I start this post off with a brief discussion about children (hints the photo), because children embody vulnerability. And unlike adults, children typically don't associate negativity with exhibiting emotions or "being emotional".
If you think about it children cry, throw a tantrum, get angry, frustrated, smile, hug, kiss, etc. at a moment's notice, without much consideration, and that's largely because they typically hold no regard for how they are being perceived. Well, that is unless their parents consistently respond to that behavior in a negative or reinforcing way. Otherwise, children essentially operate on a fundamental level in their vulnerability without regard for consequences or perception.
Imagine how fearless you'd have to be as an adult to exhibit that kind of emotional response without consideration to perception...
And although children grow into adults who come to learn to communicate in a different way (hopefully in an effective and healthy way), throughout childhood and adolescence they tend to default to expressing their emotions without much regard for consequences.
So what then becomes the difference between adults' and children's ability to embrace vulnerability?
The answer, in my opinion, lies in identifying our individual inability to be fearless, concern for how others perceive our pain, hurt, anger, etc., and how comfortable we are with being ourselves.
So, this post will be a gem, and I can promise that if you haven't located a therapist yet, and it's on your to-do list, chances are these questions will be up for discussion.
This post will serve as a quick reference tool to support you on your path to becoming the best version of yourself, by encouraging you to embrace vulnerability and live unapologetically!
UNDERSTANDING PERCEPTIONS OF VULNERABILITY
Social rules dictate that we are overly conscious of emotional displays and expressions of vulnerability because we've been conditioned to operate under the notion that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. And although some cultures have stricter guidelines and consequences than others, "being vulnerable" in general, has been a concept for years that's perceived as a liability. Historically, men shouldn't be vulnerable to distract from their "masculinity", and women, are expected to be vulnerable just enough to nurture, but not too much, or we're perceived as "crazy" or "unstable".
CONSEQUENCES OF STIFLED VULNERABILITY
What we don't tend to consider when repressing our vulnerability is that there are individual consequences. And I hate to be the bearer of news, but there are psychological consequences for stifling vulnerability and emotions. Withdrawal, aggression, anxiety, depression, and personality disorders are just a few psychological consequences of holding in emotions. Similarly, repressing emotions can too have physiological consequences as well, including but not limited to a compromised immune system, weight gain, headaches, and or manifested physical dysfunction. Therefore, if for no other reason than to protect your psychological and physical well-being, should your motivation rests in the knowledge of this post.
WHY YOU SHOULD EMBRACE EMOTIONAL VULNERABILITY
There are great benefits to embracing vulnerability. Embracing emotional vulnerability allows you to genuinely connect with others (strengthening relationships and bonds), and heightens self-awareness, self-love, and self-acceptance. Being unapologetic encompasses a level of understanding and comfort of one's self that is so visible to others that they have no choice but to be more inclined to embrace you just as you are. Those connections, awareness, acceptance, and love are the foundations of peace.
Putting up walls and repressing emotions is easy, a lot easier than being vulnerable. There is great strength in vulnerability and it's something we should shift our perceptions to embrace and not shun. Because when we learn to embrace our feelings, we easily identify with and sympathize with others. And these qualities are what keep us conscious, centered, humane and relatable.
WHAT EMBRACING EMOTIONAL VULNERABILITY LOOKS LIKE
Those who fully embrace emotional vulnerability and are confident, comfortable, and resilient. They are the individuals you remark as being "just who they are". They are the "take it or leave it" individuals, who know what they can offer, and what they need and can easily identify what does and does not serve them. They are able to experience, understand and process emotions in a way that embraces their insecurities, deficits, and strengths. They are not pitiful but optimistic, fully embracing the possibility of failure, so they can be resilient, resourceful, and creative when responding to disappointment. They are compassionate with others and themselves and are not concerned (or worried) about what others think or feel.
Embracing emotional vulnerability does not always look like an angry outburst, frequent tears, etc., it essentially is an active effort to acknowledge your feelings (emotions) in order to validate them. Validating emotions is a way of expressing compassion to yourself in order to give yourself permission to feel justified in how your experience/interaction affected you. That, in turn, gives way to self-awareness and grants you the opportunity to analyze and be open to accepting that your response/feelings are not always shared with others. You learn that you can empathize with others while also validating your feeling. You learn that you can compromise with others while validating your feelings as well. Choosing to embrace emotional vulnerability will change your life but you have to be willing, to be honest with yourself and challenge the habits of repression to become the best version of yourself that you can be.
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