“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” — Brené Brown
Anyone who has ever committed any serious time and energy to developing their yoga practice, maintaining a meditation habit, or contemplating their sense of self through lots of inward reflection work knows that vulnerability isn’t just a negative side effect of life that should be avoided at all costs — it’s experienced by everybody, and it’s a must if we want to improve ourselves.
Our minds, however, are programmed to keep us from being vulnerable. Vulnerability means stepping outside of our comfort zones, showing parts of ourselves that we’re not proud of, making mistakes, getting rejected, and experiencing emotional discomfort.
On the other side of vulnerability is growth. The more familiar we become with embracing vulnerability and the more aware of what it leads to, the greater our chances of growing to our fullest potential.
Getting familiar with vulnerability isn’t easy. And it doesn’t mean we should all sign ourselves up for public speaking, skydiving, or something equally as terrifying.
Taking small steps every single day that put our spirits in line with honesty, authenticity, and integrity is what we need to do to get more comfortable with the discomfort of vulnerability. Here 10 easy ways to start doing that, starting today.
1. Roll your mat out at the very front of your yoga class. There’s something just a little bit daring about being the type of yogi who gets to class early to place their mat right front and center. You’ll be directly in front of the yoga teacher and everybody behind you will have to look past you to follow the teacher’s instructions. If you’re the type who dislikes being seen, try this at your next class.
2. Meditate when you feel bad. Meditation is wonderful when you’re feeling good. Trying to mediate while feeling ashamed, guilty, embarrassed, or rejected, however, is excruciating. As hard as it is, though, it gives you the opportunity to sink into those feelings fully and accelerate your growth.
3. Ask for help with something. When you just don’t know what you’re doing, stop trying to be a hero and admit it to yourself. Nobody will ever think less of you for asking for help.
4. Don’t say you’re fine when you’re not. If someone asks you how you are and you’re not feeling fine, be honest about it. This doesn’t mean you have to drag them down with your problems. A reply along the lines of, “‘I’m going through something tough at the moment, but I’ll be okay,” is a good example.
5. Trade white lies for kind honesty. We tend to think that white lies help protect others, but the only thing they really do is disconnect us further from each other. Try telling the truth in the kindest, most compassionate way you know how.
6. Go out without makeup on. If you’re a gal who think she needs to make herself look “presentable,” before heading out somewhere super casual — like the grocery store or a coffee shop — try baring your natural face for once. You may be shocked by how freeing it feels.
7. Take “unflattering” selfies. Selfies tend to trigger maximum self-image manipulation. As an experiment, forget everything you know about great lighting, proper posing, your best angles, and whatever else it is you do to make your selfies look as great as possible to snap a few in your most natural state.
Do any of the above often enough (ideally every day for good progress) and you’ll eventually abolish that uncomfortable sensation you associate with being vulnerable. Sometimes the simplest acts have the power to change us in very big ways.