Vulnerability is, in most cases, challenging. You must confront rejection and express your emotions to be vulnerable. You can improve your relationships and general well-being by overcoming your fear of vulnerability and becoming more open.
What is emotional vulnerability?
It requires recognizing your emotions, especially unpleasant or painful ones.
Instead of focusing on hedonistically pleasurable emotions like love and joy, it is more concerned with dealing with undesirable emotions like wrath, shame, worry, loneliness, and others. This is because acknowledging and thinking about negative emotions might be uncomfortable.
What is Emotional regulation?
It refers to the numerous ways in which we can express emotions, control the emotions we experience, and understand the timing of those emotions. These can be behavioral or cognitive, like reappraisal (e.g., situation selection).
Forms of emotional regulation
- Cognitive reappraisal is the process of changing the meaning of a situation by reframing or reappraising it (i.e., looking at it differently).
- Expressive suppression– the prevention or concealment of your emotional expressions.
- Distraction– the act of removing oneself from an emotionally charged circumstance.
- Emotional acceptance– accepting feelings, significantly negative feelings, as natural reactions to stressful situations without criticizing or rejecting them.
Emotional Acceptance Vs Emotional Vulnerability
The technique of actively connecting with one’s emotions and turning toward them is known as emotional acceptance. It is neither a passive acceptance of one’s feelings (such as holding on to unfavorable feelings) nor circumstances (such as accepting discrimination as “acceptable”).
Contrary to popular belief, confronting feelings through emotional acceptance does not worsen them. In reality, emotional experiences can be significantly improved over time by emotional acceptance.
Rumination and vulnerability are not the same things; you shouldn’t become fixated on your unpleasant emotions. Avoiding them can be hazardous, but so can do this.
When you are emotionally vulnerable, you accept your challenging emotions rather than act on them immediately.
Stages Of Vulnerability
- Being aware of your feelings (s). For instance, noticing your feelings of rage, despair, or anxiety without acting on them or thinking about them.
- Validating your feelings. How could you approach this? Reminding oneself that it’s okay to experience whatever emotions you’re experiencing would be considered validating your feelings. This indicates that there is no criticism of oneself. This involves actively interacting with your feelings.
Examples Of Vulnerability
- Taking risks that could result in failure
- Disclosing personal details that you ordinarily keep private and discussing mistakes you’ve made
- Experiencing unpleasant feelings like guilt, sadness, or dread
- Reestablishing contact with a former adversary Being open and honest about your needs in a relationship, such as your expectations and boundaries.
Benefits Of Vulnerability
- It could reduce your anxiety.
You might believe that experiencing painful emotions is a surefire way to make anxiety worse, yet the contrary is often true. Many people with chronic anxiety disorders think that having poor feelings is terrible and that having bad feelings is something to be afraid of.
When you start putting vulnerability into practice, you change the message you are giving your brain. It sends a message to oneself that unpleasant emotions are not all that horrible when you start noticing and allowing yourself to experience them, which might help you feel less anxious overall.
- It might improve relationships.
Vulnerability helps you better understand one another’s viewpoints, attitudes, and aspirations.
It thus strengthens relationships by encouraging intimacy, trust, and closeness as it expresses your confidence and trust in the other person.
Vulnerability makes it possible for people to comprehend each other more deeply, including their anxieties and their most profound emotions, which can increase empathy in both partners.
To be open and vulnerable with others, such as friends or a romantic partner, you must first be open and vulnerable with yourself by acknowledging your emotions.
- It boosts self-awareness
You can start identifying your emotional blind spots and protection mechanisms by noticing your feelings and cognitive patterns. Painful feelings frequently become more intense the more we attempt to suppress them. You will understand why and how you react to certain situations.
- It encourages regulating one’s feelings and brings a sense of belonging.
We are training ourselves to control uncomfortable emotions and manage them when we practice becoming more comfortable with things that are generally uncomfortable, like expressing an uneasiness or asserting our demands.
It also lessens feelings of embarrassment.
Being open to being hurt can free us from fear, shame, or anything else we may carry. Even while our shame may be telling us we don’t deserve connections; our vulnerability is a method to develop them.
This means that, despite their possible anxieties of not being worthy, when we accept someone at their most vulnerable, we are letting them know that they are not alone and belong.
- It could help reduce conflict.
Vulnerability can reduce stress and conflict in your relationship by promoting open communication, intimacy, connection, and self-control.
Vulnerability fosters accountability and open communication in healthy relationships rather than negative habits like shifting the blame, avoiding conflict, or blaming the other person.
