READ TIME: 7 Minutes
Being vulnerable and sincere is more attractive than ever before.
Hell, it got Trump elected!
In today’s world we place enormous focus on putting our best foot forward, even if it is not an accurate depiction of ourselves. We focus on how the content we create on social media will be consumed, how others opinions of us will be shaped by the content we create. Before you think that this only applies to content creators like professional bloggers, writers, celebrities on traditional networks and on social media platforms etc… remember that just about all of us are creating content for our social media platforms.
Even if it is just sharing your vacation photos on Facebook or your dinner photos on Instagram, all of us are creating content and thinking of how others will see us as a consequence.
Thinking about others opinions of us is of course normal but the scale and weight of their opinions in determining our actions has never been this strong. Hell, I know girls who hate hiking, hate nature (with its dirt, sweltering heat, and insects) and yet go hiking just to get photos for their instagram account. Let that sink in, they are actively doing something they detest for the sole purpose of showing off their cute outfit, and active lifestyle to other people.
Undoubtedly all of the new communication channels available to us (social media platforms) are a massive net positive for the world; however, self consciousness and behavior altered by social pressure (other’s opinions) is one unintended downside.
In a world where we are all so driven by our own self image, other people are starved for sincerity and vulnerability. Despite being more connected online we tend to feel more alone.
Why is Vulnerability Attractive?
Vulnerability has always been an attractive communication trait because when we are vulnerable it conveys that we are trustworthy (we hold nothing back) and that we are confident (we are comfortable with our worst attributes being on display) and those things are attractive in a friend, coworker, leader, lover... anyone.
When I say vulnerability I want to make an important distinction - it is not the same thing as weakness. It is the dead opposite. Weakness is being derailed and losing your ability to function in the world as a result of your emotions, beliefs, and painful memories. Vulnerability is taking those things which may have derailed you like anxiety, depression, painful memories, or self perceived limitations and then put them on display for others to see and then acting as best you can with full awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.
I think that so many of us have a fear that people will discover that we are not perfect. We spend so much psychic energy concealing our imperfections.But when you turn that energy around and use it to highlight your strengths and weaknesses for others to see, they like you more, trust you more, see you as more confident, and most importantly, they understand what makes you tick more.
When others understand what makes you operate then they fall in love with your strengths and are more understanding of your shortcomings. Not only that, but when you are vulnerable with others you give them subconscious permission to be vulnerable too. To open up and share with you things that they don't with others. That bonds you two closer faster and that is a good thing provided you choose good people to be vulnerable with, people who have your best interests at heart and vice versa.
How to Bring Attractive Vulnerability Into Your Relationships
So that being said how do you do it? What is the takeaway in your day to day life? What actions can you take to move in the direction of attractive vulnerability?
Here are 3 easy techniques to be more vulnerable and improve your relationships.
#1 Explain the irrational
A good first step is to spot your moments of irrational behavior, understand them, and explain them to whoever you are being irrational and unreasonable to.
We all have times when we get more angry than we should, we get sad far more than expected, when we get jealous and protective, when we get embarrassed totally out of proportion to the event. These are often moments when our past relationships and events out of our past are coming back up and coloring our present experiences.
I remember with some of my past girlfriends I would often times get massively overprotective and jealous. It wasn't until I identified why I got so jealous and then shared that motivation with them that I got over my irrational jealousy.
(For those curious, I lost my virginity to a girl who had a boyfriend at the time. He found out and it broke the poor guy's heart. I felt like karma was going to come bite me in the ass for years until I identified this cause and reframed it as a sign to me that I will never be that homewrecking guy again. How is that for vulnerability?!)
#2 What made you who you are?
Sharing the moments that formed your character is one of the fastest ways to build a deep connection with other people and understand yourself better. If you haven't had a conversation like this I highly recommend it for strengthening your relationships - talk about what made you who you are with other people and if they are willing to share their story with you, have the decency to listen!
Just as with everything in life, it is the minority of inputs which produce the majority of outputs (the 80/20 rule) and so it is the minority of the events in our life which have shaped the majority of our character. Usually our early childhood events.
If you haven't looked at this connection before, here are a few good books that will get you to understand your own narrative better.
Key Person of Influence - Geared toward entrepreneurs but the section on how to “pitch” yourself is also a good guide to self investigation
King Warrior Magician Lover - a book on how we evolve (or don’t) into maturity as men based on 4 personality archetypes
Memories, Dreams, Reflections - Written by Freud’s contemporary Carl Jung - An autobiography of one of the most influential psychologists of all time. Reading his story and seeing how Jung connects the events with his early childhood with his path as an adult is a model in self awareness.
#3 Why do you do what you do?
Of course the third vulnerability is belief - like politics but also what beliefs you have that shape your day to day behavior. This one is easy to get into - just ask someone why they do what they do and dig and dig and question and learn until they get to the core motivation and belief that makes them who they are. Do the same with yourself.
With this blog and with any communication and emotional health themed content that I create, my motivation, my why came from understanding how having crippling anxiety and feeling isolated drained my life of any joy. It made life feel not worth living. And on the flip side I saw as I replaced my anxiety and isolation with confidence and connection, how overwhelmingly grateful I felt to be alive and have a new day each morning.
The belief that motivates me in writing and producing videos and speaking is this - Insecurities isolate us and sap our love of life. By ridding ourselves of our insecurities and connecting again with other people we gain access to more energy, more emotional wellbeing, and better people skills.
So dig into your beliefs and ask yourself why you do what you do. Here are a few good reads on self awareness.
CliftonStrengths assessment - An online test that indexes your strongest attributes from high to low. Helps identify careers, communication styles, and work habits which you would excel in.
Psycho Cybernetics - The first (and best) detailing how our image of our self guides our behavior. Written by a plastic surgeon who saw that physical changes left the same limiting beliefs in his patients.
Awaken the Giant Within - A self help classic but the chapter “The Science of Neuro Associative Conditioning” is one of the clearest explanations of how beliefs are created I have read.
Zen Mind Beginners Mind - One of the single best meditation books available. It is amazing what you learn about yourself when you sit quietly for 10-20 minutes a day.
The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem - Not a guide on self awareness necessarily but useful to have a map in mind to get where you want to go.
As Man Thinketh - A helpful reminder on the power of your habitual thought. Once the first 4 resources in this list shed light on what makes you tick, this book urges you to manage your thoughts effectively.
When you share your vulnerabilities others understand you better, trust you more, and open up to you as well. The misunderstandings and distance that so often haunts our relationships falls away and the relationship feels more secure and more exciting. Which one of your relationships are you going to bring more vulnerability to first?