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How To Be Open, Let Your Guard Down And Overcome Fear

Vulnerability doesn’t just show up accidentally in your relationships. It’s a value you choose to prioritize intentionally. It’s something you build and nourish. So it’s a skill set that requires deliberate steps. Vulnerability is about being open, unguarded, exposed, and unarmed. It is challenging to be vulnerable when living with unhealed trauma. The emotional wounds that haven’t fully healed interfere with vulnerability and make it difficult. For this reason, being intentional with it is crucial. It also takes courage to be vulnerable in the face of adversity and internalized fear.

This is for you if you value intimate close connections but struggle with trust and the fear of rejection. This is an invitation to find the courage to be vulnerable.

What’s the Big Deal About Vulnerability?

Vulnerability directly impacts the satisfaction of your relationships with yourself and others. It allows you to be your most authentic self and to let your guard down. Vulnerability doesn’t guarantee protection from heartache, but it affects how you show up in relationships—the quality of your approach changes. And because you show up differently, you’re less likely to regret your choices and decisions in those relationships. This process of being unguarded helps you heal from the trauma of exclusion, rejection, and abandonment, especially when you align it with your true values and practice it with those willing to show up vulnerably with you too. 

When you connect to your vulnerability, you connect with others and grow as a person. As a result, there’s less:

  • Isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Feeling like an outsider

What Happens When You Build Vulnerability in Your Relationships?

One way to understand the benefits of vulnerability is to see its two sides: The internal and the external. 

Internal Benefits to Vulnerability

  • You get to know yourself and feel more connected to who you are
  • You can let go of your fears and feel more secure and confident in who you are
  • You become less critical of yourself
  • Build trust, honesty, and openness with yourself
  • You stop hiding and show up more courageously for yourself

External Benefits to Vulnerability

  • You feel more authentic and genuine in your relationships
  • You develop stronger bonds, intimacy, and closeness with other people
  • You foster empathy with others
  • Build trust, honesty, and transparency with others
  • You allow others to get to know you more fully

It isn’t easy to just delve into being vulnerable. So here are a few ideas to get you started.

How to Show Up Vulnerably

  • Talk About Vulnerability Itself

What’s your fear about it? Why is it difficult? What are you afraid would happen if you show up vulnerably?

  • Name Your Emotions When You Communicate

Naming your emotions when you communicate helps you practice vulnerability. At the core of this is taking an emotional risk with your partner(s) and people close to you. Be tuned into yourself when you do this, so you’re doing it with the right people at the right time.

  • Pick an Example

Share it, discuss it, explore it: Sharing through an example coming from a real experience helps you establish a genuine connection, foster understanding, improve communication, and humanize your experience. We connect through our stories.

  • Diversify Your Vulnerability

Vulnerability isn’t just about painful things. It’s also about your desires, wants, and needs that have to do with joy, pleasure, play, and adventure. So Apply it to the things that scare you AND to the things that light you up! An example of this is sexual desire.

  • Balance Between Vulnerability and Privacy

Are you using the reason of privacy to protect yourself? Or is this REALLY an off-limit topic or space?

Vulnerability is both important and sacred because it requires safety and trust. Without these two pillars, vulnerability can’t thrive. Because it is sacred, you don’t need to show up vulnerably with everyone. You have choices about who, when, and where you do it. This choice is part of being intentional. Check out some of our previous pieces if you struggle with figuring out this part. I would recommend these: 

When it comes to relationships, there’s no one-size-fits-all. These ingredients are meant to guide you, so you can navigate this in a way that matches you.

  • What are some ways you can show up more vulnerably with yourself?
  • What are some ways you can show up more vulnerably with others (in healthy relationships)?
  • Are there unhealthy relationships you could be less vulnerable in, and therefore, hold a healthier boundary in?
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Hiba Khatkhat

Hiba is a holistic psychotherapist specializing in trauma, couples treatment, and culture. She's passionate about solving mental health crises by practicing prevention. She brings over 18 years of experience working with individuals, couples, & families in her private practice. She is known for her work on the transmission of trauma and its impact on relationships.

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