Live Your Legend | Vulnerability 101: How to Build Rapport with Absolutely Anyone
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Vulnerability 101: How to Build Rapport with Absolutely Anyone

Vulnerability 101: How to Build Rapport with Absolutely Anyone

Be Vulnerable

“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.”

-Raymond Hull

Last week I attended an event called The Founder’s Circle.

Picture 35 founders from around San Francisco all in one place to eat great food, sip great scotch, snack on local dark chocolate and engage in some of the most inspiring chat I’ve had in months, all in the setting of a classic antique shop housed in what felt like a 1920’s barn.

This was a pretty epic event. I talked to two guys back to back who had each founded and sold 4 or 5 companies. They were in their early 30’s. I immediately felt myself thinking about how I could come up with stories to compare to theirs…

Then I noticed something odd. These people were talking as much about failure and challenge as they were about success and accomplishment. Before I knew it, so was I.

Then I remembered how the night started.

As we sat for dinner, the host made a brilliant toast and asked us to turn over our menus to find four questions:

1. When am I not authentic?

2. What challenges me?

3. Where am I playing small in life right now?

4. What has heart and meaning for me?

These were our discussion topics for the night. A room full of people normally required to put off just the right image for employees, investors and onlookers, were given permission to leave all that at the door. And for a night, not have to stack up to anything.

The evening was unbelievably vulnerable. We loved it.

When was the last time you were you?

I mean totally honest with who you are? When did you let it all hang out for anyone to see?

For many it’s been so long it’s become tough to distinguish who we are from who we represent ourselves being. It’s no surprise though. When you ask someone how their business is coming along or how things are at their job, how often do you get a reply like “oh man things are brutal, I think we might have to close the doors?” Instead an inquiry like that is often taken as an invitation to cherry pick the top 5% of what they’re doing.

We hear so much talk of success that we start to feel like that’s all we should be sharing.

The problem is it’s fake.

Nothing goes right for anyone all the time. And anyone representing that it does is full of sh*t. Seriously, we all know the guy who can’t stop talking about his most recent monster deal or sweet new porsche, without ever a mention of challenge or difficulty. How much do you trust that person? How close are you to them? How much time do you want to spend around them?

And social networks are the epitome of it. Sure it’s cool and fun to see all the great things people are up to, but that’s all you see on Facebook, Twitter or most blogs. The wildest country I just visited, the club I went to last night, the business I just launched. It all revolves around promoting your best work.

But by default not all of our work is our best. Some of it is going to suck. You are going to get rejected, you are going to fail, you are going to feel alone. Imagine what would happen if you shared on Facebook, not only the bad-ass raise you just got, but instead the job you are deathly terrified of losing or the call you can hardly wait to get from the doctor. How would people respond? Who of your 2,014 ‘friends’ might reach out and offer a new perspective and unique way to help?

Dinner parties, conversations, social networks, blogs, you name it – these are not venues meant to be exploited for empty self-promotion. They are to connect on a real level – good and bad. The issue is not that we’re sharing all the very best, it’s that we aren’t sharing the rest of what makes up who we actually are. Optimism and honesty are not mutually exclusive.

Without vulnerability there is no connection.

We all have razor sharp B.S. meters. As soon as we sense someone isn’t being genuine, they’re dismissed. Whether you know it or not your subconscious is doing it.

After all, it’s impossible to have a real connection, I’m talking deep and meaningful rapport, without actually knowing who you’re talking to. Sure you may be cordial, find a way to work together or even think you’re friends. But you’ll always be missing something. Something big. The something that makes two people connect as husband and wife or two buddies become lifelong best friends. It’s because at some point they decided to be open. Simple as that.

The world and our experiences within it are all based on genuine personal connection. Without it we miss out on the best parts (and end up being pretty miserable in the process). I challenge you to be more of who you are.

For some real motivation, check out this TED Talk: The Power of Vulnerability, which inspired this post.

Let yourself be seen.

Be human. No one gets it right all the time. No one gets through life totally unharmed. The people you meet want to see you. They want to know you. They don’t only want to know who you are when you’re performing at your top 10%. Sure they want to experience that too, but not at the loss of who you really are. Share your challenges with those around you. The things that terrify you, the hardest parts of life. Watch what happens. For an example, Corbett Barr recently let himself ‘be seen’ in a pretty entertaining post: 33 Things I’ve Never Told You.

People want to help – give them the chance.

My guess is you have one or a few people you genuinely open up to. That’s a good start, but what about everyone else?

