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The Key to Building Lasting Relationships: The Power of Emotional Vulnerability

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I never used to allow myself to be emotionally vulnerable.

 

How could I possibly show people how I actually felt? I thought they’d either think of me as being weak or judge me. 

 

But I couldn’t take it any longer! Carrying around the weight of all my emotions, constantly pretending I felt differently than I truly did. 

 

What I’ve found in my own life is that emotional vulnerability has made me much closer to the people I thought I’d scare away. Along with a drastic improvement in my mental health!

 

I’ve even taken this approach to the stage with my keynote speeches. I found that emotional vulnerability makes me a lot more relatable to the audiences I’m speaking to. In turn, the audience will be much more likely to pay attention, learn, and take action based on my teachings.

 

I thought being vulnerable would hurt me. It turns out that emotional vulnerability in relationships has become one of my biggest strengths. 

 

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What is emotional vulnerability?

 

Emotional vulnerability is the willingness to acknowledge how you truly feel. It’s allowing yourself to be real with yourself and others, despite what anyone else may think. 

Psychology Today defines emotional vulnerability as “anxiety about being rejected, shamed, or judged as inadequate.”

When we talk about emotional vulnerability, we tend to mean being vulnerable about our negative emotions like pain, sorrow, stress, etc. But many people have trouble displaying their traditionally positive emotions too like love, joy, pride, and more. 

No matter the emotions, being vulnerable is favorable for yourself and your relationships.

 

The benefits of emotional vulnerability

 

1. Better relationships

 

One side effect of emotional vulnerability in relationships is that you’ll develop a stronger bond with the people in your circle.

Your relationships will be stronger, due to more intimacy and connection. Vulnerability breaks down walls and allows us to be our true selves.

It also builds trust because you’re being more honest with people.

 

2. Increased self-awareness

 

Emotional vulnerability is usually thought of as being honest about your emotions with others. But it’s also about being honest to yourself about how you’re truly feeling.

Being emotionally vulnerable with yourself and understanding your feelings is a skill that we can develop over time. And the more we understand our true emotions, the more we can influence them in a positive way.

Listen to our podcast on self-awareness to learn more!

 

3. Improved mental wellness

 

Being honest about your emotions is the first step to understanding your emotions, and then improving them along with your mental wellbeing. 

Acknowledging that we’re sad allows us to ask why we’re sad. And if we aren’t sure, we can ask for help.

We all need support at times. Emotional vulnerability gives you the comfort to ask for help and support when you need it.

 

How to become more emotionally vulnerable

 

Being open with your emotions may seem scary, and that’s because it is. We all have masks that we hide behind; many of us have worn these masks our entire lives.

 

But I’m here to tell you that the benefits of emotional vulnerability tremendously outweigh the fear you’re feeling now.

 

The secret to emotional vulnerability is self-awareness. 

 

Self-awareness isn’t something you’re born with or without. It’s a skill you can develop over time. Some proven methods for developing self-awareness are meditation, therapy, and journaling. 

 

How to practice emotional vulnerability in your daily life

 

Self-awareness and emotional vulnerability are necessary skills for a fulfilled life. That’s why you must carve the time and space in your daily routine to think and reflect. And then repeat that every single day.

Maybe it’s a daily walk that gives you time to think and reflect. Maybe it’s a morning meditation, or time spent journaling every day. All that matters is that you’re consistent.

Become aware of your own emotions and pledge to be genuine about how you feel with one person every single day as an initial step. And check yourself at the end of every day – was I really emotionally vulnerable with someone in my life today?

If not, don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, go back out tomorrow and do the same thing: find one person to become emotionally vulnerable with. 

Over time, this will become a part of who you are and how you do things. Emotional vulnerability will improve your relationships, as well as your emotional and mental wellbeing.

  

Examples of celebrities who have shown emotional vulnerability

 

Simone Biles During the 2020 Olympics

 

There’s been a long tradition in sports, and competition in general, of ignoring emotions. The stereotypical coach is shown pushing athletes (even children) to their limits – without mercy for pain, stress, or fear.

When Simone Biles bowed out of the 2020 Olympics due to her mental health and struggles with pressure, she reminded the world that some things are more important than sports.

By being emotionally vulnerable, Biles brought mental health concerns in sports to the forefront of media attention. And this has shown many others, who may have been too scared otherwise, that prioritizing your mental health is of utmost importance.

 

Emma Stone Opens up about her Anxiety

 

Emma Stone credits her anxiety disorder with her ability to add emotional profundity to her characters.

Stone became emotionally vulnerable in a way that let her understand her anxiety: she recognized the negative aspects and worked on them. She also embraced the positives that often coincide with anxiety, such as deep sensitivity and a tendency to reflect.

Now, Stone uses her platform to be emotionally vulnerable and help others deal with their anxiety. Stone’s advice to people suffering from anxiety is “You’re so normal, it’s crazy.”

 

 Use emotional vulnerability as a tool to improve your life

 

Now, you should have a basic understanding of emotional vulnerability and why it is beneficial – to you, and the people around you.

It’s a really simple concept that tends to be overcomplicated. Basically:

  1. Be aware of your emotions
  2. Be honest with yourself about those emotions
  3. Be honest with the people you love about those emotions
 

Do this, and watch your mental health and relationships dramatically improve!

Dr. Michelle Rozen
Dr. Michelle Rozen

Dr. Michelle Rozen, Ph.D., is a highly respected authority on the psychology of change. She is one of the most booked motivational speakers nationwide as well as internationally, and a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC, ABC, FOX News, and CNN on topics related to dealing with change in our world and in every aspect of our lives, so that we can do better and feel better.

Her most recent book, 2 Second Decisions helps people power through with their most challenging decisions through turbulent times.

Dr. Michelle Rozen consistently speaks for Fortune 500 companies and her clients include some of the most recognizable companies in the world including Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, Pfizer, and The U.S. Navy. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Psychology and resides in the greater NYC area.

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