The biggest lie to ever hit the self-help world is the idea that vulnerability is a superpower!!!
I have so much to say about this and I will be the first to say my disclaimer that I am speaking from the perspective of someone who bought into that and was destroyed by it because my vulnerability was in the hands of someone who used to to manipulate me.
Let's unpack this whole idea of vulnerability shall we?
The definition of the word "vulnerable" is susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm; a person in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect.
That is NOT appropriate in the self-help or leadership world. This word is reserved for the people in our world who actually ARE vulnerable. This, to me, sounds like one of two things, which I have piggy-backed off of Frank Viola.
In an article I read, Frank talks about healthy vulnerability versus unhealthy vulnerability and I totally agree with the concepts however I am calling it a different name.
Healthy Vulnerability - this is simply Openness
Unhealthy Vulnerability - this is USING vulnerability to manipulate people into giving you what you want.
Let's dig into both of these.
The definition of "open" is allowing access, passage, or a view through an empty space; not closed or blocked up; exposed to the air or view; not covered.
Or better yet "openness" is lack of restriction; accessibility; lack of secrecy, or concealment; frankness.
Brene Brown is well known in the leadership world and I love her work. She is a big believer in vulnerability so I am going against her vocabulary here but I still believe in her views. I think we are just calling it the wrong thing.
She says that when we see other people being "vulnerable" (openly sharing) we see it as brave. When we think of ourselves being "vulnerable" (openly sharing) we see it as a weakness.
This brings me to boundaries. When we have been hurt by a person or a situation, it is usually because a boundary has been crossed. This could be because someone forcefully crossed it, or we bent our own boundary to accommodate the demands of others. Either way, we were hurt, causing us to not only put that boundary back up but create a WALL to make sure that it is never crossed again.
Instead of trying to convince someone with a WALL to be "vulnerable" (good luck with that), what is really happening here is that we are encouraging the person to open a window. You don't have to let them completely into your space, but it's ok to let them see. This is being open.
There is no reason, I repeat, NO REASON why you should EVER compromise your boundaries in order to be "vulnerable". This is a recipe for disaster.
You should see some of the conversations around vulnerability on social media. People are SO confused!
A: "You have to be vulnerable to truly feel love at its deepest."
B: "But how do you know who to trust?"
A: "You won't know until you've been vulnerable." B: "So what if they break you?"
A: "That's the beauty of the risk of vulnerability!"
Yeah, good luck selling me on that. I was vulnerable to people that took that information and used it to break me down, devalue me, and show me that not only was I not ok, but my family, friends, career, and everything I knew to be true about my childhood, upbringing and adult life was a lie and I had fallen for it.
He used my deepest fears to scare me.
He used my deepest regrets to shame me.
He used my darkest secrets to expose me.
And he used my deepest loves to control me.
Be vulnerable? Never again.
No thank you.
That's for those who are so compromised that they literally cannot take care of themselves. They are so unintelligent, damaged, weakened, paralyzed or deteriorated that they cannot care or think for themselves... How is that self-help? That is self-destruction.
It's handing someone your whole heart and soul and hoping that they don't abuse it. Why would you even put someone in that position. That isn't even fair.
No. I am smart. I am capable. I am strong. I am fully willing to confidently give someone a view into my life through an open window. I'll talk about literally anything because I have nothing to hide. I have everything to gain by telling my story and letting people see. I'll forever be open... never vulnerable.
If you liked this blog you'll love the podcast episode where I dive deep into my experiences with vulnerability and how I think you should approach openness! Go to Spotify or hop on the website to hear Episode 5 of Shattered to Unbreakable: The Reclaim Podcast!