People genuinely want to support, help and comfort others. It’s human nature. But they can’t help someone if that person is busy being someone else. If you let more of the world see who you are, who else might end up in your corner? There’s only one way to find out.

Notice how deeply and quickly you connect with almost anyone, even within minutes after meeting, when you open with who you are, your challenges, your fears. Not only will they have your back, but you being you gives others permission to be them. The connection deepens. If that goes on long enough, suddenly the world is operating on a totally new level.

Believe you’re enough – Don’t should all over yourself.

We don’t act ourselves around others because we either want or think we should be someone else. We think we need more money, a better story, a more impactful job, a hotter body.

Well I have some news. You’ll never be anyone else. So stop shoulding all over yourself!

It’s a fine balance – to be excited about working your ass off to get to where you want to be, while staying satisfied with who you are. The only person worthy of comparison is yourself. Everyone else has their own story and their own experience. If we knew at our core that we were enough, we’d never find a reason to represent anything or anyone else. Being yourself comes from knowing yourself.

Be Authentic.

The above questions from last week’s dinner spurred conversations I’d only had with my wife and a few friends prior. It was liberating.

I get scared to death with what I’m doing. I panic that I might blow up what I’ve created. I don’t spend as much time as I’d like around those I love. I get scared of being rejected. I can’t always do all the things I write about (that’s partly why I continue to write them – it’s as much for me as for you!), I get turned down almost weekly. I have days where I can’t get myself to pick up the phone even though making that call is the most important thing on my list.

I have no illusions that I have all the answers, nor that I do everything right. No one does. And that’s fine. As long as you don’t keep it to yourself. The world wants to know who you are. We want to help.

I challenge you to be bold. Be who you are. Embrace vulnerability.

Invest in a relationship without knowing if you’ll get your heart broken

Tell people your greatest fear

Say I love you first

Start a business that might fail

Do something that matters to you, no matter how unlikely the outcome

Share who you really are

Experience what matters

You’re right, all of the toughest emotions in life come from putting yourself out there – fear, loneliness, shame, unworthiness, inadequacy, you name it.

But this same vulnerability is also the only place where you can find true love, connection, creativity, belonging, joy or a life that truly means something.

You can’t have one without the other.

Decide to be open.

Show the world who you really are.

Watch what happens.

What is the last thing you want to share with tends of thousands of people you don’t know? Take your first vulnerable step and mention it in the comments below. Use a fake name if you must. Just get it out. Be human!

—–

Image Courtesy of Helga Weber

81 Comments
  • Joel Zaslofsky
    Posted at 07:39h, 29 June Reply

    I saw Seth Godin in person for a corporate talk on Monday and he was adamant that everyone should have a blog. Although he didn’t have time to elaborate I would hope he might say a primary reason is to release vulnerability into the world to make the community more genuine.

    Inspired by Tyler Tervooren at Advanced Riskology I’m about to share the last thing I thought I would want to admit to, especially publicly. I have a draft of the biggest risk I ever took written up and will be publishing it this week. It oozes vulnerability and hopefully it will encourage others to promote vulnerability as a positive and desirable act. No doubt your article will do a lot more in that goal Scott but I’m trying to do my part too.

    By the way, my vulnerability is my (past) video game addiction. Scary, scary stuff.

    • Scott
      Posted at 09:37h, 01 July Reply

      Congrats on putting your big risk into words and sharing it with the world. I’d be honored if you’d share it with me as well. Awesome you’ve been encouraged by Tyler too. He does great work and knows how take epic calculated risks no doubt.

      I’m an incredibly envious that you saw Seth live btw. I hope I get to be in those shoes soon! His work has encouraged a lot of the way I look at things. His point about a blog is spot on. I was just talking to my family about this last night. The beauty of a blog is it gives you an avenue to explore what lights you on fire. You can fuel it bit by bit through a blog and at the same time expose others to it. The more we can fuel what excites us, in even the smallest way, the bigger chance we give it to grow into something meaningful. Blogs are one of the best tools that exist when it comes to stoking a passion. Then before you know it, you have followers and people who want more and more help from you. Then you have a little business on your hand (if you want) and sky’s the limit.

      Thanks for sharing Joel!

  • Joe @ Not Your Average Joe
    Posted at 07:43h, 29 June Reply

    The other day in the work lunchroom, a couple of female co-workers were talking about their general distrust of men. One of them said, jokingly, that I was included in that group because I just seemed “too good” and that couldn’t be real. I responded by saying that’s not true, and she challenged me to tell her some things that I did wrong.

