To share a real-life experience or obscure the details? That is the ultimate question many have to face every time they sit down to draft a piece.
My personal experiences inspire most of my content. However, I do my best to keep “I’s” to the minimum for the very touchy subjects. It’s a struggle between being somewhat vulnerable and not straying from the image — I think others have of me.
So, rather than owning my story, I try to mask the details and create a third persona. Sometimes, this fear causes me to leave out great ideas for a blog post. I mean, I don’t want to be judged; no one likes it.
To Be Vulnerable or Not To Be?
Vulnerability is a deep feeling of fragility, where one opens them-self to emotional or physical harm or attack.
The human tendency is to react to this self-protectively; towards the world and others as Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., puts it. This fear often emanates from The Fear of Rejection, causing one to build walls around them.
However, in doing so, it keeps you trapped in your emotional defense. Whereby when you can’t give or receive love or energy, it may lead to feeling isolated.
A study by Paula Niedenthal shows that we download vast information about others by looking at them. It’s a process called “resonance”— where one reads the expressions of another. (It happens automatically and in a rapid manner.)
That’s why we feel uncomfortable when someone is faking and can see through their in-authenticity. Just as we can tell when someone isn’t okay even when the person insists that they are doing fine.
Typical of interviews, I was once asked to describe myself in terms of the personality I ascribe to; introversion or extroversion. I am not fond of feeling boxed in, especially when one has to choose from a limited number of options.
(My personality changes depending on the environment and current mood. There will be times I enjoy the company of others, and other times, the thought of it makes me uneasy.)
And I responded as such—not the exact words. But the interviewer insisted that I had to pick one of the two. Outright, I gave a response I thought he was looking for. That’s one of the critical advice given on interviews—show the company that you are what they are looking for in an ideal candidate.
The remainder of the interview remains a blur, as my mind kept drifting back to the moment with, “What if…?”
In a study on Expressive suppression (a strategy to regulate one’s emotions), James Gross demonstrates how we register insincerity in our bodies. When a person tries to hide their feelings, psychologically, the other person responds with a rise in blood pressure.
What it takes to allow yourself to be Vulnerable?
Courage. It’s the ability to face circumstances that make you less comfortable. It allows you to confront a situation that feels precarious. The challenge then becomes differentiating between courage and foolhardiness.
The latter involves acting impulsively without contemplating the consequences of your actions.
Vulnerability isn’t about acting submissive or weak. It allows you to acknowledge the part of you that you are probably afraid of expressing.
Many people believe that when you become vulnerable, you open yourself to hurt. That you expose yourself to rejection and feeling fragile. However, being vulnerable enables you to:
• Connect with others
In the presence of authentic people, we automatically develop an intrinsic sense of comfort. It’s the root of deep social connections. As we are drawn to people, who are their true selves.
• Embrace Imperfection
We all have moments of self-doubt, insecurity, and weakness. It is part of who we are: no matter how others perceive you. Acknowledging your flaws and imperfections; is the beginning of your journey of Self-love.
All you need is to realize that your past doesn’t determine your present or future.
• Find value in who you are
Many times we make decisions out of fear of what people will think about us. In that, we define ourselves by the opinions of others. Add it with the self-created checklist that you try to live by; you limit your potential.
Being vulnerable teaches you to love yourself for who you are. It allows you to get comfortable with yourself. You no longer shy away from taking risks because you feel you aren’t good enough.
When you do that, people will be more comfortable around you as you permit them to be vulnerable, too. This post is my first step to taking the walls down, an article at a time.