Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in communication might increase misunderstandings.
Our worries can emotionally hijack our brains. They can entirely consume our thoughts in an endless vacuum of fear.
Opening yourself up, exposing who you are and what you need can be scary in our society. We were raised to be quiet; to not be too loud or crazy. We are expected to not draw attention to ourselves, to act like everyone else.
For me, that required stuffing our feelings deep down inside and plastering a mask on our face that says to the world, “I’m really happy.” Underneath that stuffing, the plaster is hardened to protect the world from seeing the frustration, confusion, and feelings of neglect.
The other day I was asked, “should I bring up every issue from my past relationships right away?” For some of us, this is only a trashcan full of baggage. For others, it’s a landfill of anxiety the size of Texas.
If you’re like the latter, this would mean expressing every single worry and doubt that crosses your mind. She just laughed at that guy’s joke. Is he funnier than me? In your mind, this forms day-mares of her running into this jokester’s arms and falling in love with him. You left behind.
Realistically, this is very unlikely. Your fear is a result of your distorted perception of your own value, and your self-esteem. If you have low self-esteem, you may see a relationship as a fragile thing- like a vase teetering on the edge of a table.
The more you suppress your concern and the more you allow your theories to nab your thoughts, the more your worries and fear will bottle up. One day, one of these worries will become unmanageable – like a Mento falling into your coke bottle of carbonated emotions.
Eventually, all that suppression is going to explode with such intensity that they won’t be able to even see where this came from. Your emotional explosion does not match the natural emotional response for such a problem.
This ridiculous reaction causes your partner to think you’re crazy. It’s impossible for them to know about all of your bottled up frustrations that lead to this point.
The solution to spewing a liter of emotions on your partner over a can-sized issue is to express your emotions the moment that they happen. Typically, if you expose things that are bothering you the moment they start and receive a positive response, your worries do not get worse.
When problems arise in any kind of relationship, it is a result of clashing emotional blueprints of expectations within the relationship. There is not a single person that sees the world the same way that you do.
The secret to understanding each other better seems to come not through an increased ability to read body language or improved perspective taking, but rather, through the hard relational work of putting people in a position where they can tell you their minds openly and honestly.1
The way to get your needs met and deepen understanding and the quality of your relationships is through this very scary thing called vulnerability. It’s the willingness to open oneself and expose your true intentions, fears and desires.
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. – Brene Brown
6 Commandments of Vulnerable Communication:
1. You come first
If you’ve ever taken an airplane, you’ve heard the flight attendant telling you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others.
Despite most of us ignoring the procedure details, it is a matter of life or death. If you choose to help someone else before you help yourself at that altitude, you will most likely pass out and die since the air has such little oxygen. Not only will you pass out and die, but so will the person you are trying to help.
This lesson doesn’t just apply in the air; you must care about yourself before you care about others. If you end up hurting yourself by suppression, you hurt your partner by deeming them incapable of truly making you happy and helping you get your needs met. As a result, you get hurt even more, and you neglect their needs in the process.