    I said “I’m like anyone else, I have my flaws. At times, I drink a little too much. And when it’s fueled by alcohol, I can have a problem managing my anger. That’s why I try to stay away from liquor. I’m aware of the flaw, and do what I can to try and fix it”.

    All around the room, the jaws hit the floor. I’m sure they weren’t expecting such a “true confession”. But it felt very natural to say it, and in the end, I don’t think anyone thought any less of me.

    That’s just one “failure”. I’ve got a shitload of them. I’ve thought about writing a post concerning a certain failure, but didn’t want to open up that much. This article may have changed my opinion on that, so thanks for the inspiration, Scott…

    • Scott
      Posted at 09:40h, 01 July Reply

      Way to open a conversation Joe! I bet it felt awesome to be that honest. No doubt your relationship with them is on a different level now. Nicely done.

      btw, when it comes to failure, we all have a shitload of them. You’re not alone 😉

  • Greg F.
    Posted at 03:02h, 30 June Reply

    Even though I’m doing stuff I love, I feel ineffective,
    and I think my peers see me as ineffective. and I don’t like that (the feeling and the perception).
    [I don’t know if this is vulnerable; it just seems whiny.]

    • Scott
      Posted at 09:48h, 01 July Reply

      Feeling ineffective is something very worth paying attention to Greg. The key is to distinguish between you actually feeling ineffective and others thinking you’re ineffective. It’s easy to let others dictate your feeling, but I assure you there’s trouble down that route. The biggest problem is that we will never be able to control what others think of us. It’s a losing battle.

      Try to isolate that feeling with yourself. What about what you’re doing is causing you to feel that way? Specific things in your job? Ways that you’re doing them? Who knows. Give it some real thought.

      Once you’re sorted some of that out then start to question yourself about why others see you as ineffective. Are there any similarities between the two lists? If so, deal with those first. If not, stick to the things you can control that when changed, will make you feel better about the work you’re doing. If you truly are able to uncover what that is and change your actions to cause you to feel effective, that will also be your best chance at changing the perception of others.

      Never try to change others’ perception of you just for the sake of changing it. Always start with yourself.

      Perception is a big topic and one that deserves it’s own post. I plan to write that soon. Thanks for brining it up Greg.

      Have fun with the process!

  • Cori P.
    Posted at 06:59h, 30 June Reply

    I don’t practice what I preach all of the time. I’m struggling to not participate in gossip…in all areas of my life. I want to be a better role model for loved ones who look up to me. I’m not where I should be really.

    I know I can’t be perfect. I just am afraid of losing peoples respect at work who i manage. This was a great article that is inspiring me to take some action.

    Thx!

    • Scott
      Posted at 09:50h, 01 July Reply

      The first step is knowing Cori. Congrats on having at least part of that figured out. Thanks for being open and honest. As for being afraid of losing others’ respect, have a look at my response to Greg above. I believe it’s a similar situation.

  • John Beadle
    Posted at 09:08h, 30 June Reply

    Can you share anything else about the dinner menu questions Scott? I’d be interested to see if there were any common traits for those in the founders circle.

    • Scott
      Posted at 09:52h, 01 July Reply

      Those were the full questions John, and then conversation ensued around them. One common thread I noticed was folks trying to be a little bigger than they were around really high level people. This is no doubt something I struggle with. It just all comes back to being enough though. We have to keep remembering that.

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  • Hugh
    Posted at 07:29h, 01 July Reply

    Great post, Scott. This got me thinking (I’ve thought about it several times in the past too) about all of my close friends and close relatives. The reason I have close relationships with them is because they, and I, open up and are vulnerable. There’s no other way for two close friends to be. On the flip side, I can pinpoint about 10 people I know well and see regularly (some are coworkers) who are not close friends of mine, and that is because either they, I, or both of us are closed and put up a facade, for whatever reason. And I think that’s OK. I don’t need to be best friends with everyone. I’m curious to hear what other readers/commenters think. Is it ok to be completely open with some people or audiences and a little more closed off to another?

    Oh, and one of my vulnerabilities…a certain situation in my life right now prevents me (this is what I’ve created, so despite my word choice, I’m not blaming any external factors) from being myself and living congruently. I am feverishly working to change that ASAP and can’t wait for the day.

