Emotional Vulnerability: Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
Emotional vulnerability is the ability to recognize, feel and express your emotions. Particularly the more challenging ones.
For many, ‘emotional vulnerability’ sounds scary and feels even scarier. If you grew up in an environment that did not encourage and nurture the expression of emotion or perhaps worse – showing emotion was met with shame and disdain, it can feel terrifying and unsafe to both accept another’s emotions and express your own.
Children are inherently resilient and will do anything to survive; in a situation of being denied permission to be emotionally vulnerable it would result in cutting off all ties with emotion. This denial of access to emotion becomes a life preserver to prevent getting terribly hurt. These adaptive survival skills exercised in childhood come at a cost. Later on in life, in perhaps a safer more accepting environment, this protective measure doesn’t simply reverse itself. It requires a lot of self-awareness, healing and a deeper understanding of how important and valuable emotional vulnerability is, to allow oneself to go there.
Why is emotional vulnerability important? It helps you and it helps your relationships.
When you reveal deeper sides of yourself, not just the attractive and the alluring but the rawer, realer, and flawed, you connect on a more intimate level. You are showing both yourself and your loved one that there are inherent parts of you that crave to be acknowledged, noticed, loved and accepted. And when you and your partner are able to support that level of vulnerability, it can create magical opportunities of growth and connection for the relationship.
If this idea feels novel and overwhelming I would strongly encourage you to begin this journey as self-work. What does it look like for you to be vulnerable with yourself? You can choose to do this in front of a mirror, through a journaling process, or meditation, whatever feels right for you. You turn inward and begin to notice feelings as they come and label them. I am feeling scared, anxious, disappointed, uncertain, wary, confused, defensive, strange. You then accept those feelings as they are, no judgement, no rush to shift them into something more ‘positive,’ simply giving them space to come and giving them space to go.
The more you practice within yourself, the easier and safer it will become to show up that way in your relationship. It is an incredibly healing and transformative process to be able to shift from a space of fearing vulnerability to welcoming and embracing it.
Do you struggle with vulnerability? Do you want to work on creating safety around feeling emotionally vulnerable?
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