Maybe you are one of the many, suffering from “emotional vulnerability” (EV). The anxiety about being rejected, shamed, or judged as inadequate. it’s a tough way to feel, and being in groups is just torture for some.
Talk about a party pooper!
The fear of vulnerability includes relationships, the workplace, friendships, our connections with others as a whole, and so on. It’s huge, and it affects all character types.
Our cultures, upbringing, and our personal stories influence how it hits us. It’s different in each person. But what we all have in common is that even the smallest portion of it harms us deeply.
My example today focuses on a narrowed hybrid, so to speak. And I call them, “Givers who don’t give.” Indeed, it’s ironic.
I can hear it now: hybrid? Well, humans are complicated and in our modern age we are metamorphizing into more and more complexities.
Humor me and read along. Let me know if hybrid makes sense at the end of the article. But remember, I was one of the hybrids, so have mercy!
Perhaps you’re one of those people who give continually. You lend a hand to strangers. Pick up garbage that others leave behind. You’re ready to listen when friends need an ear, and you’re always serving others.
So, you’re a great person, you’re successful, and people like you. You’re a hybrid of emotional vulnerability not effected by all typical drawbacks from it. Like being in groups, being a leader at work, having relationships, you manage the discomforts. You’re in.
You make others feel good.
Heck, you’re the neighborhood hero who takes care of everyone. You look great, dress great, and appear popular in your ability you wield an educated voice to anyone anywhere when needed. But that’s the secret twist, you wait to be needed, talking when it’s safe and about topics, others want to hear. So, you’re similar to the regular EV, but you can manage to appear different because somehow you not fully controlled.
Perhaps you’re like me baking bread for friends, family, and neighbors, or crafting very special things for very special people. You’ve done it all in the GIVING area. Success. But you feel alone. You’re stuck in a lifestyle you truly don’t belong in.
I remember when the question of “giving” came up in my life. I was missing a life of excitement, peace of mind, rest for god sake from overthinking how not to offend someone or look stupid.
It was one night a few years ago when 52 Secrets was a new idea. Back then, it was called “Our Journal Planner”, for my 11-year-old’s ears, but secretly I called it:
“Fuck This Life I’m Finding a New Way.”
But when I journaled on the subject of “giving”, I wasn’t ready to admit what I’d discovered journaling that night. New life or not, no way. I’d done it all wrong, and I was not going to advertise this SECRET! I was emotionally vulnerable and who gave a crap? So, I thought!
When I realized the damage I’d caused myself, it didn’t take long to heal this wound or initially force the truth out. But it still felt like shit and took effort. At what time in our lives do we want discover “we are messed up.” That, we are not that shiny or brilliant in our decision making. Hit me with your best shot felt like a triple hit that night!
Anyway, I woke that night at 3’oclock in the morning, I had become used to waking up in the night, as a single mom I was afraid of noises and what time it might be, did I oversleep or perhaps I just couldn’t sleep. This particular morning, I sat up in bed and stared at the darkness asking myself why I was such a giver, so involved in life, well-liked, yet I felt alone. I reached for my journal and began asking myself a set of questions. The “why do you feel this,” type of questioning. And quickly, I narrowed it to one great question: “What do I want the most right now?”
“I know what you’re thinking. What questions does one ask to nail the right question? I’ll go over that in another post. In its simplicity, it’s still complicated. Our minds tilt the intensity of fear against us, and we have to fight back with knowledge.
My answer was, “Real Friends.” But to have real friends I had to be one! Shit, that meant giving myself. My truth. Be vulnerable. I had to cease with the insulative brush offs. The run, duck, and hide the real me in the closet had to stop. I could no long use the, “I won’t bother my friends with my problems” type of emotional block.
I was denying my friends their right to be my friend. I cut them off in a slam of my door.
In my situation, as the hybrid, I was not emotionally vulnerable in my earlier life as many are from an early age. I developed my version after my son was 7-years-old. Just one reason why it snuck up on me like a train wreck?
