It's high time we spoke about the elephant in the room. You might have heard several times that in order to become strong we have to show our vulnerabilities, but haven't you ever been hurt because of sharing too much?
While it is true that in order to have strong bonds with others it is necessary to show our true feelings, and that might sometimes mean exposing ourselves to being vulnerable, you have to be clever as to whom you share your true self with.
I grew up in the talk show and reality show era when everyone seemed to be broadcasting their lives and personal problems for the world to know. I remember feeling uncomfortable when watching a host trying to make one of their guests literally confess to something painful. I know that most of those shows must have been staged, but I promise I have a point. The thing is that the same pattern seems to be repeating itself now with the advent of social media platforms, where everyone can share what they are doing and what they are feeling 24/7—we humans just like to watch and opinionize about someone we don't even know.
What I'm trying to explain is that there is a fine line between opening up to vulnerability for whatever the reason, and oversharing, being exposed, and ending up getting hurt as a result.
How to open up to vulnerability without getting hurt
First of all, you cannot show your true feelings in an unsafe environment, and social media generally isn't a safe place to expose yourself. To be able to open up and shout out to the world what you feel takes strength and it also takes some emotional support, real emotional support, otherwise, you might not be ready to face comments that could upset you. This does not only apply to social media, it applies to all interpersonal relationships in general—more about that in a minute.
What does real emotional support mean?
It means that you have to have processed your feelings and understood what happens to you before being able to confidently share your feelings. This does not mean that you mustn't tell anyone how you feel, if anything, you have to talk about it until you're finally over it, but in a safe environment.
What is a safe environment?
You cannot open up your heart to people who you don't totally trust, let alone social media because everyone has their shortcomings, and even if they don't mean to hurt you, their own vulnerabilities can play a role in confusing you even more than you were in the beginning.
I do believe you have to talk about what makes you vulnerable over and over again until it becomes your strength. That is why I always recommend doing therapy. Therapy has helped me overcome my fears, get over a heartbreak or two, and achieve goals I never thought I would be able to, and all because I was able to work on what hurt me the most in a safe environment.
I'm not saying that the only way to open up to vulnerability and not get hurt is to seek professional help, though it has worked for me. What I'm saying is that not anyone can help you, even if they mean to.
The bottom line
Not sharing anything at all can make you get stuck in shallow relationships, but people have to earn your trust to be able to know those areas of you you keep to yourself, and that takes time, effort, and a little bit of getting to know each other.
So if you ever feel like you are in need of some help, you are not alone, addressing mental health is paramount for a happy life, and do ask for advice from someone who has shown you that they really care for you. Also remember, there is no shame in consulting a therapist.