If ever there were a buzz word these days it's Vulnerability. It's the new black and a lot of people are trying it on for size.
Thanks to the brilliant Brené Brown, the concept of being open, sharing our lives — warts and all — and being vulnerable has been trending for several years now.
In the light of people baring their souls and struggles with the world, it has begun to help destigmatize serious issues like mental illness, body shame, financial troubles and so much more. Even with these positive outcomes, there is a potential dark side to shining the light on your vulnerable spots.
(Photo from Natalya Letunova)
1) Too Much Too Soon
Sharing troubles we have yet to work through, reconcile and heal from is like taking a cake out of the oven before it’s baked all the way through. The healing process is a non-linear and precarious process that, when interrupted by sharing with too many people, can spread our precious resource of personal energy quite thin. Mrs. Brown talks about it in the poignant book Daring Greatly. It is the idea of owning and understanding your story first before sharing it with the world. Ownership takes work. If you choose to share your struggles with the world, first make sure you do the heavy lifting of sorting through things for yourself and with those you trust. This is very important when you’re in the midst of a struggles. Brené Brown sums it up quite well in Daring Greatly:
"Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure, and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process."
Which leads me to my next point….
2) People Need To Earn Your Trust
While doing the work of being honest with ourselves, dealing with our dark parts, and deep issues, the people we choose to share our stories with need to earn our trust. Sharing our hearts and minds with others is not to be taken lightly. Not everyone is worthy of receiving another’s heart. People need to earn trust through acts of compassion, listening, and showing up when you need them. The key part of that last sentence? “Acts”. Look for actions, not words when it comes to finding a person to share your vulnerable parts with.
3) Sharing Issues on the Internet is Not Always Conducive for Lasting Healing
Sharing on the internet makes you vulnerable, but it is not necessarily the act of being vulnerable. Big difference. True healing and intimacy that offers a better chance of longevity needs to happen first at the level of one-on-one interactions. A scenario in which someone can hold space, respond and be with you as you work through troubles step by step. This can’t be found on Instagram. Unloading issues online just doesn’t offer the essential factors of in-person conversation with a trusted individual. Confessing your struggle to hundreds of strangers is no substitute for sharing it with a trusted few.
(Photo by Sebastian Leon Prado)
Ultimately we need to set the rules for our own levels of comfort with sharing and vulnerability. Some people are naturally more extroverted. Others are more introverted and private. We all have different personal make-ups when it comes to being open with others. Keep in mind the tried and tested ways of sharing our experience with others that lead to positive outcomes: avoiding too-much-too-soon scenarios, taking the time to own our stories, talking to people that have earned our trust, and beginning on the ground level by confiding with those you love and have your best interests at heart. These are important things to remember.
Just because it feels like everyone is out there sharing their story, doesn’t mean everyone is. And it doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest option for you. Choose for yourself. Share with discernment and awareness and see where it takes you.