First things first, vulnerability resources for men does not mean vulnerability for dummies! As as a man, when you hear the word “vulnerability”, what comes up for you?
Does the word conjure up ideas of weakness or insecurities? You wouldn’t be alone if you said yes.
Perhaps, as a man, you think that it’s a word that only relates to women.
Well, neither of those are true.
The fact is that vulnerability is the opposite of those misconceptions, which have plagued men and delayed their growth for decades, perhaps even centuries.
When surveyed, 51 percent of men indicated they had two friends or fewer to have an open discussion about serious topics. And a staggering one out of eight indicated they didn’t have anyone to talk to at all.
If they were in Canada, those numbers would amount to approximately 7.6 million and 1.9 million men, respectively.
Becoming more vulnerable brings you greater happiness and more fulfillment.
You become a more balanced person and others find you more approachable. Continue reading to discover why it’s important to embrace the feelings of vulnerability and why it’s even healthy, especially for men.
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How do we define vulnerability?
Why does vulnerability have such a negative meaning in our culture? Does it mean there’s a problem, or does it mean there is an opportunity?
Vulnerability, in its truest form, is the state of being exposed and opening yourself up to being attacked, either emotionally or physically.
However, it happens to be one of the strongest emotions that anyone can ever feel. When you’re vulnerable, it is an opportunity to show strength.
Most men misinterpret those feelings because of being taught not to show any sign of being “less than a man” – whatever that means.
To defend ones’ manhood, most men shy away from vulnerability because of the uncomfortable feelings and the fight or flight mode that is often overwhelming.
Being vulnerable has nothing to do with gender, weakness, or being “less than a man.” But if not embraced, it can cause insecure feelings to emerge because of what experts call – shadow beliefs, which will be discussed further below.
Being vulnerable can easily put a person in an undesirable position to be hurt emotionally or verbally attacked, and no one wants to feel that way. In fact, the Latin interpretation of the word “vulnerability” literally means “wound,” and it very often has a negative connotation when discussed.
Can you be vulnerable and strong at the same time?
The short answer is yes. But it takes the skills to manage vulnerability, which you will learn throughout this article.
Identity: Know Who You Are
When you know who you are, you feel more confident in your interactions with other people. It’s as simple as that. But for most people – man or woman – this can be a struggle. Perhaps past experiences from childhood or past relationships have impacted your self-esteem. At the core of vulnerability is how much you can trust yourself – not the other person.
Other people are going to act the way they choose to act. Period. You cannot control their behavior. But you can control the way you respond.
However, when you have a low opinion of yourself or areas of your life that have contributed to feelings of distrust, the thought of being vulnerable to anyone can be frightening. That does not negate the fact that most people naturally feel uncomfortable when dealing with vulnerable moments. And that should make you feel differently about being open to vulnerability.
Knowing yourself will always be the strongest foundation for vulnerability. And men need to understand that everyone on the planet feels some type of fight or flight feeling when they feel vulnerable, regardless of self-acceptance and self-esteem. But if you’re unaware of your true value, it can make vulnerability seem like a nightmare.
The good news for men is that it’s all manageable, and it’s perfectly normal to ask for help to achieve a greater sense of self and not be controlled by your ego. The ego wants to protect itself at all costs, and that is a losing battle.
Know Your Value: You Have More to Offer
How do you get to a place where you know exactly who you are? What are the things that are considered “men’s work” to get comfortable with being vulnerable? Although there isn’t a book written yet called “vulnerability for dummies,” there are plenty of things that you can do to strengthen your self-esteem and build a solid foundation to become open to being vulnerable.
First, get rid of a negative mindset and negative thoughts about your true value. Replace negative thoughts or misplaced feelings of inadequacy with positive affirmations about your truth.
Everyone has value. Don’t get caught up in your ego.
As a man, you’re naturally prone to identify with your accomplished efforts. After all, you’re the hunter of the human species and, to a large degree, your masculinity is connected to this raw and natural embodiment.