    • Scott
      Posted at 09:59h, 01 July Reply

      Glad you know what to work on Hugh. That’s a huge start. You make a good point about close friends. You really can’t be close with others without truly being yourself. It’s nice to know that’s a change that can be made when you aren’t genuinely connecting with someone and you want to be. I think it’s fine to have different levels of openness with others. There are of course some places where it’s more appropriate than others. But know that for real connections (which are what we’re all seeking in one way or another), it needs to start with some level of vulnerability. Think of someone you’ve shared a really terrifying or humiliating experience with. You likely share a closeness with them that you don’t share with others. Important to know as you engage with those around you.

      Thanks for sharing and bringing this up.

  • Cori P.
    Posted at 08:36h, 01 July Reply

    Hi Hugh,

    I know you weren’t talking to me, but I can’t help but acknowledge that you bring up such a good point that I too wonder about. I like and see the value if sharing vulnerabilities in my personal and even social life. I just don’t feel so sure about people I work with to the same degree. I think it’s because I don’t want to seem incompetent as a leader. Maybe I could let my guard down more with collected though who I don’t supervise. Also, I don’t trust many of my co workers very much because I see how they treat other people when they tend to feel betrayed or like they need to defend themselves. It seems like all trust goes out the window despite the investments made in the work relationships. I don’t know, sometimes I wonder if it’s a generational thing. Dont get me wrong, I don’t feel like I’m superior or better and heck I’m only in my mid 30’s but there are a lot of Early to mid 20’s people who I work with and it’s their first real job. A small few of them are way more mature than the others and from what I’ve learned of them it has a lit to do withbtheir life experience which varies greatly from their peers in the same age group. I really want to help make things better and I figure I’ve got to start with myself and model the behavior I want to see. Again though, just how vulnerable should we be to those who we feel such a lack if trust for? I really want to find a way to bridge the gap.

    Thx!

    • Scott
      Posted at 10:12h, 01 July Reply

      Your situation is all too common Cori and I hear your concern. As mentioned above I think the answer is there are different levels of vulnerability appropriate for various situations. Not to mentioned, you want to open up to those you want to connect deeply with. If you don’t trust the people around you, are they really people you want a deeply connect with? I doubt it.

      On the other hand you don’t want to put up a total facade. Open and connected leaders tend to be more effective (not to mention you’ll likely feel a lot better too). I’m not saying you need to tell everyone your deepest darkest secrets, just don’t act like everything is perfect all the time. They will see right through you. Expose yourself in the right ways to those around you.

      I remember seeing the Dalai Lama speak in Santa Barbara a few years ago and he was so open about how he gets angry sometime and screws things up. He also gave some vulnerable examples to the audience. I felt so much more connected to his way of life and to him after the event. I loved it. He surely didn’t share everything but he did share something things and those enhanced my connection to him and his work.

      Hope that helps.

  • Annie
    Posted at 00:49h, 02 July Reply

    This touch my soul very deeply. You’ve put into words things that have been rolling around in my head for a very long time. It’s always amazing that someone such as yourself and others like you have managed to touch on things that most people just keep stirring around in their head. I’m at a personal life changing and career changing course in my life and am absolutley scared out of my mind. Like many of the other comments I’ve read here, there are so many things that a lot of people are scared to talk about for many reason, but one of my reasons is that I do not want the wrong people to stomp on my vulnerablity. We all know about stuff like that and how damaging it is, so it takes a lot of courage to find the right people and to say things that are at a deeper level. Not everyone is at level that would be encouraged and be inspired to appreciated and try that same vulnerablity. Please continue more of these encouraging blogs. Thanks Scott.

  • Ki Kim
    Posted at 03:41h, 02 July Reply

    “Yo, what’s up. Oh, f’sho?”

    I am currently a Cal student majoring in statistics and economics. I don’t hide this aspect of me, but I’ll mention it here anyway. I am actually a very nervous person in general, though I may not show it. My lingering speech issue (I’d say the closest thing that describes it would be stuttering) exacerbates my nervousness as it hinders me from expressing myself effectively and passionately in any important situation. True, my speech issue has improved immensely since when I was a little kid, but knowing that it still lingers always manages to make me extremely self-conscious about the way I speak. Maybe if I could forget that I had it, I would be less nervous, and I would be able to speak fine, or at least, a lot better. But I can’t, because it always pops up right when I seem to have something urgent or important to say.

    What I do NOT tell people is this: I try not to show this part of me in social settings, and I get away with it because my speech issue doesn’t creep up on me when I’m being social (probably because I don’t have the pressure to speak eloquently). And so, most people don’t know about my problem. In fact, they think I can speak perfectly well and always describe me as the guy who is sociable and always says things like the quote in the first line of this post. When I get around to telling them, they reply that I don’t have a speaking problem at all and that I need not worry.

