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What Does It Mean to Be Vulnerable? 15 Ways You Can Open Up More

It’s a scary thing to open up, but what does it mean to be vulnerable? Learning how to do it will greatly enhance your relationships.

what does it mean to be vulnerable

Ever wondered what it means to be vulnerable? Let’s get one thing straight – we’re naturally designed not to be vulnerable. Due to how the world promotes us to harden our hearts, vulnerability doesn’t come naturally to any of us.

Vulnerability is usually seen as a weakness. Hence, why people that like you ghost you or act hot and cold. That doesn’t excuse why people choose to do what they do, but it explains a lot on their behalf.

Even if you think you’re preventing yourself from becoming miserable, you’re also holding yourself back from true happiness. As scary as vulnerability is, it’s also part of the human experience. [Read: The hardships of being afraid of intimacy]

Vulnerability – Why it doesn’t make you weak

The assumption is that when you’re vulnerable, you seem weak, but that isn’t the case at all. If anything, vulnerability makes you strong and resilient. It’s perfectly normal to want to shut off your emotions and stop feeling everything, especially your difficult emotions.

But if you’re wondering what does it mean to be vulnerable, it’s wearing your heart on your sleeve. Vulnerability is not and never will be a weakness as it’s part of being human. For instance, when you’re going through a breakup, the thing that makes you strong isn’t shutting off what you feel and pretending you don’t have a heart.

Rather, it’s the ability to sit with your emotions and process every one of them. Is being vulnerable uncomfortable? Yes, without a doubt – but it’s also necessary. Otherwise, you’ll sacrifice a lot of great relationships and friendships along the way. [Read: What does it mean to be vulnerable? 15 ways you can open up more]

Why is it important to be vulnerable?

Mastering the art of vulnerability gives you the resilience to handle even the most difficult situations and emotions. When you’re dealing with something as difficult as grief and loss, vulnerability can make you feel weak and you wish you couldn’t feel a thing, but it’s that vulnerability that makes you capable of surpassing the situation.

Another reason why it’s essential is that vulnerability makes you build great relationships with others. When you shut your feelings off, you’re also shutting yourself off from so many great potential connections with others. If you can’t let people in, then how can you maintain relationships?

You’ll end up pushing everyone away until nobody sticks around, all because of your fear of vulnerability. [Read: How to be vulnerable in a relationship and feel closer instantly]

What does it mean to be vulnerable?

If you’ve been told you’re a difficult person to open up to, it’s because you don’t want to be vulnerable. However, that needs to change if you ever want an honest and meaningful relationship. What does it mean to be vulnerable? It’s harder than it looks but here is everything you need to know.

1. It’s not about weakness

Being vulnerable isn’t about being weak. Vulnerability is about opening yourself up to someone and letting that person into your world. It’s okay to protect yourself, but there are some people you should connect with on a deeper level. You’re not weak by opening up – you’re strong.

You need to keep this in mind the next time you’re being vulnerable. If anyone ever convinces you that you’re weak just because you show emotions, they don’t deserve to be in your life. [Read: These unique traits show you if someone is trustworthy]

2. Know why you flee

Usually, right when we’re at the moment of being vulnerable, we bail. Yeah, this is why you’re known as an asshole. This is because when we sense danger, we move away from it. Also known as the flight-or-flight response, this is why we either shut our emotions off or run away from them when our feelings get too overwhelming to handle.

If you want to realize what does it mean to be vulnerable and overcome your fears of vulnerability, understand the emotions connected to fleeing and learn what triggers you. [Read: How to be emotionally available so you can actually feel love]

3. You can handle whatever happens

You need to remember that whether or not the outcome is positive, you’ll be able to handle it. If you think that running away from vulnerability prevents you from getting hurt, think again.

If you keep shutting your emotions off, you won’t be resilient or strong enough to handle difficult situations. If there’s anything vulnerability can teach you, it’s your ability to withstand anything that life throws your way. [Read: Feeling hopeless: How to stop feeling overwhelmed & see hope again]

4. Don’t stop yourself

Instead of putting up your walls, give yourself the okay to experience openness. If you’re feeling pain, instead of running away, ask yourself why you’re feeling it. Your emotions are always teaching you a thing or two, so how else are you supposed to grow if you don’t sit with your feelings?

No matter how easy it is to put up your walls, refrain from doing it. In learning what does it mean to be vulnerable, don’t stop yourself from feeling your emotions. When your fight or flight response is triggered, don’t run away or prevent it. [Read: 14 steps to emotionally connect with someone and feel closer]

5. Accept yourself

At the end of the day, before you ever practice vulnerability, accept the fact that you are worthy. You’re worthy of your dreams and goals, and you’re worthy of human connection. By accepting yourself as who you are, you allow yourself to open up to everything around you.

