4 Myths about Vulnerability

I’m back from my holiday, which was wonderful. We saw beautiful views, hiked incredible heights, listened to talented bands, and even jumped off a bridge while harnessed to a bungee cord. While I’m back home, summer is still here though, so I’m going to continue to soak in every last drop. The blog will be back to regular posting starting today.


Last year my counsellor suggested I read The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. The insights I’ve gained from these books have been so worthwhile in my life,and I highly recommend them. Brené Brown is a research professor studying shame, vulnerability, worthiness, and courage. She defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” In a chapter of Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown discusses common myths about vulnerability, and here is what I learned from it.

Mental Health, Counselling, and Myths about Vulnerability

1. Vulnerability is weakness.

Vulnerability is often associated with “negative” emotions such as fear, shame, sadness, and disappointment. In actuality it is also connected to feeling of love, belonging, courage, joy, and empathy – and all other emotions. While vulnerability is uncomfortable, that does not equate with weakness.


Weakness is defined as lacking strength whereas vulnerability is defined in the dictionary as being open to injury. This shows that choosing to be vulnerable is an act of truth which takes strength and courage.

Choosing to be vulnerable is an act of truth which takes strength and courage. Click To Tweet


2. Vulnerability is optional.

Some people like to say and believe that they “don’t do vulnerability.” Their reason cited may be their gender, profession, or personality. While they may choose to avoid some aspects, ex., romantic relationships, there is no avoiding vulnerability altogether.


Vulnerability – uncertainty, risk, emotional exposure – is in every facet of life including family, friendships, work, art, learning new skills, and more. Situations in which we instinctively become scared, angry, judgmental, controlling, or perfecting are clues as to where we feel vulnerable. While we cannot choose whether or not to experience vulnerability, we can choose our responses to it.


3. Vulnerability involves revealing everything to everyone.

In our culture where it is popular to document every event of our lives with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on, there is such a thing as oversharing. This is not vulnerability.


Vulnerability involves sharing ourselves with those who have earned the right to hear through mutuality, healthy boundaries, and trust. It is a mutually dependent connection because we must trust to be vulnerable, and being vulnerable builds trust. Within our relationships attention, engagement, work, and few betrayals create the atmosphere of trust necessary for vulnerability and connection.


4. Vulnerability is unnecessary.

While independence and “looking out for number one” are often admired in our culture. Giving help is applauded while asking for help is often seen as a sign of weakness. This is not true. Going it alone can actually be quite lonely and depressing. Humans are social beings and thus require nonjudgmental support and encouragement from friends or family. This also includes professional help such as a therapist.


These types of relationships can only be forged through vulnerability. Those whom we’ve built trust with, as above, and truly love us are going to be in the trenches of life with us, and they will continue to love us no matter our perceived screw ups. Everybody else’s opinions don’t matter.


How do you experience vulnerability?

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