The history of the word vulnerable is derived from the Latin noun vulnus, meaning wound. The meaning of vulnerable began as “capable of being physically wounded” or “having the power to wound.” Etymologists described vulnerability as violence; to wound, maim, hurt, injure, pluck or tear another organism.
When we expand our minds beyond the Webster’s definition, a reflective beauty appears in the word. There is a spontaneous beauty presented, one never experienced before. We can see vulnerability in a newborn’s arrival and their first breath to the Orca whale diving for food, to the people making eye contact and extending a greeting. Vulnerability comes in all shapes, colors and sizes. Whether it’s the tear that trickles down a plump cheek, the mid tone of tightening vocal cords or feeling the bounding race of each beat as it fills with blood.
Vulnerability takes courage, strength, determination, openness and awareness. Not everyone is vulnerable, but everyone can be. When one opens their mind, space and self to vulnerability the world becomes more vibrant, exciting and scary all at the same time. Who likes to feel rejected, trampled on or unfulfilled? No one. It is easier to not be vulnerable, yet in the end blocking vulnerability stunts our growth and uses more energy.
Based on our past experiences that have created negative feelings, we remain on high alert when vulnerability strikes. Our subconscious reminds us what happened last time and the feelings attached to that memory. To protect ourselves we flee from experiencing similar feelings. What our minds negate to let us in on is that this is a new situation and most of the variables have changed. Being open is the secret (for most) to connection.
Here are some ways to allow yourself to be more vulnerable.
1. Identify what you avoid and why
2. Do something new
3. Talk about your feelings
4. Do something by yourself
5. Be honest
6. Talk about yourself
7. Give a compliment
8. Own your mistake
9. Admit when you do not understand something
10. Ask questions
12. Engage in a fear
Recommended books on vulnerability:
Too Close for Comfort: Exploring the Risks of Intimacy by Geraldine Piorkowski, Ph.D
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown
Vulnerability by Catriona McKenzie, Wendy Rogers and Susan Dodds
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson