I don’t know about you but in the last few years I have seen a trend of people being more vulnerable with others, or at least they seem to be. People share the raw, unfiltered selfies, messes in their homes and struggles. It helps others connect with them and makes them seem more real. There are so many gifts of true vulnerability but before we can talk about that, we need to discuss fake vulnerability.
While there are definitely people that are generally more vulnerable as a way to be real, authentic and genuine for their own wellbeing, there are also people that use “vulnerability” as a way to fake connection. Why fake connection? Most often, it is to manipulate others or it is about their shame due to trauma around being seen.
Let’s unpack both of those. First, there are people who fake vulnerability so that others are vulnerable and then that vulnerability can be used against them. With influencers, they sometimes fake that connection as a way to relate so you buy their products. For friends or peers, they make fake authenticity in order to get you to be vulnerable, only to use that against you or make themselves feel better about their lives.
While I started with that, it is important to note that not everyone is malicious in their vulnerability. Some people desperately want to connect but don’t know how so they mimic the vulnerability they see in others in an attempt to connect. Others were taught it is not okay to be vulnerable so they censor the vulnerability and only share in ways that appear vulnerable but aren’t really emotionally connected for them. Yet others try to be vulnerable but are so disconnected from themselves they don’t even know what their true, raw self is.
So, how can we distinguish true vulnerability in ourselves and others versus fake vulnerability? First, trust your gut. If something seems off, note that. That doesn’t mean blindly trust your gut but it does mean notice that feeling of something being off and look for clues that support or contradict that feeling.
If we are sharing our vulnerability in order to connect and honor ourselves, that is one thing. However, if we are sharing our vulnerability to gain a certain response from others, that is manipulation.
Now, let’s shift gears a little bit.
What are the gifts of true vulnerability? Brene Brown once said “There is no intimacy without vulnerability”. When we are able to be vulnerable with people, we are able to be seen for who we really are which is a way to honor our true self. We are able to connect with others in deep ways that cannot be fabricated.
While there are many misconceptions about vulnerability being weakness, vulnerability is actually one of the most courageous and brave things someone can do. To expose your true self and not know how it will be perceived or if it will be accepted takes courage. But, it also opens doors for true connection.
Yes, I realize that I said the same thing two different ways just now but I wanted to make sure that you got the point, that vulnerability breeds authentic connection.
Now, in this post I don’t have the space to go over when to be vulnerable, who to be vulnerable with and how much is too vulnerable so be mindful of those things (or talk to your therapist about it if you have one) because some vulnerability can be more harmful than helpful but the helpful vulnerability is something worth working on.
Now, go out and seek safe opportunities to be vulnerable while also being mindful of what true vulnerability looks like.
Jocelyn is a Licensed Professional Counselor and course creator who desires to help clients heal and grow into who God created them to be.