    As my major might suggest, I wish to be a professional person when I get out into the real world. My obvious fear is that I may not be able to, given my incompetence as a speaker. If I get worried and stutter during “speeches” that are most trivial, I can imagine how worried I will get and how much I will sound like an idiot when I have to give a really important presentation to, for example, a client. A client, or anyone for that matter, does not want to hear important information from someone who doesn’t seem to have any idea what he’s doing because he has to pause every 4 words. Actually I do know what I’m doing, I just sound like a hesitating idiot.

  • Christiane
    Posted at 06:01h, 06 July Reply

    Scott, what a fantastic article. Thank you so much for sharing your fears so openly and honestly. I hear what you are saying in terms of not making this particular phone call although it is the most important thing on the list and will give me results for my business and in my personal growth !! 🙂 well, I guess it’s a pretty obvious matter of fear of rejection and fear of failure in my case when putting all the eggs in one basket.

  • SJ
    Posted at 18:28h, 11 July Reply

    Something about me: I say “YES!” too often! I’m afraid of letting people down, missing a big opportunity, not being seen as a team player, etc…BUT I’m happy to say that I’m onto this trend…it’s the first step right? Lol!

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  • Alison Kehl
    Posted at 20:57h, 27 July Reply

    I feel lonely almost every day…Ive felt this way most of my life…Also I push people away…Ive realized recently that I have had many empty relationships over the years…Spending time with people that really dont care about me…in inauthentic situations…Because of this lonly feeling…What a waste of time. Amazing people have loved me and I let them slip through my fingers…Seems like those people don’t trust me (?) But I am actually not a person that lies or cheats or steals or anything…So why does the connection that I am looking for evade me?

  • Adam
    Posted at 00:59h, 28 July Reply

    THANK YOU for this post, that’s exactly what i needed today and it motivated me to fight one of my flaws.
    My big vulnerability is being afraid of talking or writing in public. Yeah, I know it may seem strange but even writing small comment on blog is a challenge. It’s really difficult for me to write this comment and i was fighting with myself for 15 minutes to even write short ‘thank you’ note. Ha! But I won:)

  • Valentina
    Posted at 03:50h, 05 August Reply

    Strange how this issue has come my way quite often lately. It’s sure a message. I came across a great video on TED talks – which I’d like to share:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html
    Be vulnerable, be happy!

    • Scott Dinsmore
      Posted at 22:28h, 07 August Reply

      I actually linked to that video in this post Valentina. That’s where the first inspiration came from. Great talk!

  • Jennifer P
    Posted at 09:07h, 09 August Reply

    Thank you for the reminder, Scott. The fears feel so much bigger when I don’t share them, but seeing them on a post as universal and shared by so many people gives them a more appropriate “size”.

    I’m debating a job offer right now and comparing it to my existing job. Both are fine, well paid and a continuation of what I’ve done for a long time. If I’m really honest with myself, what I want to do is different from either role. I’m scared to cross that abyss to the unknown. I’m scared of the rejection, I’m scared of the financial instability and it would require a more authentic “me” in public open for review all the time. And, of course, I’m deathly afraid of failure. The comment about “being seen” really resonates with this decision.

    Thanks for adding a window of clarity.

    Jennifer

    • Scott
      Posted at 18:09h, 15 August Reply

      Congrats on the options Jennifer. It sounds like you know which of the three is right for you. I hope you’ll make the right decision.

      Remember there’s likely some failure in your future no matter which path you take (as there is for every one of us!). But there’s only one option where the potential upside is priceless. Embrace the uncertainty. Learn from the failure. Give yourself the chance to be who you really are. Once you get a taste, you’ll never look back…

  • Claire
    Posted at 23:49h, 17 August Reply

    Great article – really touching. And I love the idea of using this as a space to express our own vulnerability.
    I feel quite lonely at the moment. I find it hard to express as I have lots of friends and I’m usually the person that everyone else looks to for support and positivity. But when I’m feeling low (which I am at the moment) I shut myself off from friends as I can’t bear showing them that I am not always the person I’ve created myself to be (both in their eyes and my own). So fear of being vulnerable is actually feeding my loneliness.
    I’m going to pick up the phone today and call someone who I’ve been avoiding and tell them everything I’ve written here.