Now, I’ll have to fill you in. Two years prior to my son turning 7, we had relocated from another country. My then-husband and I arrived in NY intending to remain 2-3 years and return thereafter. It was our sort of sabbatical from a busy stressful life overseas. Long story short, our return was delayed and it marked a change in me. I withdrew. There was indeed a good list of friends I’d made, but no one knew me. Therefore, it was easy to hide and pretend allowing several more years to pass before I put an end to my own bull shit of hiding from the truth.
Yes, I’m hard on myself, but I knew better. Not everyone does. And I’m the type that needs and wants the truth shoved in my face. “Wake up Efrona!” Pampering me doesn’t work. I wanted one big giant step out of my hell. But, it’s okay to take small steps, I tell all my client to follow their instincts: small or big. What matters is to find results. If you are like me, trust me, you’ve only forgotten how valuable you are. And I guarantee you, it’s worth thinking over.
We all know when something is wrong. Our inner self rings the bells. Stress pounds on our heads. Happiness is dulled and our heart changes its devotions.
Needless to say, the blueprint of my early life prodded my intuitions. That I remember, but it did not send me an email saying,
“Warning, there is a leak in your emotions! Abort!”
I so much as lived by the earlier version of what had once been and continued to hide from a life that had begun to hurt. In that hiding, I felt abused but as the years progressed, even worse, I began feeling I deserved my pain when I did not.
If you are a person like me who gave to the world around her but never gave herself to that same world. Let me tell you what happens when you do give yourself.
It changes the weather of your life, no more storms in your head. Giving in general remains constant and peaceful as it always was. The reality is, that not all, but most people you gave to didn’t know you, so little changes there.
The big win is: You like you. You feel free. You are not controlled any longer. And being yourself draws that great friend to you.
“You become someone’s person!
That’s a lotto win in itself! YOU’RE A REAL PERSON OF VALUE. Just like everyone else. You’re in the club. A club you felt locked out of.
When I compare my life then and now, it’s like a balloon ride versus being buried alive. Being vulnerable is the real way to live. It’s exciting and generates true life around you. Yes, there are risks, but that’s the case every time we step out the door?
Being vulnerable is a whole other world. It means you try, give all, are trusted and honest. I’m the type that will tell a total stranger in the Nordstrom’s dressing room that she needs to find another dress or the one she has is amazing. Yes, I offend some, even my friends now and then.
Living life to the fullest means having the greatest measure of courage to be yourself. And the risk of getting hurt by others becomes small when your sailing on the happy ship feeling great about who you are.
I can tell you first-hand that being vulnerable means having uncalculated expectations. It’s a win-win.
I’m not saying life is perfect for those who embrace vulnerability, we all make mistakes and suffer for it. I’ve been called many things in my vulnerability, and yes, I’ve been taken advantage of at times. But I will never give up being vulnerable again.
Let me fall in love and give one-hundred percent, let me share my weaknesses and mistakes and not care what others think, let me look ridiculous on the dance floor, and laugh at superstitions, let me say when I’m not comfortable, let me say the wrong things, let me believe in the world and people, let me, let me, for most of the time I win when I’m me. Myself.
Does this ring a bell?
You fear new relationships.
Admitting you want a close friend is scary. You feel you’re the oddball out. The one that isn’t good enough. I personally at this time didn’t feel like a woman, a mother, a person. I was just good at everything I did, so it was easy to draw people to me. At least that was the logic I used to justify why others wanted to be around me.
You hold back your insights and expertise.
In conversations do you find yourself hold back your insights? Even when your expertise is valid, it’s difficult to disagree with others or present your thoughts. Worries about how others will judge your ideas versus theirs, prevent you from risking.
You feel shame to reveal your problems.
You don’t open up easily.
It’s like nature to you: avoiding your deep feelings! You’re with friends and they are talking freely, you have lots of great advice but you do not share. (I’ve helped people over the years conquer emotional vulnerability issues without anyone suspecting I was clearly suffering it myself. Hell, I wasn’t sure. It’s not that hard to hide or ignore when you’re sustaining your worth off the euphoria of general giving.)
You are there for others, but…
You’re a good shoulder to cry on, but you haven’t cried on anyone’s shoulder because you do not wish to burden anyone with your problems.
Anxiety at work.
Coworkers ask how your day was and you speak of feeling overwhelmed.