This reduces the likelihood of a dispute escalating.
When we can react to something painful with vulnerability rather than wrath, we prevent the other person from becoming defensive and allow them to realize their impact.
- Improve self-acceptance
You may accept and embrace diverse facets of yourself by being vulnerable. This can encourage a lot of sincerity and confidence.
Fear Of Vulnerability
Fear of vulnerability is apprehension about sharing one’s emotions with others. People afraid of showing weakness frequently strive for perfection, isolate themselves from others, and keep their loved ones at a distance.
For those who have problems connecting with their emotions, emotional exposure might cause social anxiety.
How does the Fear Develop?
There are several ways that fear of vulnerability might manifest. If someone is routinely rejected from applications for employment, programs, or close relationships, they can be reluctant to put themselves out there again. In addition to abusive relationships and criticism from family members, fear of vulnerability can also result from these types of hurt, which can negatively affect one’s mental health and lower one’s self-esteem. Self-worth is enhanced by having a supportive social network and a desire to venture outside your comfort zone.
Also, you were open and unrestrained as a young child, giving everyone in your life your entire self. However, as you develop and grow older, you might realize how harsh the world can be. You discover that only some are on your side and that only some circumstances will turn out the way you want them to.
The ability to defend yourself may have developed over time for you. This could indicate that you’ve created barriers around your emotions, persuaded yourself that you never truly loved the one who wounded you anyhow, and honed your denial skills.
Even worse, you might have started internalizing unfavorable ideas and sentiments about yourself. This could result in blaming yourself for all situations.
Effects of not being Vulnerable
You can easily escape into a secure area by erecting walls, but doing so also stops the flow of energy and love in both directions. It is simple to become imprisoned behind your emotional barriers, unable to express or accept both pleasant and bad feelings. Many people feel alone and isolated as a result of this.
Also, as you engage in an elaborate game of push and pull, drawing a possible partner in, then emotionally pulling away when they get too close, then drawing them back in once distance has been restored, it has the unfortunate side effect of harming other people.
Tips To Overcome The Fear Of Vulnerability
Being vulnerable is scary and difficult. However, overcoming the fear of vulnerability can boost confidence, self-awareness, and friendships while strengthening romantic and friendship bonds. To overcome a fear of vulnerability and encourage self-love and personal development, try new things, talk to new people, and keep a journal.
Embrace the real you
One of the hardest lessons you will ever learn is to love yourself. Everyone has shortcomings, regrettable past events, embarrassing anecdotes, and weaknesses they would prefer to forget. People are awkward and insecure and wish they could change some things. That’s just who we are.
Realizing that everyone feels this way is the key. Everyone has the same uneasiness, insecurity, and self-doubt, regardless of how successful, gorgeous, or perfect they seem.
Give your honest viewpoint without changing it to reflect how your spouse might feel.
Instead of asking for what you “should” desire, ask for what you want.
Express your needs to be understood and avoid frustrations from your end. Do not assume people know. Let people know when they hurt you.
Assertiveness is also uncomfortable. However, assertiveness in everyday situations, such as speaking your preferences to friends or the waiter, might train your brain to believe you can tackle challenging tasks. You start to develop self-assurance in your capacity to communicate complex ideas, which might make you feel prepared to recognize and express uncomfortable feelings. You might consequently become more emotionally exposed as a result of this.
Journaling can be a reliable tool to help you open up more. To express how you are feeling and acknowledge those emotions, try keeping an emotion-focused journal. You can gradually work up to expressing your emotions to others by using this technique to help you express them to yourself.
Seek professional help
You get a chance to practice expressing your emotions in therapy or counseling regularly. It would be best to express your feelings, but a therapist may also assist you in recognizing complicated feelings that you may have suppressed in the past.
Ask open-ended questions
This is in case you want someone to open up to you. Open-ended questions may inspire one to reveal a vulnerable side. You can use these questions to get the background information required to comprehend your spouse/ friend fully. Avoid assuming you already know the solution and can relate to their situation.
Give them your full attention and respect their perspective if they react. Be kind to them and praise them for sharing that. Trust is developed significantly through acknowledgment.
In conclusion, a person gains vulnerability by demonstrating that they are trustworthy with increasingly sensitive, valuable information. Not everyone deserves it.
You don’t need to keep letting people hurt you if they aren’t demonstrating that they are trustworthy with your feelings and emotions.
It might not be safe to be vulnerable with someone if the relationship is abusive or if they have repeatedly betrayed your trust.