to Overcome a Vulnerability Hangover
- How to Cultivate Vulnerability in Your Relationship
- Examples of Vulnerability in Everyday Life
Vulnerability is a necessary component to building meaningful connections and living fulfilled lives. Humans all need to feel an authentic sense of belonging. This belonging can only come about if we are willing to be vulnerable and take emotional risks.
While it can feel scary, there are many benefits of being vulnerable:
- Builds trust and intimacy in a relationship
- Builds empathy and understanding
- Increases our self-worth
- Helps us find the people we want in our lives
- Allows us to work together more
- Helps us overcome our negative emotions quicker
- Increases our personal accountability and awareness
- Opens us up for growth
It’s clear being vulnerable is necessary, so why is it so difficult to be vulnerable? Read the obstacles of vulnerability to broaden your understanding of how you can be more vulnerable in your everyday life.
Take your first stab at vulnerability by posting a comment, subscribing to this blog, or sending me an email. I promise you it will be worth your time.
Note: Almost everything I learned about vulnerability came from leading research Brené Brown. You can find her on Netflix, YouTube, podcasts, and on the shelves.