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  • Mickey
    Posted at 14:03h, 13 December Reply

    This article has just answered one of my biggest questions; I’ve been in recovery from anorexia for the past year and recently left treatment. Unfortunately, because I’m such a supreme blagger, I even persuaded myself that I’d conquered all and everything was dandy!
    Less than a month down the line, however, I’ve retreated back into anorexia and after a three weeks of little sleep and full on exam pressure (made 100x worse than it needs to be by my fear of rejection and consequently working like a maniac to make sure I got the highest grades possible and people still liked me) it all came to a head.
    After working through what was going on, I came to the realization that I have absolutely NO idea how to let people know I’m vulnerable. I’m brilliant at talking the talk and you would never know I had any problems whatsoever so being thin and people seeing me not eating was my way of going ‘PLEASE HELP ME’. This post has made me think that maybe, just maybe, I could go crazy and say to someone close to me ‘I really need some help here’. Mind-blowing. Thank you Scott; there’s a good chance you may have helped me sort out my eating disorder. Merry Christmas!

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  • Ciara
    Posted at 16:22h, 17 January Reply

    Many people look up to me because I’m always extremely helpful and always in good spirit, but there are many days that i spend down. i try to hide my depression from others because i view it in such a negative way and am often afraid to ask for advice because i am the person that always give advice when needed. But to be completely honest i’m in a place in my life where i need some one to be there for me, to allow me to vent and give Me advice; But I’m to afraid to ask for help, too afraid of being judged.
    After reading your article i realized that the only reason i have been so afraid to reach out for help is because i have unconsiously been putting up an illusion that my life is perfect and too afraid of anyone ever finding out the truth. Time to start allowing others to help me too 🙂 Thanks Scott

  • lily
    Posted at 20:35h, 18 July Reply

    I am afraid that when people get to know the real me, they’ll be disappointed, and I am so afraid of that rejection, and the hurt that comes with it, that I push people away or put walls up before even given them a chance. I constantly feel like I am not good enough, in anything I do, and I am always trying to be someone else, someone better.

  • HelgaPataki
    Posted at 00:40h, 16 August Reply

    Thanks for an article, Scott. It’s very, very touching.

    My greatest, deepest pain is feeling lonely. I don’t have a partner and I haven’t had any (and I’m 25 now). Nor have I any relationships, though it’s hard to believe. Sometimes I believe I’ll be single till the end of my life. Just seems I can’t attract men. On the other hand, I know things I value and I won’t be with someone just for the sake of it. I don’t know why it happens. I don’t think I’m ugly or so. I just hide this things so darn deep so people just don’t know I have any problems.

    Another big deal is that I don’t feel myself in the right place where I live (Russia). I try to figure out ways to move to Europe, but still have no clues.

  • YongJue Tan
    Posted at 07:05h, 08 September Reply

    Thanks Scott for your great post. My biggest secret is that I’m 26 and I had not been in any relationship before. I know this is neither a failure nor a sin, but I still have that fear to openly talk about it when friends ask me things like ‘When was your first kiss’ or ‘When was your last relationship’ – because I never had one.

    But I feel better after telling it publicly here. Thanks for giving me the space to just be myself. Thanks loads from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

  • ManOfAction
    Posted at 13:14h, 22 January Reply

    Hey Scott,

    I’m from Germany and stumbled over your page a few days ago. I instantly read all of your articles and took a lot of notes. But this one really struck me. There is so much value in it, just reading it makes me feel very good.
    I have worked on myself to become way more authentic in the past, and I guess I always will.
    As you said, a very important thing is to not forget that I’m already enough the way I am today, but never lose the ambition to work on myself and become even better.
    Its so much fun and a source of good emotions..incredible! 🙂

  • Katarina
    Posted at 17:14h, 28 January Reply

    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed today.

    I tend to automatically lie about certain aspects of my life or my attitudes towards something because they’re different or I’m afraid people might not get them. That’s my big confession.

    I’m trying to change that and learn to be more vulnerable and this is exactly what I needed to hear tonight. Thank you agan. :DD

  • Guest
    Posted at 21:35h, 09 February Reply

    great post! I recently wrote a similar piece of vulnerability

    http://welcometothelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/vulnerability/

  • misterinfinite
    Posted at 21:36h, 09 February Reply

    great post! I recently wrote a similar piece on vulnerability.

    http://welcometothelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/vulnerability/

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  • Tee
    Posted at 09:57h, 01 July Reply

    I always been ashamed of myself because of the way iam born…i hide my hands everyday especially when i walk out the door because i fear being judged…it hurts that i don’t know how to let my true self come out….as a child my Mom hated looking at my hands so she made me wear long sleeves so i been doing that all my life being ashamed of myself…thinking noone could or would ever love me…i feel alone nobody visit me…i hate leaving out the house because i fear being judged…i think i have to be perfect for someone to love me…i could never be myself..well i let it out…I’m finally being vulnerable…i guess

  • kat
    Posted at 16:42h, 30 July Reply

    thank you for this, I have been lost for quite a bit.

