Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ask Your Bestie: I Struggle With Vulnerability




I've got another edition of Ask Your Bestie for you today!  Today I'm answering the question:  "I struggle with vulnerability and it's affecting my personal relationships...do you have any advice?"

First and foremost, I will say this:  vulnerability is HARD.  It's hard for everyone, so please hear me say:  you are not alone!  I don't think it's something we will ever "achieve," but a good goal is to practice vulnerability more often and progress toward it more and more over time.  There are a lot of ways to do that, but if you are saying your personal relationships are suffering from a lack of vulnerability on your part, it may be good to first ask why.  Are the people you are trying to be vulnerable with making it difficult in some way?  Have they proven untrustworthy in the past?  Are they overly critical of you?

If none of that seems to be the case, it may be that you never saw vulnerability modeled for you as a kid.  Somewhere along the lines, you may have gotten the memo:  just DON'T be vulnerable.  It's risky, you'll get hurt, it's not worth it.  You don't need to go all Freud on yourself, but these are just generally good things to consider when vulnerability is a struggle.

Depending on what your specific struggle with vulnerability is, there are a couple of different things you can do to increase it.  One is to be honest...just practice telling the truth in every situation. Find ways to tell it gently, or sternly if you need to, but don't be afraid to say how you're really feeling.  It always feels easier in the moment to placate, but in the long run that usually leads to bitterness and resentment.

Next, I would say don't shame yourself for how you feel.  Guilt and shame are huge barriers to vulnerability.  It's easy to look back on a situation and wish we had done or said something differently, but let that be the end of it.  If you catch yourself ruminating on a past conversation or situation, gently remind yourself that you are who you are, you are a work in progress, and the people who truly love you will love you because of and despite these things.  A great book on the topic of vulnerability is "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown.

Lastly, I would always recommend checking in with a therapist, even for just a few sessions to talk a little more in depth about your desire to be more vulnerable and what may be getting in the way of that desire.  It's so helpful to just be able to hash things out in a few focused conversations with a professional.  If nothing else, they will validate you and encourage you along your journey!

For additional information about vulnerability see this post and this one.  

If you have a question for me, please don't hesitate to ask!  Email me at:  cbearsecounseling@gmail.com.  Your identity will be kept 100% anonymous.

Lots of love to you all today!

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