“Vulnerability opens the door to deeper connection to one another.” ~ Gail Lynne Goodwin
He pressed his hand against the window as if he were crying with the sky. It was pouring outside and so were the tears streaming down his face.
Without looking up, he said, “Grandson, when I was a young boy, I used to dance naked in the rain. You must do this too.”
When I heard this story about Nelson Mandela and his grandson, I was struck by the wisdom conveyed in this simple visual.
“Be vulnerable! Dance naked! Cry!”
This rang in my mind, especially the dance naked part. Why have I never done that? Or have I… oh yes, I have, just not in the rain.
It rained all day today. “It’s December and it’s too cold,” I reasoned with myself. I had my opportunity and I let it pass me by. How often have I done this to myself, I wondered.
How often have I let my fear and silly reasons rob me of having an authentic experience with the people I love?
Far too often.
Vulnerability takes guts. It’s like walking on the edge of a cliff with our eyes closed and asking our heart to guide us to solid ground.
In fact, that’s exactly what it is.
We’re constantly exposed to the external elements (judgment, scorn, humiliation) and we’re battling an internal wave of emotions (fear, self judgment, self doubt) while trying to communicate our feelings with grace.
Being vulnerable is the pathway to authenticity and authenticity is the bridge to another human being’s heart. It’s the lifeline that will keep us connected to one another.
This being vulnerable can be tough.
So how do we walk the edge without falling off the cliff? How do we dance naked in the rain without getting wet?
I’ve broken it down to six essential elements:
1. Being Responsible.
This is different than “taking responsibility,” as there isn’t any blame or finger pointing here. Being responsible is the ability to respond from your fundamental nature. In other words, taking ownership of where you are emotionally, mentally and spiritually and being able generate your authentic voice from this space. A voice that is true to your highest good and the highest good of all involved.
2. Honesty and Transparency.
Tell the truth, to yourself and others. Be forthright about what is and what is not about the situation you’re opening up about.
3. Create the Space.
In your heart space and your physical space. A safe space where you can honor where you are and allow yourself to be free from any constraints to share.
4. Heart-Centered Communication.
If we speak from our hearts, our authentic intention will land in the heart of the person/people you’re speaking to. Communication is the ability to transmit a message and have the intention be fully received by another. When we speak from the heart it won’t matter what words come out of our mouths because the intention will be felt.
5. A Willingness to Accept the Outcome/Response.
This is what usually stops us from sharing ourselves vulnerably. We are unsure how what we have to share will be received. What we share could very well change the perception that people have of us and could land in a way that doesn’t resonate with them. We have no control over how people will respond to what we share, so we must be willing to accept the outcome of our sharing, no matter what that outcome is.
The truth is that others might feel hurt when you make the sacrifices you need to in order to stick to your own path, and that’s okay. The people who are meant to be in your life will stay.
6. A Willingness to Remain Open.
When we expose ourselves, there’s a natural inclination to want to close up, retreat or withdraw. If we can remain open and continue to be vulnerable, we can step through the fire unscathed. You’ll discover that you’ve taken a stand for something and usually that something is yourself.
Being vulnerable is a courageous act but it’s the key to opening the door of connectedness to another human being. And if connectedness is the pathway to love, isn’t it worth the risk?
In the comments, tell us about a time you let yourself be vulnerable. What was that like for you and what did you learn from it?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Linda Pharathikoune
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Rena Sap/Pixoto