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Finding the Courage to Be Vulnerable

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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistAugust 18, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Part of what makes love so powerful is that we feel understood and cared about. The more understood we feel, the more powerful our connection. So the more you allow someone to understand you, the more likely it is that you will feel loved.

But to be understood you have to be willing to share openly and honestly about yourself. You have to lower your defenses – you have to make yourself vulnerable.

Researcher Brené Brown describes embracing vulnerability as “whole-hearted living” and explains: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

To live fully, it is essential to find the courage to be vulnerable. While this is difficult for everyone, it can feel like too much of a risk if you feel insecure within yourself. For you, this could mean believing no one would ever love you or fearing that the pain of rejection would be too overwhelming. You can overcome these obstacles by finding ways to feel valued by others and to be engaged meaningfully in the world. You will then feel you are worthy of love and you will have the resources to be resilient during emotionally difficult times, including a broken heart. With this in mind, consider doing the following:

  • Let yourself feel good about the good you bring to the world.
  • Engage in activities you enjoy.
  • Practice finding beauty and joy even in life’s small things.
  • Nurture friendships at all levels of emotional intimacy. By being generally friendly and open to others, you will find that you are surrounded by kind acquaintances, people you enjoy socializing with, and even a few deeper connections. If you pay attention, you will feel appreciated and valued by them all.
  • Learn to say “you’re welcome.” When others express appreciation to you, practice taking it in and allowing yourself to feel valued.
  • Pay attention to—and heed—the messages others give you about themselves. If someone is open, caring, nonjudgmental, and seems respectfully interested in you, you may have found a wonderful friend. However, if they are quick to criticize, tend not to express caring, or are not respectful of you, think twice about including them in your life in any significant way – even if you feel incredibly attracted to them.

When you do these things, you create not only more enjoyment in your life, but a safety net for when life throws you off balance. So, for instance, if you open yourself to romantic love and end up with a broken heart, the positivity you’ve created will help to carry you through the pain.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a gift you give yourself. It is the opportunity to live whole-heartedly and to open your life to love.

Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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