Vulnerability. Even writing it makes me a little uncomfortable. Yet, it can’t be avoided. Vulnerability has become part of the business and cultural lexicon.
It impacts leadership – where showing your true self is a path to authenticity and connection. It makes us like and relate to people. It helps build psychological safety within groups.
What most discussion about this topic has in common is that it is framed as an external activity. You are vulnerable with someone, or you do it in a group. We think the presence of others is what makes it hard, because we don’t want to suffer potential embarrassment.
Get real with yourself
For me, the harder part is actually being vulnerable with myself. The internal version has more barriers and thorns to navigate, and doesn’t come with the reassurance and connection of external sharing.
There is a reason we are so great at distracting ourselves – playing with our phones, or constantly being busy. The reason is being alone with our thoughts can be overwhelming. The only person to remind you it’s okay to grapple with inconsistencies and things you might not like about yourself – is you.
What does internal vulnerability look like?
Internal vulnerability looks like being in the present moment – not ruminating about the past or being anxious about the future. Noticing what is going on in your mind, without judgment. Accepting yourself ‘as is’ and not condemning the less desirable pieces to the background.
For me, it means realizing some of the things that I thought were strengths – like showing up as strong and determined – can hold me back when they keep me from asking for help. Acknowledging that I am human, and like other humans, I have limits (even though in my mind I can take on the world!). Confronting the expectations I place on myself and knowing that they may be doing more harm than good.
Working towards vulnerability
One of my goals last year was to be vulnerable and to share my story. I made it a priority because I was coaching others to open up, and not really walking the talk (one of those inconsistencies that pop up in the quiet moments).
I have written about things that are hard, and spoken publicly about my most difficult experiences. I made progress externally. And I’m finding that I still have work to do on the internal piece. It’s hard work and it takes effort, and I am not great at setting aside the time to really go there with myself.
I see vulnerability as getting closer to the truth. Not as weakness or being susceptible to outside forces. Truly grounded in the what-is of yourself. Try spending some vulnerable time alone and judge for yourself if it is easier or harder than the external version. I commit to putting down my phone and doing the same!