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  • Writer's pictureSylvia St. Cyr

The Three Aspects of Vulnerability

Updated: Feb 15, 2023



When it comes to opening yourself up, being vulnerable, there are three aspects that surround it. Courage, communication, and honesty.


Clearly I’m leaning into vulnerability right now. And if I’m going to dive deep, then I think it’s important to talk about the journey of becoming vulnerable.


Now I don’t like to use the word “journey” as it’s terribly overused. But let’s be honest. It’s such a wonderful description when achieving something that isn’t arriving at one single location but rather a process, right?


The other day I was ruminating on vulnerability and what it really looks like. This picture came to mind.

I believe that there are three aspects that create the environment for vulnerability to flourish. Each aspect on their own might not, but together, they create a “perfect storm”, if you will.

Back to the “journey” of being vulnerable. If you’ve been burned, traumatized, or taken advantage of, moving back to a place of vulnerability can be quite difficult. It’s not some spot you jump to and say “I’ve arrived!”


Rather, it flows like a winding river, and you are the one who chooses to get into the boat and make your way down the river, when you’re ready.


Now, once you’ve decided that you would like to be vulnerable and open yourself up to someone you trust; to create a meaningful relationship with a foundation built on something real; there are three aspects to remember.


Courage

Removing the mask you hide behind, one that makes you feel safe even if it is a lie, is a difficult thing to do. When you expose an unrestricted thought, or an experience that makes you feel “less than”, there is fear. Fear that whoever you’re sharing with will take this golden nugget of yours and break it into dust, minimize it, or throw it in the trash.


Whether that fear is rational or not, the feeling you have of it is real to you. Therefore, stepping into vulnerability takes great courage.


Remember, courage doesn’t mean that you don’t feel fear. You feel the fear and you decide to press on anyway. That is real courage. If you didn’t feel afraid, you wouldn’t be doing something hard, and then you wouldn’t need courage, right?


Communication

There is a timing aspect when it comes to being vulnerable. Communicating properly is key.

Let’s take a marriage for example. If your spouse comes home and you decide to start talking about the weather, your favourite movie, and all things related to the perfect cup of coffee, technically you’re communicating. But are you creating a deeper connection?


I’m not saying small talk is irrelevant. However, I’m talking about communicating deep thoughts and heart felt sentiments that create an intimate relationship. One where vulnerability begets more vulnerability.


The way this is done is also important. For example, if I had a dream that made me think about life on a larger scale, I will not bring it up the moment after my husband wakes up. He is amazing and engaging, but he’s also a night owl, not a morning person. Over the years I’ve learned, when I want to share something important with him, I need to allow him to:


A) Wake up…fully B) Let him know that I would like to talk


The second part is about creating an environment to connect on a deeper level. If Shaun is watching the hockey and/or football game, I know not to start sharing a past experience or future goal. If I want him to hear me, and share his thoughts in return, setting this ground work (removing distractions) allows for an opportunity for us to connect well.


Honesty

Honesty and vulnerability are inseparable. In fact, I think the best way to put it is that they are married. Where you find one, you other is not far behind.


Now, the reason honesty on it’s own isn’t vulnerability is because if someone didn’t like your sweater and they said, “Wow, that’s one ugly sweater”, they could argue they were being honest. However, being blunt and rude is different that being honest in vulnerability.


Here’s what it means. When you share your heart, thoughts, and feelings without knowing the outcome, that’s being honest in vulnerability.


For example, if you love someone but you aren’t sure if they love you in return and you still step out and say “I love you”, you’re being honest with an open end. This in turn is scary. It can either pay off well, or end in potential heartache.


Another example of this would be if you are with a friend, and they ask, “How are you?” If you are going through a really trying time in your life, do you cover it up and say “Fine.” Or do you step out, be honest with them, and say “Actually, things have been really hard. Do you mind if I share more with you?” This is when growth, connection, and life-giving exchange happens.

So there you have it, the three aspects of vulnerability. Courage, communication, and honesty.


If you are in the process of being more vulnerable in your life with the people you love and those who love you, good on you! It takes courage to be honest and properly communicate who you really are.


The great news is that the more you do it and see the fruit that comes from being vulnerable, the more you want to step into it!


If you’re interested in reading more on vulnerability, check out my previous blog, or pick up any book by the fantastic author and speaker Brené Brown.


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