When I opened up about the story with my mom and how she stole my identity, abandoned all of us, and how we’ve still not heard from her since, I felt an extreme amount of anxiety. I felt it in my stomach, it took over a lot of my thoughts, and left me feeling exposed and raw. I was worried about how others would look at me, if I had made anyone upset with the story I told, and that I’d really overshared a very vulnerable part of my life. I felt like I had made a mistake in being so open. This is how I feel when I’m super vulnerable, and eventually I realized I’d made the right decision in being so open. In part because it helped a lot of others.
Vulnerability is the ultimate human connector. This concept is why I love Brene Brown so much, and it’s really what started my career — completely on accident. My ability to connect to others through vulnerability is a strength I have. I preach how important it is all the time. However, being so open and vulnerable is not always the best policy. Many situations are different, which is why it’s important to do a vulnerability check before laying it all out there.
Are you healed?
Whether you’re being open in a business setting or personally, I think it’s really important to decide whether you’re healed from the situation you’re being open about. If the thing you’re being vulnerable with is still raw for you, you may not be comfortable enough with it to put it out into the world. I’ll be honest, once it’s out there, you have to be ready for a lot of opinions on it. If you’re not healed, distanced, or sure about your feelings and views on it, it may be too painful to share it. Before you decide to be vulnerable and share, make sure you have some sense of healing, or that you’re not still processing it.
Can you trust this person?
Who are you being vulnerable with? Is it a friend, a partner, work colleagues, or all of your followers? If they share the story you tell them, will you be hurt by that? If they judge you, will that be painful for you? These are all good questions to ask when you’re being open and vulnerable. Some stories aren’t meant for all of your followers, and if they aren’t, make sure you can trust who you’re telling. Vulnerability is the biggest human connector, but it can also be ammunition against you in the wrong hands. I can often get a sense of trust when I’m being open with others, and sometimes I can feel if they are gossipy with what I’m telling them. If I tell my followers, I am obviously okay with that story being told in a large capacity. Just make sure you’re okay with the information you put out there!
Are others involved?
This is a big kicker for me. In fact, if there are things in my life I’m not sharing, it’s usually because of this piece right here. It’s fine to be vulnerable about your own experiences if that’s what you choose to do, but make sure you’re not violating the trust of someone else in the process. Make sure you’re not hurting the others involved. This gets tricky for me with family stories, my kids, and my relationships. I want to be open and to connect to others and to be open about the hard things, but I also don’t want to hurt anyone else that the story might include. You need to decide for yourself what the lines are. And, if you’re not sure, you might want to reach out to the people involved to get their blessing.
Being open, honest, raw, and vulnerable is hard. However, I’ve also found that it’s the most rewarding process, and it’s helped me connect to thousands and thousands of people. It helps others feel seen and understood. It helps all of us to know we aren’t alone in the hard things. I’m a huge proponent of being real and vulnerable, but not about anything that can cause you or your loved ones any heartache. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself some questions before being so open.
Vulnerability should connect you, not harm you. Tell me about a time when vulnerability has helped you connect to someone else!