When Vulnerability Becomes Strength
Vulnerability is, in its most basic definition, a weakness.
As defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, vulnerable means:
capable of being physically or emotionally wounded;
open to attack or damage
In battles, vulnerability is something you keep hidden from enemies or protect fiercely. But is it the same in our lives? Is it black and white?
Surprisingly, it can be a source of strength when it comes from a place of honesty and authenticity. You, being true to the world. You, with your kindness and competence, but also with your imperfections.
Here are some things I've observed:
1. It's freeing and encourages growth.
There's a release. Of tension and pretension. You no longer have to keep curating who you are, presenting a perfect image to everyone. You no longer have to keep a facade. It allows us to be human and gives us permission to make mistakes as we learn and grow.
2. It reduces internal disconnect.
Being true to others means being true to ourselves too. It lessens the friction, the disconnect between what we do externally and who we are internally. There's a joining of the whole.
3. You may be open to attack, but honesty disarms them.
When you start from a place of honesty and lay your cards on the table, you don't give others a chance to sniff out pretension. You've given them the truth. It even discourages attack because where is honor and kindness in that?
4. It encourages empathy, support, and love.
Instead of an attack, they might show empathy, an understanding of what you're going through. And from that understanding, the natural instinct is to give support, love, and encouragement. You might even get their respect, for your honesty and courage.
5. It puts things into perspective.
When you speak of your own challenges, you might find that others experience the same things. You're not alone, and that's comforting. It's not about you and your weakness. It is life, happening. It's the world turning. It just is.
6. You can get inspiration, strength and wisdom.
When someone else has gone through what you're still going through, they can be a source of inspiration and strength. Seeing them now is evidence that you can get past it too, equipped with their wisdom.
You'd be surprised at how willing and happy people are about helping you. It's for you as much as it is for them, because there is joy in being able to help.
7. It builds a safe space, a circle of trust.
It opens the space for honesty, and encourages others to do the same. It becomes a community where you can talk about your struggles, exchange insights, and learn from each other. Talking is therapeutic; so even without actual solutions, a safe space to have honest conversations is already a huge benefit.
There are nuances, of course. Some situations I can think of right now are:
- It isn't strength when it's coming from a place of self-pity, or if it's done for attention. That's not honesty and people will see right through it.
- It might not be applicable in politics—most times, that's a war zone. Or a brutal, violent Game of Thrones.
- It's also not advisable if you have to deal with a difficult, manipulative client, and you can't afford to lose them.
If you fear being judged, that's only natural. We all fear that. But think: who will judge you? Those who don't understand. Those whose opinions don't matter.
Because those who are perceptive and good in character, can and will understand you. Those who are confident and secure won't attack you (they have no reason to). They'll support you and help you where they can.
Anyone who attacks you shows the world who they are, not who you are. Cliche, but true.
In sum, vulnerability becomes strength when it comes from a place of authenticity. It gives you permission to make mistakes and grow in the process; instead of attacks, you get support and wisdom from others; and it encourages a culture of honesty, trust, and respect.
Drop the shield and shed the armor. Be free. Be you.