There are times when it might be seen as a dirty word. A sign of weakness or inability.
Yet the ability to show and share our vulnerability paves the way for establishing trust. If we think about the Trust Equation, vulnerability helps us to establish greater Intimacy by virtue of sharing or revealing something people may otherwise not know about us.
And trust is intrinsic to building relationships and connecting with others. Rom and Ori Brafman provide some great insights on how vulnerability can quite literally help us better ‘click‘ with others.
I saw this first hand recently during a workshop I facilitated with a team wanting to build better relationships with each other. We did a simple exercise where everyone got five minutes to talk about their frustrations with the group and without interruption. To an extent the process also asked participants to share their vulnerabilities and some participants did exactly that.
What this ultimately did was pave the way for the team to have more open and frank discussions as the day went on. It helped them better understand each other and start to connect with each other a little more.
On a more personal level, my daughter is about to have a tonsillectomy. My partner and I are afraid about her having a general anaesthetic because of its implicit risks. Rationally the benefits are obvious. Emotionally it’s just plain scary.
Funnily enough when I share this fear with people, reveal my vulnerability, people always respond with kindness and support. They commonly share their own experiences in turn – from the funny to the heartbreaking. Revealing vulnerability it seems triggers empathy and instigates reciprocity, which deepens the relationship from both sides, making it more human and more personal.
So while on the surface showing vulnerability can feel like weakness, I find myself often pondering the notion that the ability to accept and reveal our vulnerabilities is in fact a hidden strength.
Certain yoga postures can make us feel physically vulnerable, especially when held for a sustained period of time or engaged intensely or repetitively. These include positions where we lift the sternum or breastbone and others where we externally rotate the hip joints.
What the practice asks of us in these moments is to cultivate the ability to be in a physically vulnerable position. To sit with that raw, naked vulnerability and simply experience the sensation. When we open ourselves to the experience of vulnerability we also open up the possibility of accepting and connecting more deeply with ourselves.
These physical poses are a metaphor we can interpret quite literally.
Perhaps next time you find yourself concealing or withholding something for fear of being perceived to be weak or incapable – instead could you make a different choice? Perhaps you could share a little about that perceived fear, weakness or vulnerability with someone? You might even ask for their help?
I wonder what new possibilities and deeper connections it will open up for you.