How to approach vulnerability: Unlocking authenticity, resilience, and connection

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated April 10, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Have you ever noticed how a simple act of vulnerability can create an instant bond between two people? It's as if the floodgates of authenticity and connection open up, allowing for a profound and meaningful exchange.

Often misunderstood and underestimated, vulnerability may hold a remarkable power to transform our lives and relationships. Brené Brown, an acclaimed academic and author, believes vulnerability can accelerate personal growth and improve human relationships. As a catalyst for courage, creativity, and connection, she encourages us to lean into our vulnerability as a source of strength rather than weakness.

Sharing our stories, imperfections, and fears can strengthen our relationships and sense of belonging. This article explores the benefits and opportunities gained through vulnerability. We'll discuss the misconceptions surrounding vulnerability, examine the fears that hold us back, and learn practical strategies to cultivate authenticity, resilience, and connection.

Embrace vulnerability and unlock your authentic self

The power of vulnerability

Contrary to popular belief, vulnerability can create an environment of safety and security. Being vulnerable can encourage us to be honest and open with our thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires. When we are vulnerable and authentic with ourselves and others, we build trust and intimacy in our relationships.

As we present our true selves to the world, flaws and all, we can be seen, heard, and understood. These
can help us develop a strong self-awareness and confidence in who we are. Instead of hiding behind the mask of perfectionism or people-pleasing behavior, we can embrace our uniqueness and worthiness without fear of judgment or criticism.

We may also become more resilient when we embrace our vulnerability. Resiliency allows us to bounce back from failure and pick ourselves up after experiencing setbacks. Resilience can empower us to take risks, try new things, and challenge our limiting beliefs. With practice, we can become more comfortable standing for our beliefs and staying true to our values.

Why are people afraid of being vulnerable?

Despite the opportunities that vulnerability may bring, many people still struggle to authentically share their true selves. They may be afraid of judgment or rejection from others. They may also have had negative experiences that make it difficult to trust and believe in themselves.

Societal pressures and expectations often play a part in keeping us guarded and closed off. Many people are taught from a young age to separate their feelings and needs from any outward expression, making it hard for them to know what they're feeling or wanting in the first place.

The fear of vulnerability can have far-reaching impacts on our personal growth and relationships. We can miss meaningful opportunities to connect with others when we don't open up and share our true selves. We may also get stuck in behavior patterns due to a lack of self-awareness or understanding.

Behavior science studies indicate that having emotional intelligence may be a prerequisite for successful relationships and personal happiness. Being emotionally intelligent requires us to be in tune with our feelings and those of others.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh

Cultivating authenticity, resiliency, and connection through vulnerability

One of the first steps to cultivating authenticity may be learning to honor and accept your feelings. It can be difficult to honor your feelings if you’ve been taught to hide or suppress them.

Bottling up your feelings doesn't make them disappear—it just makes it harder for you to understand and work through them. Allowing yourself the freedom to express your feelings may help you gain greater insight into who you are and open new pathways of connection with others.

When we learn how to approach our vulnerability correctly, we can identify our values and beliefs more clearly. By understanding ourselves better, we become better equipped to act according to our values rather than outside pressures. We can make decisions with courage and conviction rather than fear or avoidance.

Self-compassion in moments of vulnerability can also go a long way in helping us to stay connected with ourselves and others. When we learn to show kindness and understanding toward our flaws, fears, and mistakes, we can eventually move past them and grow stronger.

The path to resilience can be complicated. It requires us to look within and work through our doubts and weaknesses to build a strong foundation of self-awareness and confidence.

Recognizing vulnerability doesn't mean sacrificing your safety or well-being.  You can determine what feels safe and comfortable for you based on your needs and boundaries. Learning to set appropriate boundaries and prioritize self-care are core elements of resilience. 

Developing effective coping mechanisms and self-care practices can also be beneficial for building resilience. These practices may include journaling, meditation, physical exercise, or connecting with nature. Mindful breathing can also be an excellent tool for calming the nervous system and reducing stress. Taking time out for mindfulness and self-care can help you stay grounded and connected to your true self no matter what life throws at you.

When we learn how to open up authentically and vulnerably, we may become better able to relate to others and build trust and intimacy more quickly. Active listening, invitational language, and empathetic communication can lead to greater understanding and connection. 

By allowing ourselves the space and safety needed for vulnerability to thrive, we open ourselves to new possibilities for connection, healing, and growth. With practice, we can become more comfortable with uncertainty and develop more empowered tools for communication and relationships.

Overcoming obstacles and resistance

Whenever we face our vulnerability, we may experience fear and resistance. Our first instinct may be to shy away from uncomfortable feelings, but with practice and support, we can learn how to manage them more effectively.

One way can be by challenging our own limiting beliefs about ourselves. Limiting beliefs are the insecurities, fears, and other doubts that hold us back from taking risks or speaking up for ourselves. Taking a few moments out of your day to meditate can help you focus on replacing self-defeating thoughts with positive ones. Reminding yourself that you have the power to be yourself can give you the courage to take steps forward.

Preparing yourself for potential setbacks and failures can be part of the journey toward success. Effective coping with and accepting failure can help you stay committed to your goals. After all, failure can be an effective teacher. It can provide valuable insight towards making better decisions in the future.

When facing criticism from those around us, remembering that their words don't define who we are is often helpful. We have the power to choose our response. We can take their comments personally or use them as an opportunity for self-reflection. These moments of vulnerability can be our most profound teachers if we allow ourselves the space and time to learn from them.

Cultivating vulnerability is often about taking risks and having the courage to be true to ourselves. It's a process of self-exploration that requires us to reflect deeply and challenge our most fundamental beliefs. Through this journey, we can open up new possibilities for personal growth and build stronger relationships with those around us.

Embrace vulnerability and unlock your authentic self

Practice becoming more vulnerable in online therapy

Online therapy – available through platforms like BetterHelp – can be an invaluable resource for those looking to explore and understand their feelings of vulnerability more deeply. Speaking with a licensed therapist can provide insight into what lies beneath your thoughts and behaviors while enabling you to learn new strategies for managing difficult situations. Through a more comfortable setting, you may feel better equipped to tackle challenges that may have been difficult to discuss.

A 2021 study from the World Psychiatric Association indicates many advantages to Internet-based therapy compared to in-person treatment. The evidence-based treatments available online are often more cost-effective and efficient. Additionally, therapists may use software and automated features to track patient progress and outcomes more effectively.

It's possible to start the work of self-exploration at any point. Vulnerability may be intrinsic to the human experience, but sometimes, we need support to embrace it. With the right tools and resources, you can create a safe and comfortable space for yourself to grow. Over time and with practice, we can build resilience, foster relationships, and take ownership of our stories with courage and compassion.


Vulnerability may manifest differently for each of us, but as we develop emotional intelligence and self-awareness, we can learn how to incorporate it into our daily lives. Practicing self-compassion and kindness toward others, setting boundaries, and developing effective coping mechanisms can help us stay connected with ourselves and those around us.

Online therapy can be an excellent resource for those looking to explore their feelings of vulnerability. Through evidence-based treatments, you can receive the support you need to understand what lies beneath your thoughts and behaviors while learning new strategies for managing difficult situations.

Cultivate emotional resilience with a professional
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