    My greatest fear is rejection and since we deal with rejection everyday, and instead of addressing them, I have let them pile on and it getting too heavy to bear.

  • Rebecca
    Posted at 16:22h, 07 August Reply

    I love this article and just had to comment about my experience with not being vulnerable. I am someone who takes a very long time to warm up to others, I do not tell people the struggles I have been through especially at work. Recently I have noticed that my managers don’t take me seriously and I get passed up on everything that could possibly advance my current position. I’m only 26 and this is my first real job. From the beginning of my career I already knew I was different. I knew that I was one of the only people that work there that didn’t graduate college, that grew up in a very poor broken home oh and had alcoholic parent. So yeah, that being said its hard to be the most confident and most outgoing and it’s hard to be vulnerable because I feel like I have sooo many things against me. So anyway one of the challenges that I always am faced with is do I tell my manager about my upbringing? Will that hurt my position even more, or will he be able to understand where I am coming from? I’m sick of feeling that I am not good enough even though I feel smarter and more competent than half the people I work for!!! How vulnerable is too vulnerable??

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  • Cody
    Posted at 21:55h, 04 February Reply

    What’s funny about this comment is that I wasn’t going to comment because I thought I would look stupid for commenting on such an old post. I guess that goes to show how much I care about what people think of me.

    As is the same as many people above, I also fear the idea of being alone and rejected. The problem is that these to problems directly coincide with each other. When I have dates sat with girls that interest me, I will find reasons to talk myself out of giving them a chance. Then later on I will wonder why I am alone.

    I have never truly taken a big leap in my life. I am currently in the major that I am in because I thought that it was safe and that I would easily be able to obtain a job after college.

    This was a truly great article. I am starting to realize that I always emphasize my accomplishments and this makes people think that I am completely happy with the way my life is turning out, but really it seems that I’m trying to convince myself that I’m happy.

  • Agatha F. Hines
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    An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little homework on this.
    And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him…
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    But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this subject here on your web site.

  • jayne
    Posted at 00:17h, 05 March Reply

    I’ve never told anyone this. My biggest passion is singing and playing guitar. I keep it a secret because I’m too afraid of what people will think and that they will think I’m terrible to listen to…but i really enjoy listening to my songs. I rarely sing anymore because I live with my boyfriend now and i worry I will annoy him. I wish I could be vulnerable.. let people see and hear who i really am.

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  • Ben
    Posted at 21:56h, 12 August Reply

    Thanks for writing this, calling out those willing to hear, and sharing personally.

    If there was one thing I wouldn’t imagine sharing with thousands of people, let alone the few people I try to let get close to me, it would be that even as I try to put an honest answer together(right now) I’m also trying to make it pretty. Basically I’m the worst kind of hypocrite; even when I’m intently trying to be vulnerable, I still smooth out some of the rough edges to somehow try and stay clean in the midst of crap.

  • D
    Posted at 22:04h, 26 October Reply

    I am scared of caring more than someone else and looking dumb as a result. Instead I look like I don’t care, ever.

  • Shannon
    Posted at 18:56h, 13 November Reply

    I am a 26 year old guy who puts on a mask to look like Im strong and in control. But really I am sensetive, very self aware and wanting to connect with people more them anything. instead I put up a wall and dont let people see my true self.

  • S
    Posted at 05:09h, 04 February Reply

    I love my friends and family very much, but still I have never been comfortable being completely open with any of them. I have just begun a relationship with someone I really enjoy being with, but am afraid to let them know the real me. One of the things I feel ashamed to admit to this person is that I haven’t been in another serious long-term relationship, and yet holding this back is preventing me from opening up to him. How to learn to be vulnerable?

