December 26, 2022

How To Be Vulnerable: 10 Ways to be More Open in Relationships

Written by Sara Lane

Posted in Self Help / Personal Development and with tags:

how to be vulnerable in relationships person jumping off cliff by ocean

What’s scarier than putting yourself out there for someone else to see? Vulnerability is a brave and courageous thing, but it comes with risk.

Even if it takes a while, or you’re unsure of what it takes to avoid getting hurt when you open up your heart, little steps are steps nonetheless. Be as brave as you can be today, and know that you’re enough.

If you’re struggling to open up in your trusted circles of friends, these tips are for you.

10) Find the Root of Your Social Anxiety 

Putting yourself out there in front of other people can be scary, and that’s worth a second thought.
So why is showing the real “you” so terrifying and yet so important?

Researchers say that this may be due to a biological distrust of public speaking. Our fear of being vulnerable in a group setting potentially stems back to ancient days, when living in a group meant that conflict could result in ostracization or death.

When our ancestors were made to speak publicly, they were likely begging for their lives or being judged in front of a crowd with torches and pitchforks. That’s not a great way to treat our friends.

In fact, public speaking is often shown as the #1 fear among humans across the board.

This could explain why vulnerability is such a counter-intuitive concept. Sharing our innermost thoughts and feelings was once the catalyst for death. Today however, being open and honest is an essential factor in creating deep, connecting relationships with others.

9) Weigh the Risks

Even though we aren’t facing physical harm, ex-communication from our homes, or public torture when being vulnerable, it still comes with a degree of risk.

Vulnerability is defined as being open to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

Even though vulnerability is an essential element of living life to the fullest, we need to identify the ways in which vulnerability may result in positive or negative outcomes.

8) Find Connection and Stay Connected

Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” ~Brené Brown

Connection to beloved friends. Connection to family and traditions – new and old. Connection is a foundation for experiencing human life to the fullest.

In order for us to connect with the people and world around us, we have to allow ourselves to be seen as we truly are. And that’s a scary thing. But it’s so worth it.

Remember that inherent desire for human connection – the driving force behind your vulnerability. When you find yourself with an opportunity to share your heart in a safe environment with people who care about you, try to do so.

woman sitting in woods contemplating her life and connections

7) Know Your Worth – Yes, You are Worthy

One researcher cited a study where participants were asked to rate the amount of love and belonging they experienced in their circle of influence.

These people were separated into two groups: those who felt as though they belonged and were deeply loved and those who did not.

Among the two groups, the single factor that determined whether or not they belonged and felt loved was a sense of worthiness.

They believed that they were worthy of belonging. They were worthy of being loved.

And so are you.

6) Be Bravely Vulnerable

One aspect of connection is to be bravely vulnerable, whether you’re opening your heart in front of one person or a group of people, in front of a friend or a stranger, with fear or without fear…that’s key in the act of connection.

Letting yourself be known as you truly are is a core foundation of connection. Some ways to allow yourself to go there include:

  • Saying “I love you” first
  • Taking a leap of faith
  • Investing in a relationship that may or may not work out
  • Allowing yourself to share a secret you’ve never shared with anyone
  • Forgiving yourself and others

Being brave in new ways is a commendable journey. As you take steps towards success, be patient and encourage yourself.

how to be vulnerable in relationships connection woman in sunflower field

5) Find Your Tribe

Trying to find the people you actively want to connect with may sound difficult. In fact, you may already be thinking to yourself, “There’s no one around that really gets me.” And you may be right! Until now, you may not have boldly gone where you’ve never gone before.

But until you share your story and your whole self, you won’t get the chance to be known for the depths of your heart.

It’s often the most unassuming people in our lives who make the biggest differences. This could be your sister who’s always there for you. This could be a coworker that you barely know. This could be an old friend that you’ve lost touch with over time.

No matter the person, finding your tribe is less about outside appearances, shared interests, and similarities.

Rather, the person you connect with will be the person who – despite a multitude of differencesloves you for who you are. Hold onto this person (or these people). These people are your tribe.

4) Develop/Maintain a Positive Self-Esteem

If you, like so many others, struggle with developing positive self-esteem, this message is for you: You are enough. It’s essential to remember that you are worth sharing.

Sometimes we can get it into our heads that others won’t want to hear our story. That they won’t really like us once they get to know us. Actually, the opposite is true.

Vulnerability is a catalyst for creating deep relationships full of love and belonging.

Instead of putting yourself down, the next time you question whether to speak up about your story, thoughts, or innermost feelings, tell yourself — my story is worth sharing.

3) Be Brave – Speak Up

If your mind and heart have something to say that might hurt you if you are rejected, there’s a temptation to clam up and keep silent. No one likes rejection and we tend to avoid it at all costs.

But to allow ourselves the opportunity to connect and bond with others, we need to be brave enough to speak up when given the opportunity to share our story.

This might mean risking rejection, but it could also mean being brave enough to share your heart in a very real way – leading to meaningful relationships, powerful connection, and a sense of belonging.

So when you have a secret, loud emotions, disruptive thoughts, or just something you need to get off your chest, have the courage to share in a safe space with someone you can trust.

You may not feel brave, but the act of speaking your thoughts and feelings from the heart is brave indeed.

woman soaking up the sun on side of mountain vulnerability is courage

2) Ditch the Need for Perfection

Another key element to opening ourselves up for deeper connection is ditching the need to be perfect. This can be more difficult for some than others.

If you’ve cultivated a longstanding history of perfectionism in your job, your relationships, your family, your life – giving this up may feel absolutely terrifying.

But ask yourself: Is the chance to deepen my connections with friends and my family worth it?

By giving up perfection, you allow yourself to let go of the guilt and shame that holds you back from sharing messy life experiences.

By sharing your story, you allow yourself to be seen and heard. Instead of showing a perfect life that you don’t feel on the inside, sharing your heart is a way of breaking down those walls and showing your true self.

Even though it’s scary to give up the image of being perfect, letting that go is a huge step towards practicing vulnerability – and subsequently, deepening relationships.

1) Love Your Story

You have a life story that is unlike anyone else’s. In fact, it’s a beautiful mosaic of pain, joy, suffering, creativity, purpose, and belonging.

So when you’re gearing up to share who you are on the inside, validate the parts of your story that you’re afraid to love.

Remember that your story is unique and absolutely priceless.

No matter what, your story means so much. In fact, the vulnerability you show is a lighthouse for others, and can be the very act that spurs on someone else’s courage to be vulnerable as well.

Whether sharing your story results in deeper connections with friends, or simply a sense of accomplishment in yourself, that courage is powerful.

As Brené Brown would say, vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage.”

struggling with vulnerability man sitting on mountain top

Next Steps

If you or a loved one are struggling to open up, call (832) 559-2622 or text (832) 699-5001 us to get started with one of our Houston, Montrose, or Sugar Land therapists.  

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