We often like to hide our weaknesses, building up a wall around them to protect ourselves. But what if we could take strength from our failures and fragilities instead?
In a world where success and perfection fill our social media feeds and people are encouraged to celebrate their achievements loudly and proudly, showing any signs of weakness can sometimes feel like a failure on our part. But the truth is that accepting our vulnerabilities – whether they relate to anxiety, low self-esteem or a gap in our professional abilities – can improve our relationships and overall wellbeing. To help achieve this, we need to look more closely at our conditioned behaviour and examine what may be holding us back from becoming braver.
According to Dave Knight, a life coach and host of the podcast Sunday Settler (sundaysettler.com), part of the problem is the way that our society views such vulnerabilities. “Many of us have been socialised into believing that showing our weaknesses allows people to come in and hurt us – metaphorically speaking, like a boxer letting their guard down for their opponent to be able to attack,” he explains. “However, it’s not realistic to expect ourselves to have our guard up all of the time.” Life coach Nicky Clinch, who’s just launched a new membership collective to help people tap into their authentic selves (nickyclinch.com/the-awakening-collective), agrees. “We are led to believe that to be imperfect and to make mistakes is a sign of failure, but this is a completely unrealistic perception,” she explains. “Part of being human is to not know things, to make blunders and to be flawed. We all have joy and anger, shadow and light, messiness and togetherness.”
It’s this sense of being content with who we are that can help us in all areas of our life. “The problem with hiding from our vulnerabilities is that we aren’t being our true selves and we aren’t allowing others to see the whole of us. This means we are forever feeling trapped in a certain persona,” Nicky explains. “When we know we are worthy, we are able to be less protective and defensive, and we can access a greater capacity for love, compassion and patience. It is only through our vulnerabilities that true intimacy can occur,” she adds. “It’s through letting our guard down that we realise we are not all that different. Underneath the colour of our skin, the language we speak and the worlds we live in, we all have the same fears, struggles and dreams.” It’s also through allowing ourselves to be vulnerable that we can accept help in our life, to learn and grow more fully. “It’s by embracing our weaknesses that we become open to learning and are able to listen without judgement. We grow and invest in ourselves and others, and strengthen our relationships,” Dave says. But how can we start doing this?
Keen to see how embracing your weaknesses can become one of your strengths? Try these tips from our experts…
Feel more content with who you are and connect more fully with people.
Do it by: Slowing down, breathing deeply and meditating. “When we slow right down and breathe deeply, we begin to feel what’s there and experience what moves through us,” she explains. “That is where you will meet your vulnerability. Stay in that moment and become accustomed to feeling comfortable with the uncomfortable for a little while.”
“The importance and usefulness of this cannot be overstated,” says Dave. “It’s a huge part of embracing vulnerability and trying to show we are strong to others. Through questioning and using our gift to be curious about our vulnerabilities, it will allow us to grow and become better.”
Do it by: Spending some time writing down your thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself how you feel your weaknesses impact your life and how you could consider letting your guard down for the future.
Despite what social media would have us believe, we all have weaknesses and signs of vulnerability. “Remember that every person on the planet has a vulnerability and this is normal,” advises Dave.
Do it by: Talking to others and being open about your areas of weakness. This could be through a conversation with a friend or family member, your manager at work or with a counsellor or wellness expert.
“Sharing your feelings is such a powerful tool that literally everyone can do,” Nicky explains. “When we share and feel listened to, it takes shame away and it allows us to feel seen.”
Do it by: Taking small steps. Dave recommends choosing someone you trust implicitly to talk to, and beginning by sharing something about your weaknesses that you feel comfortable doing so. Have a think about what that is.
We’re all guilty of worrying about how people view us, but as Nicky explains, part of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and learning and growing as an individual is about showing ourselves in our entirety.
Do it by: Releasing control. “We cannot accept our vulnerability while also trying to control how others think or behave,” Nicky explains. “We have to choose. And so it takes a choice to truly start putting ourselves first.”
We are all complex beings and every individual is shaped by all sorts of personality traits and life experiences – both good and bad. Being at peace with that knowledge is key to true happiness, says Nicky. “To be comfortable showing both our vulnerabilities and our strengths is a sign of self-worth,” she says. “We have to be the ones to love ourselves, to honour ourselves and to know that we are enough.”
Do it by: Writing down all your different qualities – positive and negative. “Once you’ve listed them, read them out one by one, leaving a pause between each one to let yourself receive it,” Nicky recommends. “If you do this regularly you will start to see yourself slightly differently. Suddenly these things you thought you had to hide and tidy up become parts of what make you who you are.”
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