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How Being Vulnerable Leads to a Healthy and Fulfilling Relationship

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How Being Vulnerable Leads to a Healthy and Fulfilling Relationship

What does it mean to be vulnerable in a relationship?

If you look up the word vulnerability in the dictionary, the results don’t look all that promising. You’ll end up seeing expressions like, “capable of being wounded or hurt” or “Susceptible to attacks.”

We can all agree that nobody in their right mind wants to be hurt or feel weak, especially not in front of someone they love.

The good news is, being vulnerable in front of your partner isn’t a weakness at all — it’s actually something that will strengthen your romantic relationship.

To be vulnerable with a partner means showing them your true self, including your fears, dreams, and emotions. However, not everyone is comfortable showing vulnerability in relationships — that’s why we’re here to help!

Keep reading to find out how being vulnerable will help your relationship and 6 ways to make it happen.

Why Is It Important to Show Vulnerability in Relationships?

Being completely open and honest with your spouse or partner can be a little scary at first.

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After all, you want your partners to see the best in you. You don’t want them to know what keeps you up at night or point out your insecurities. However, there are many benefits to being vulnerable with your significant other.

Here are some of the ways that vulnerability in relationships can help strengthen them.

Humanize Yourself

When we are in a relationship with someone, we want them to see the best in us. We want to seem absolutely perfect. Perfection is great when you’re filling out a job application, but not when you’re trying to connect with a romantic partner.

Perfection is boring, unattainable, and may just leave your partner feeling bad about themselves. On the other hand, the more vulnerable you are, the more relatable and “human” you become to your partner.

Boost Partner Intimacy

Intimacy is both a sexual and emotional bond you share with your partner, and you cannot have satisfying intimacy without vulnerability in the mix. Showing your vulnerable side to your spouse means giving yourself to them wholeheartedly.

Strengthen Empathy

It’s easy to have empathy for someone’s thoughts, feelings, and problems when you know who they are deep down. The more willing partners are to share vulnerable moments, the stronger their empathy will be for one another.

Embrace Your True Self

As you open up and connect with your spouse or partner, you start to build trust in one another. Your significant other knows you’ll always be honest with them, and you know that your partner will never judge your thoughts or feelings, which can help you begin to let go of some of your self-judgment.

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Open up to True Love

As cheesy as it might sound, it’s true! The walls you’ve built up in your heart were put there to protect you from getting hurt, but they are also preventing you from fully loving and committing to someone new.

How to Show Vulnerability in Relationships

For some, showing vulnerability in relationships is awkward, emotional, and sometimes downright uncomfortable. So, how do you do it?[1] Here are some simple tips to help you learn how to open up and share your inner self.

1. Take Baby Steps

You can’t learn to run until you learn to walk. Being vulnerable with your spouse doesn’t mean you have to share your every insecurity right off the bat. Start small by opening up about little things.

The longer you practice opening up about the little things, the easier it will be to start sharing bigger parts of your life with your partner.

2. Be Open About Your Struggles

If you’re someone who doesn’t naturally share their feelings, be honest about it!

Let your partner know that you struggle with vulnerability and reassure them that your feelings on the matter have nothing to do with who they are as a person.

Tell them this is something that you’re working on and ask for their patience as you go through this journey together.

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3. Get to the Root of Your Discomfort

If you’re not crazy about opening up with your spouse or partner, it can be helpful to ask yourself why. If you love and trust your partner, why wouldn’t you want to take your relationship to the next level?

It could be that you’ve been burned in the past by a friend, romantic partner, or family member, and now you’re reluctant to trust someone new with your heart.

Whatever the case, getting to the bottom of your refusal to share can help you work through past problems.

4. Be Honest

We’re often so caught in what we think our partner wants us to be, especially at the beginning of a new relationship, that we sometimes forget that the person we are deep down is pretty awesome, too.

Practice being honest with your significant other. When they ask for your opinion, give it. Don’t tip-toe around the question or give the answer you think they want to hear. Be uniquely you.

5. Ask for Help

If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask your partner to lend a hand/a listening ear/whatever you need at that moment.

The more willing you are to ask for help, the easier it will be to express your worries, insecurities, etc. with your spouse. In turn, you will learn how to communicate and build emotional security.

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If you’re not sure how to go about asking for help, this article may be able to help.

6. Practice Self-Love

The more you love yourself, the easier it will be to open up to other people about who you are. You have to be able to look in the mirror and say, “I’m not perfect, and that’s okay!”

This isn’t an overnight journey by any means, but loving your good qualities and being okay with the ones that still need work will help you feel comfortable sharing your truths with the one you love.

The Bottom Line

The thought of being vulnerable in relationships may make you queasy at first, but the more you do it, the more natural it will feel. Strengthen your relationship, build trust, and establish empathy by showing your partner your real thoughts and feelings.

More Tips on Vulnerability

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Sylvia Smith

Sylvia is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt its principles in their relationships.

How To Resolve Relationship Conflicts without Hurting Each Other How to Leave a Toxic Relationship When You Still Love Your Partner How to Overcome Jealousy in a Relationship How to Stop Nagging And Communicate With Your Partner Better 6 Reasons Why You Should Not Give Up on Love

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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