When you haven’t accepted yourself as a whole, it’s a tendency to run away from yourself, including your emotions. So accept yourself and be kind to yourself! [Read: 11 tips to fall in love with yourself and be a better YOU]

6. Understand you’re already hurting yourself

Here’s the thing about vulnerability – by closing up, you already hurt yourself. Your emotions are pent up inside your body and mind, and this idea of protecting yourself actually creates more pain. By being vulnerable, you increase your chances of being happy.

Keep in mind that you can’t be truly happy when you keep closing yourself off from emotions. Repressed emotions will break you more than accepting your emotions ever will. [Read: How to let go of insecurity and be happy in a relationship]

7. If you’re feeling emotional, talk about it

One of the best ways to overcome vulnerability is to talk about your emotions and feelings. There’s a reason why you feel scared or unsure, and it’s best if you speak to someone about it. This allows you to practice vulnerability with someone you trust.

It’s the primary reason why women are able to process emotions better than men do – they’re used to talking about their feelings with others, whereas men don’t share similar tendencies. [Read: Emotionally stable: How to find your zone of perfect calmness]

8. State your needs

To become more vulnerable, you need to state what you need. And you know what, this is actually very difficult to do. Many of us don’t talk about what we need with other people. Of course, if the other person still doesn’t fulfill your needs, that’s another problem entirely.

However, your partner can’t fulfill your needs properly if you don’t initially state your needs. You’re not being demanding by stating your needs; you’re being human. We all have them, so why should you hide yours from others?

9. Get yourself a reality check

Every now and then, we need a slight reality check to put us back in our place. When we put up walls, we’re not expressing our feelings and needs. Thus, it only continues to build up inside of us. What happens? We eventually burst like a bubble.

Getting a reality check from your partner, family, or friends can help bring you a new perspective on your behavior and what you need to change. [Read: How to get the inside voices out of your head]

10. Track your feelings

Still confused over what does it mean to be vulnerable? If you can, start by writing down your emotions throughout the day. Note down why you’re feeling this way, and how you acted on the emotions. This will help you become more aware of your feelings and triggers.

Whether it’s journaling or just writing them down, this can help you become more self-aware of your emotions and track them better. Perhaps you find you’re an emotional eater or uncommunicative when upset. [Read: How to control your emotions and become the pinnacle of restraint]

11. Not being vulnerable gives people power

People usually assume that by being open, you give yourself away to other people. However, that’s not true. By opening up, you show others that you’re in control of your emotions and accept yourself.

It’s why vulnerability isn’t a weakness but a strength. The more you run away from your feelings, the more you’re giving your power and control away. [Read: How to stop playing power games in relationship and focus on love instead]

12. Take baby steps

You don’t need to lay your heart out on the table right away. It’s not going to be that easy. So if you’re wondering what does it mean to be vulnerable, it’s not diving headfirst into the water right away. You can’t be vulnerable right away, but you have to take it one step at a time.

Step by step, make yourself open up more to the people you trust. There will be days you’ll want to retreat into your shell again and shut off what you feel – that’s okay. What matters is that you’re trying your best to open up yourself to the world. [Read: How to open up to someone and form a deeper connection]

13. Don’t expect positive outcomes all the time

You’ll have positive outcomes, but remember, this is life. Do expect that some outcomes won’t be positive. There will be a lot of days where you won’t feel good after being vulnerable. You might feel out of control some days, but that doesn’t make you weak.

If you’re wondering what does it mean to be vulnerable, you’re not on a constant high all the time. [Read: How to be vulnerable in a relationship and feel closer instantly]

14. It takes a lot of trial and error

You won’t be perfect at vulnerability overnight and it involves a lot of trial and error. As we mentioned earlier, there will be days where you feel like doing the opposite of opening up.

You’ll want to hide behind your walls and never open up, ever again. However, you need also to remember that if you’re going to be happy, you need to be willing to wear your heart on your sleeve.

15. You need a lot of courage to be vulnerable

The world has got it all backward, as it takes a lot of inner strength to be vulnerable. It’s much easier to harden your heart than to open up because you’re getting yourself out there when you open up. Vulnerability means you’re also risking the possibility of getting hurting taken advantage of, and that’s why it’s for the brave. [Read: How to be fearless – 18 ways to set aside fear and live like a champion]

Vulnerability is strength – are you brave enough?

Being vulnerable means expressing your emotions and opening up to someone. Compared to the opposite, which is hardening your heart, vulnerability is an act of bravery and courage. It takes every ounce of strength to be vulnerable with the people around you.

[Read: 20 signs of emotional maturity and traits that reveal a mature mind]

Now that you know the answer to what does it mean to be vulnerable and how to do it, it’s time you gave it a try. You won’t master it overnight, but it’s worth trying. After all, you can’t be happy without being vulnerable first.

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Natasha Ivanovic
Natasha Ivanovic is an intimacy, dating, and relationship writer best known for her writings on Kiiroo, LovePanky, Post Pravda, and more. She's the creator and ...
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