Most of the world has conditional love for you. “Be this way and then I’ll accept you”
“Dress like this”
Society wants us to live up to its expectations. It wants the perfect version of you and will accept nothing but the best… and that’s a lot of pressure.
But the truth is that real love is unconditional. True love accepts you fully.
In order to find and receive that unconditional love in ourselves and in connection with others we need to learn to let our walls down.
But even if we want to be vulnerable and let our walls down, it can still be extremely difficult to actually do so.
You’re Protecting Your Inner Child
All of these societal expectations and “conditions” put your emotional walls up. You lock up your true self away from the world to protect your inner child.
Each of us has an inner child and an inner parent. Most people’s inner parents are very critical and controlling of their inner child, which makes them very unhappy but keeps them emotionally safe.
You see, people can’t truly reject you if you don’t show them the real you. If you put up a façade that’s not really you and they reject you, it’s not as painful because they reject the “fake you”.
Now if you’re genuinely your full self (quirks, awkwardness, and all) there’s the potential for a whole bunch more pain in rejection.
But by hiding away your true self you also take away the potential for receiving real unconditional love from genuine connections.
The inner parent is so fearful of the child inside getting emotionally hurt that they don’t ever let the them out to play, have fun, and make meaningful connections.
You’re Suppressing Part of Your Identity
Everyone has a shadow side. That part of yourself that you suppress and feel would be rejected by the world (often unconsciously).
Maybe you were conditioned to suppress your emotions as a child. Maybe you were told to be more masculine or more feminine. We were all taught how to act from a very young age and what parts of ourselves are good and which are bad.
If you struggle with vulnerability and have a hard time being fully yourself with people you could be unconsciously suppressing part of your identity.
Check out this helpful article on how to accept your shadow side
You Feel Ashamed
Shame is that feeling that we aren’t worthy of connection with others. Those embarrassing and humiliating feelings that accompany shame is what keeps us disconnected.
If you’re ashamed of who you really are, you are most likely going to try to hide that part of yourself (creating your shadow side). You think that if you show that shameful part of yourself you will be rejected.
You Fear Rejection
This connects with the previous points in that you may fear the pain of rejection if you show your true self.
You may be so afraid of the emotional pain of rejection that you’d rather just avoid vulnerability all together. If this is the case then you most likely wear a fake mask around to protect yourself from that pain.
The problem with wearing a mask is that people will end up connecting with the fake part of you. If you always where a mask people will get used to the mask.
dropping that mask is crucial to finding people who really appreciate you for YOU.
How To Be More Vulnerable
1. Nurture Self-Love
The first step in letting the walls down is nurturing the relationship with yourself.
How can you expect others to accept you if you can’t give that acceptance to yourself first. By fostering a loving internal environment you subconsciously invite others to do the same.
This is why people who are comfortable in their own skin are so nice to be around. They emanate acceptance and love because they themselves are filled with it inside.
here’s one way we can start to nurture self-love:
Check out my article The Illusion of Self: The Secret to Judging Less and Loving More
2. No More Negative Self-Talk
You’ve got to cut out the negative self-talk. How we think about and talk to ourselves is the main way we bring ourselves up or bring ourselves down.
Negative self talk is a sure fire way to shoot your walls up around others and shut down your vulnerable side.
Try catching yourself when you put yourself down and replace that thought with a positive affirmation.
Instead of thinking “I looked totally weird asking that question” replace that thought with “It’s okay to ask silly questions sometimes”.
Trying observing your thoughts throughout the day and write down how you tend to talk to yourself. This exercise is great for realizing how much your thoughts impact your mood and self esteem.
3. Practice Vulnerability In Your Relationships
To foster your vulnerability you have to practice showing your vulnerable side. Now I know this isn’t easy, but that’s why you’ll start your practice with your closest relationships.
Practicing being open and vulnerable with your closest relationships (like best friends and family) is the safest place where you can practice letting the walls down.
Before opening up with just anyone in the real world, you can try being yourself where it feels safer.
And if you’re the opposite and feel more comfortable practicing vulnerability with strangers, that’s okay too!
The important thing is that you’re practicing being seen for who you really are inside.
You’ll be surprised how accepting people really are when you let your walls down.
Sink Into Who You Are
Vulnerability is not something that comes easy to most people. We want to protect ourselves from emotional pain.
Vulnerability is the practice of being brave and letting your walls down more often. Even if that means the occasional rejection, it also means more meaningful connection.
Talk nicely to yourself through this process. Give yourself the grace of making mistakes and forgive yourself when you catch yourself putting your walls up.
All you ever need to be is yourself. You are perfectly valuable and lovable exactly as you are. So let people see the real you! Be brave.