To get to a place of true acceptance and knowing your true worth and value means that you must detach yourself from what you “do” and focus more on your “who.”
A man’s true value is based on who he is as a person and how he chooses to live his life based on integrity, honor, and purpose. Practice finding opportunities where you can highlight the core values of your inner self.
Does that mean you should disregard your external contributions to society? On the contrary, you should honor those contributions and feel good about them. But that is not all you have to offer as a man.
When you begin to identify more with who you are, rather than what you do, you’re less likely to see vulnerability as a hindrance to being strong.
You’re more likely to stand firm in the belief that you are enough, regardless of anyone’s ability to attempt to hurt, attack, or make you feel anything other than what you truly know yourself, without any ambiguity.
You must see vulnerability as a skill and not as another thing lacking in your life. That’s how you become a great man, and that’s how you’re going to better your relationships with others.
Actions to take for important men’s work and support:
- Speak with other men to understand what they’re experiencing.
- Maintain a journal to write down your most private thoughts.
- Join men’s groups to associate yourself with like-minded individuals.
- Read books on gratitude and other spiritual books that are positive.
- Find ways to integrate vulnerability for other men into your life.
- Detach yourself from anyone who is toxic and contradicts your core values.
- Permit yourself to cry in private to release built-up emotions.
- Don’t volunteer personal information that you know will bring resistance or attacks.
Vulnerability and Loving Relationships
If you’re a father of daughters, are you the type of man that you hope your daughters will marry one day? What type of legacy are you leaving behind?
These are questions that need to be answered to find out if you truly will do the work to become open to vulnerability. It comes down to understanding there is undeniable value in sharing your thoughts and feelings, and even failures, with others in a safe environment. Choosing to do otherwise simply creates a false narrative and space for others to fill in the blanks of who you are. And that is a huge mistake, especially if you’re a father.
A good way to connect with those you love while learning how to be more vulnerable is also by giving others what you’ve learned. Once you’re making headway and feeling more confident with vulnerability, consider being a mentor to someone. Consider the relationships that you have.
Is there anyone in your life who could benefit from the experiences you’ve encountered?
You may think that you don’t have much to offer since you’re learning about vulnerability as well. However, more times than not, the teacher usually learns more than the student.
Take the opportunity to share your journey with a loved one that is struggling with the same vulnerability issues. If you’re the father of a son, this is imperative. You can break the cycle and reduce the likelihood that he will incur the same experiences as you.
While valuable vulnerability resources for men are readily available, there is no comparison to receiving information and direct knowledge from a respected authority figure. You can make the biggest difference and have the most influence, even while continuing the learning process yourself.
Common Struggles Among Men-to-Men Relationships
Some men grow up without a father, or the father is absent from the home because of a deep commitment to his job. Men have been led to believe that if you’re “putting food on the table” that’s enough to fulfill a fatherly obligation.
However, it’s simply not enough. And men are left without any direction for how to connect with other men without sports being involved. The masculine identity is a façade. And if you’re caught up in it, stop it. Men are creatures of habit.
Once they reach a certain age, it’s difficult for them to see things any different than they already are. You become isolated in your feelings and bury them deep inside. It is not only healthy for men to discuss vulnerable issues with other men, but it’s also essential to growing as a man. Men often imitate other men they respect.
The truth of the matter is that most men are desperate to open to other men, but they become frozen in any attempt to do so because of fear that the other man will consider them as being weak. How odd is that?
If the common unspoken bond is to share your feelings and be understood by another man, why do men struggle with opening up to one another?
While it may have to do with the fear of being misunderstood about ones’ orientation, it has more to do with the fact that they’re repeating the same pattern that was taught to them or the lack of teaching, to begin with, by an absent father. This pathology is continued until the man finally realizes just how damaging it has become to themselves and those they genuinely care for.
Unfortunately, it can take decades for some men to get to this point and it’s usually due to understanding their mortality once they become much older, perhaps elderly. And that’s a shame.