  • Kevin
    Posted at 20:45h, 09 March Reply

    I’m in love with April! Sometimes I lack confidence. I hate engineering as a job, but wouldn’t trade the knowledge for anything…It’s opened so many doors, leading to both good and bad experiences (not necessarily engineering related work). In the last 5 weeks, I’ve made leaps of awareness into my true self. It turns out I am good enough, and people would be lucky to have me in all sorts of relationships…Business, romantic, friends. My greatest fear is to perform stand up comedy, and the worst part is I have a lot of pretty funny material that comes naturally. I usually get so wound up with “the next step,” that I forget about life, relationships, and family. One point of awareness is self-inflicted tension. I find myself clenching my leg muscles, and over time I’m exhausted from it. I need to wake a little earlier and meditate for 10 minutes everyday. I need to increase my vulnerability, let it all hang out, be myself, forget presenting only the shiny sweet portions, and don’t give a darn about people’s judgement. Blast Michael Jackson on the radio. I’m not a fan, but he has some great songs. Step away from the corner, and allow everyone to see me. It’s only self-consciousness that truly judges me…I’m the worst judger of me! Stop judging me, me and let me be me. HA! Be jovial, be real, be me. WOW. Thanks!

  • Vanessa
    Posted at 11:02h, 11 May Reply

    I don’t want to be rejected, that is why I don’t have a job. Because once a teacher told me “You need to change or you’ll never get a job. Don’t apply for one, you are to shy anyway.”
    I am 20 and scared of something someone said 4 years ago. It makes me angry and sad to just think about it.

    Right now I’m afraid someone might actally read this, not because I told something about myself, but rather due to my bad grammer (sorry for that).

    But hey, I’m just a random comment on the internet so I shouldn’t be scared.

    By the way Scott, thanks to your articles I found the courage to write this. And I have to say, it helps getting some weight off of my soul. So thanks for all this.

    PS: I made the profil pic myself and I am proud to admit it 🙂

  • Maren
    Posted at 13:20h, 12 October Reply

    I grew up surrounded by people invested in science. Science is and was their religion. I went on to study science surrounded by people believing in science. I love science and I know its limitations in telling all of it. So I have learned a lot about energy work, different kinds of spiritual approaches and similar “unscientific” theories. Until today I have not told people from my “scientific” background about this. They don’t know this side of me, as goes for the people from the more “spiritual” site of my life who have no clue about my scientific background.

    So here it goes: I am a person who believes that science and spiritual practices are not contradiction or that either of them is right and the other wrong. I believe that both are valid perspectives on the complex universe that surrounds us. They add to each other, complement each other and give me a whole lot of different tools to help me navigate my life.

    Thank you Scott for this article, it is liberating to actually and finally put this into words and out into the world. And thank you, stranger, for reading this =).

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  • Alice
    Posted at 18:09h, 01 December Reply

    I love so many people in my life but I just can’t show them how I’m feeling at all, I put a silly mask on so that people think everything is always good in my life and that I’m always happy. I’m happy but things aren’t always good.

    I’m a very anxious person. I suffer from OCD. I’d rather sit and pretend I don’t have it than let people see that vulnerable side of me so I often pretend I’m okay when I’m not. I also pretend I’m straight when I’m not, I’m bisexual. I hide it to be accepted as I’m worried I’ll be rejected by homophobic people if they know about it. I suppose it all boils down to fear of being rejected by other people.

    Thanks for this post, i’ve been confused as to why I’m not connecting with people all the time and it’s my biggest desire and I just can’t quite get it, probably because I’m pretending to be someone i’m not and people can sense it can’t they!

  • kim haist
    Posted at 14:44h, 01 January Reply

    I am afraid of being my best all the time and in doing so I dampen my light so that others may shine so that they will not reject me.

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  • Morten Jensen
    Posted at 06:36h, 20 June Reply

    I love Raymond Hull’s statement above “he who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away”.

    That line resonated with me instantly, because I have been doing that for years and unfortunately still do. It is only recently that I have realised that I was doing it and I am now working so hard not to.

    I have always been afraid of showing my true self to people I don’t know or voicing my opinions. All because I always thought they were right and I was wrong as their arguments sounded stronger than mine. I never used to question what people said to me, I just nodded and agreed with them even if deep down I didn’t actually agree. Also I usually wait for strangers (or new friends) to open up to me before I open up to them.

    I am terrified of failure as I get immensely embarrassed. When I sat exams for my chartered accountancy qualification (which I do not use at the moment as I am obviously trying to find my passion), I didn’t want to put all my effort into it as I was so afraid of what people would say if I failed and I had worked so hard on it.

    Stupid really, because when I did put all of my effort into it, I got really good results. Not by any means the best, but good enough to pass and definitely better than I thought I could do.

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    Posted at 21:03h, 12 October Reply

    I want to be friends with people, but as soon as I actually start to get past the casual acquaintance stage I either get bored because there’s no challenge, or feel trapped, and I put distance between myself and the person.

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