You apologize too much and you ask your friends if you fail them.
You know the, “I’m sorry I didn’t do this and that”. But they are curious responding with, “What? You are great!” But, you don’t believe them.
Your loved ones have control over you.
Because you’re constantly worried over what others think of you, you give loved one’s control. Your feelings mimic theirs; if they are sad you are, if they are happy so are you. Why? Because you give little regard for your own feelings when surrounded by others.
Again, you question why people like you.
You’re questioning the authenticity of friendships. Do they like me? It’s clear that they do, but doubt always creeps in. If someone doesn’t text you back or doesn’t respond right away, you feel responsible, it’s a reflection on you.
You’re moody and might not know why.
Your mood can quickly change at any point in time taking a 360 turn at the slightest provocation. You can be viewed as volatile by others.
Here are some solutions to change your stars and be vulnerable!
It’s like a game of chess. If you are afraid to play you will never grow, if you play and fear to move, you’ll not enjoy. If you’re terrible at chess then think of another game and imagine the same scenario. A life that doesn’t move doesn’t live.
Know that you are not weird!
We all have idiosyncrasies and weaknesses.
Your perception that EV is harming you and others can see it, is correct. Even strangers. But don’t beat yourself up. Each and every one of us has a weakness, a vulnerable spot. So, educate yourself and be rest assured: you are okay regardless that it would be to your advantage to change.
We all have strengths that show regardless of our downfalls. It’s similar to being on stage, the audience usually doesn’t see or hear the mistakes the performer hears. The audience sees the bigger picture of talent. Friends are the same, hell, strangers are as well. Embrace fear and others will embrace it with you.
You can be a rock star soon enough feeling like you’re on top of the world. Freedom from fear is not a privilege handed out to the few, it’s offered to everyone who wants to take it. It’s a habit that can be changed. (I will post a lot in the future on changing habits. It’s key!)
Know that you might always have a weakness for emotional vulnerability.
But, so what, the secret is not to allow emotions to boss you around. Behaviors can be changed, emotions are not that easy to manipulate, but they can be controlled, so cheers!
Let friends know you struggle.
ASK FOR HELP
True friends and intelligent people are more insightful than you might know at this point. I opened up and spoke to my close friends. Explained what I was going through and to my surprise they already suspected. Of course, any true friend would see something. When I asked for support they were there.
The bonus I received was a closer relationship that felt amazing. I saw the difference in them as well, the respect and bonds grew. I felt normal, which as basic as that may be, was stupendous! How lucky we are that people care regardless of our imperfections. I’m now grateful for these friends whom I still have and hold dear to my heart.
Let friends in.
Let others do things for you.
A friend offers to come over when you’re sick. Don’t say no.
A neighbor offers to mow your lawn when you’re in need. Don’t say no.
But go slowly. Know that talking to the wrong people can lead to unintended difficulties. Unknowingly, others will transfer their pity or disgust for something they don’t understand. You know who your friends are usually. Start there.
When others ask how you are, tell the truth.
Honesty is a big part of challenging vulnerability. Take small steps. Hiding our feelings is a comfort zone. And we need to take the wall down one brick at a time.
Be honest with yourself.
Journaling is a super way of discovering you.
Talk to yourself as if you’re an outsider. Be accountable and catch yourself. You are your best expert.
Ask yourself questions about your core self:
- Why do you allow yourself to be controlled? And who else if effected by it?
- What good comes from it?
- Talk to seniors, they have sage-advice. Ask them questions and inevitably they will say, “be vulnerable and let the world know who you are!”
- What difference will it make in my life if I change?
- When I look into the future and see myself standing there in my life, what do I want to see?
- Do I want to write my own story and improve my life?
- Do I like where I am? And why not or why yes?
- Can I do this alone? If not seek help. The most powerful people in the world have a crew helping them in every area of their lives. Why do you think they are successful? They get help.
- Does knowing about this problem make it go away?
- Does worrying all the time make worrying better?
Be devoted to yourself and your potential.
Understand that your life is full of awe. But it will not send you an email. You must go get it yourself. Form a better understanding of who you are and reasons to revere your worth will take form. Open the door! Live life to its fullest. This is, “How To Love Your Life”