How to Be Vulnerable
Whether we struggle to be vulnerable with our partner, friends, family, or anyone, here are some things you can do in order to be closer with your loved ones or friends by opening up and practicing being vulnerable…
1. Ask for what you need. When we’re hurting, it’s easy to dismiss our pain or try to protect ourselves and the people around us by closing off. Achieving close connections means being willing to speak up when we’re in need. Admitting that we need someone to lean on or that we’re struggling or need help allows our loved ones to feel for us and respond to us in ways that bring us closer.
2. Be willing to expose your feelings. Sometimes we are afraid to expose our feelings even to ourselves. But acknowledging and accepting our feelings is an important part of being in touch with ourselves and sharing ourselves with others. A big part of strengthening our connections involves being willing to share how feel with someone else.
3. Say what you want. As a therapist, I’ve sat in a room with so many couples who are very good at stating exactly what they don’t like and don’t want from their partner. This leads to a lot of tit for tat and back and forth that gets them nowhere. Instead of blaming each other and complaining, I encourage couples to say what they want from their partner. It’s usually much harder for partners to do this. When they take a chance and try and get in touch with what they want and do say what they want, they often feel sadness from opening up and being vulnerable. Their voices and expressions soften. Often their partner no longer feels on the defense, and their body language changes, turning toward their partner and really feeling for the other person. It’s touching to see the connection people feel for each other when they’re strong enough to be vulnerable and say directly what they want.
4. Express what you really think. In addition to expressing our wants and needs, it’s important to be honest about our point of view and showing our real selves. Our relationship should be a space in which we aren’t afraid to say what we really think. This doesn’t mean being insensitive or unnecessarily hurtful, but it does mean offering an authentic exchange. We should be open to giving and receiving feedback without being overly defensive. Remembering that we are all human and therefore flawed can help us have more self-compassion and interest as we engage in more honest exchanges.
5. Slow down and be present. Part of vulnerability is being willing to be in the moment with someone else. When we listen to our critical inner voice or spend a lot of time in our heads, we can miss out on intimacy. Looking our partner in the eye, listening to what they have to say, and being willing to give time and attention to the moment are acts of vulnerability that are often harder to do than we imagine. Yet, engaging in each of these behaviours keeps us closer to one another and to our own feelings.
Here are some useful videos on vulnerability: