Insecurity and Vulnerability: Opportunities for Growth

Reviewed Aug 9, 2017

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Summary

  • Embrace all emotions.
  • Live with imperfection.
  • Practice gratitude.

Everyone feels unsure and vulnerable at times. At first thought, these emotions are viewed as weaknesses. Yet, research shows that there is a chance for growth when a person faces his insecurities and vulnerabilities. 

Signs of insecurity

A person who is insecure lacks faith in her own value and skills. She also lacks trust in herself and sometimes in others. Signs of insecurity include:

  • Doubting abilities
  • Living in fear of making a mistake or of failure
  • Trying to keep everyone happy or to get their approval
  • Being passive—not speaking up
  • Being forceful—bullying or manipulating to try to control other people
  • “Steamrolling” others—not listening or being willing to compromise
  • Being indecisive
  • Second-guessing yourself
  • Procrastinating
  • Letting others make choices and then complaining
  • Having trouble making eye contact, slumping, fidgeting
  • Collecting belongings or achievements to prove your worth
  • Bragging or talking too much about yourself
  • Comparing yourself to others and always feeling you fall short

To face insecurities, a person must be brave and willing to be vulnerable.

Understanding vulnerability

“Vulnerability is not weakness. It is the most accurate measure of courage,” says Brené Brown, researcher and author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. She defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

Vulnerability is often linked to dark emotions such as fear, shame, grief, sadness and disappointment. The truth is vulnerability is at the core of all emotions. To feel is to be vulnerable. Willingness to face vulnerability makes possible the deep feelings:

  • Love
  • Belonging
  • Empathy
  • Accountability
  • Authenticity
  • Creativity
  • Change

Avoiding harmful emotions

The wish to avoid feeling dark emotions is understandable. People often withdraw and try to numb harmful feelings with things like drugs, gambling, shopping, working, or eating. While these behaviors can cause a disconnect from harmful feelings, these “quick fixes” can lead to emotional and physical health issues and addiction. Overuse can result in weight gain, drug misuse, debt, and divorce.
 
Another less clear result is disconnection from good emotions too. Numbing of emotions is not selective: When emotions such as worry, fear and grief are numbed, a split also happens from good emotions such as joy, gratitude and happiness. A person can be left feeling sad, lonely and empty. Embracing all emotions, without withdrawing or self-medicating, lets a person live more fully—“wholeheartedly.”

“Wholehearted” living

Brown says wholehearted people embrace vulnerability and believe that it is not comfortable but basic and necessary. People who are wholehearted have a strong sense of love and belonging, and believe they are worthy. Wholehearted people have:

  • Courage to not be perfect, to feel their feelings, and to be “seen”
  • Compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others
  • Connection by letting go of who they think they should be and being who they are

How to become more wholehearted

  1. Embrace all emotions, even the “messy” ones. Do a personal check. Ask yourself: “Am I avoiding emotions by eating too much, staying too busy, shopping, drinking or using drugs?” Being able to notice feelings and talk about them with a trusted friend or counselor can bring comfort from worry, fears and disappointment, among others.
  2. Live with imperfection. Know that mistakes, suffering and failure are part of a shared human experience. Change any harmful self-talk to that of a good coach. Name things to make better and set realistic goals for change.
  3. Put yourself out there. Love with your whole heart, even if there are no promises. Share your ideas. Speak up for what you believe. Be there for someone else. Listen, be real and empathize.
  4. Practice gratitude. Happiness is tied to circumstances while true joy comes from practicing gratitude. A person can find joy in normal moments of routine life. Count blessings each day—thought of in your mind, spoken to a loved one or friend or written in a journal—any method works.

Embracing emotions, facing shortcomings, living without guarantees, and having an attitude of gratitude can lead to growth. It can also lead to a life with deeper meaning, connection, and joy.

By Kris Hooks, MEd, LPC, LMFT, CEAP
Source: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown. Penguin Group, 2012.

Summary

  • Embrace all emotions.
  • Live with imperfection.
  • Practice gratitude.

Everyone feels unsure and vulnerable at times. At first thought, these emotions are viewed as weaknesses. Yet, research shows that there is a chance for growth when a person faces his insecurities and vulnerabilities. 

Signs of insecurity

A person who is insecure lacks faith in her own value and skills. She also lacks trust in herself and sometimes in others. Signs of insecurity include:

  • Doubting abilities
  • Living in fear of making a mistake or of failure
  • Trying to keep everyone happy or to get their approval
  • Being passive—not speaking up
  • Being forceful—bullying or manipulating to try to control other people
  • “Steamrolling” others—not listening or being willing to compromise
  • Being indecisive
  • Second-guessing yourself
  • Procrastinating
  • Letting others make choices and then complaining
  • Having trouble making eye contact, slumping, fidgeting
  • Collecting belongings or achievements to prove your worth
  • Bragging or talking too much about yourself
  • Comparing yourself to others and always feeling you fall short

To face insecurities, a person must be brave and willing to be vulnerable.

Understanding vulnerability

“Vulnerability is not weakness. It is the most accurate measure of courage,” says Brené Brown, researcher and author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. She defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

Vulnerability is often linked to dark emotions such as fear, shame, grief, sadness and disappointment. The truth is vulnerability is at the core of all emotions. To feel is to be vulnerable. Willingness to face vulnerability makes possible the deep feelings:

  • Love
  • Belonging
  • Empathy
  • Accountability
  • Authenticity
  • Creativity
  • Change

Avoiding harmful emotions

The wish to avoid feeling dark emotions is understandable. People often withdraw and try to numb harmful feelings with things like drugs, gambling, shopping, working, or eating. While these behaviors can cause a disconnect from harmful feelings, these “quick fixes” can lead to emotional and physical health issues and addiction. Overuse can result in weight gain, drug misuse, debt, and divorce.
 
Another less clear result is disconnection from good emotions too. Numbing of emotions is not selective: When emotions such as worry, fear and grief are numbed, a split also happens from good emotions such as joy, gratitude and happiness. A person can be left feeling sad, lonely and empty. Embracing all emotions, without withdrawing or self-medicating, lets a person live more fully—“wholeheartedly.”

“Wholehearted” living

Brown says wholehearted people embrace vulnerability and believe that it is not comfortable but basic and necessary. People who are wholehearted have a strong sense of love and belonging, and believe they are worthy. Wholehearted people have:

  • Courage to not be perfect, to feel their feelings, and to be “seen”
  • Compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others
  • Connection by letting go of who they think they should be and being who they are

How to become more wholehearted

  1. Embrace all emotions, even the “messy” ones. Do a personal check. Ask yourself: “Am I avoiding emotions by eating too much, staying too busy, shopping, drinking or using drugs?” Being able to notice feelings and talk about them with a trusted friend or counselor can bring comfort from worry, fears and disappointment, among others.
  2. Live with imperfection. Know that mistakes, suffering and failure are part of a shared human experience. Change any harmful self-talk to that of a good coach. Name things to make better and set realistic goals for change.
  3. Put yourself out there. Love with your whole heart, even if there are no promises. Share your ideas. Speak up for what you believe. Be there for someone else. Listen, be real and empathize.
  4. Practice gratitude. Happiness is tied to circumstances while true joy comes from practicing gratitude. A person can find joy in normal moments of routine life. Count blessings each day—thought of in your mind, spoken to a loved one or friend or written in a journal—any method works.

Embracing emotions, facing shortcomings, living without guarantees, and having an attitude of gratitude can lead to growth. It can also lead to a life with deeper meaning, connection, and joy.

By Kris Hooks, MEd, LPC, LMFT, CEAP
Source: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown. Penguin Group, 2012.

Summary

  • Embrace all emotions.
  • Live with imperfection.
  • Practice gratitude.

Everyone feels unsure and vulnerable at times. At first thought, these emotions are viewed as weaknesses. Yet, research shows that there is a chance for growth when a person faces his insecurities and vulnerabilities. 

Signs of insecurity

A person who is insecure lacks faith in her own value and skills. She also lacks trust in herself and sometimes in others. Signs of insecurity include:

  • Doubting abilities
  • Living in fear of making a mistake or of failure
  • Trying to keep everyone happy or to get their approval
  • Being passive—not speaking up
  • Being forceful—bullying or manipulating to try to control other people
  • “Steamrolling” others—not listening or being willing to compromise
  • Being indecisive
  • Second-guessing yourself
  • Procrastinating
  • Letting others make choices and then complaining
  • Having trouble making eye contact, slumping, fidgeting
  • Collecting belongings or achievements to prove your worth
  • Bragging or talking too much about yourself
  • Comparing yourself to others and always feeling you fall short

To face insecurities, a person must be brave and willing to be vulnerable.

Understanding vulnerability

“Vulnerability is not weakness. It is the most accurate measure of courage,” says Brené Brown, researcher and author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. She defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

Vulnerability is often linked to dark emotions such as fear, shame, grief, sadness and disappointment. The truth is vulnerability is at the core of all emotions. To feel is to be vulnerable. Willingness to face vulnerability makes possible the deep feelings:

  • Love
  • Belonging
  • Empathy
  • Accountability
  • Authenticity
  • Creativity
  • Change

Avoiding harmful emotions

The wish to avoid feeling dark emotions is understandable. People often withdraw and try to numb harmful feelings with things like drugs, gambling, shopping, working, or eating. While these behaviors can cause a disconnect from harmful feelings, these “quick fixes” can lead to emotional and physical health issues and addiction. Overuse can result in weight gain, drug misuse, debt, and divorce.
 
Another less clear result is disconnection from good emotions too. Numbing of emotions is not selective: When emotions such as worry, fear and grief are numbed, a split also happens from good emotions such as joy, gratitude and happiness. A person can be left feeling sad, lonely and empty. Embracing all emotions, without withdrawing or self-medicating, lets a person live more fully—“wholeheartedly.”

“Wholehearted” living

Brown says wholehearted people embrace vulnerability and believe that it is not comfortable but basic and necessary. People who are wholehearted have a strong sense of love and belonging, and believe they are worthy. Wholehearted people have:

  • Courage to not be perfect, to feel their feelings, and to be “seen”
  • Compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others
  • Connection by letting go of who they think they should be and being who they are

How to become more wholehearted

  1. Embrace all emotions, even the “messy” ones. Do a personal check. Ask yourself: “Am I avoiding emotions by eating too much, staying too busy, shopping, drinking or using drugs?” Being able to notice feelings and talk about them with a trusted friend or counselor can bring comfort from worry, fears and disappointment, among others.
  2. Live with imperfection. Know that mistakes, suffering and failure are part of a shared human experience. Change any harmful self-talk to that of a good coach. Name things to make better and set realistic goals for change.
  3. Put yourself out there. Love with your whole heart, even if there are no promises. Share your ideas. Speak up for what you believe. Be there for someone else. Listen, be real and empathize.
  4. Practice gratitude. Happiness is tied to circumstances while true joy comes from practicing gratitude. A person can find joy in normal moments of routine life. Count blessings each day—thought of in your mind, spoken to a loved one or friend or written in a journal—any method works.

Embracing emotions, facing shortcomings, living without guarantees, and having an attitude of gratitude can lead to growth. It can also lead to a life with deeper meaning, connection, and joy.

By Kris Hooks, MEd, LPC, LMFT, CEAP
Source: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown. Penguin Group, 2012.

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