Recognizing Vulnerability & Oversharing: Can You Be Too Vulnerable?

Sharing our genuine feelings, thoughts, and truths about ourselves can be immensely rewarding by allowing us to form deeper connections with others. Learning how to be vulnerable can also liberate us from the restraints of self-doubt, fear, and insecurity and help us live our lives fearlessly, open to new experiences and opportunities.

However, being vulnerable doesn’t mean sharing every single detail with just anybody. When it comes to interpersonal relationships, establishing healthy boundaries and respecting them is necessary and beneficial for both sides. Boundaries are also crucial for expressing vulnerability. Sharing does help us build profound connections and empathy with other people, however we also need to respect their boundaries and preferences.

Embracing your vulnerability and being able to openly talk about yourself, your life, and even deeply personal feelings or events is healthy. However, context is everything. Sharing deeply sensitive information in inappropriate situations or among people who are not ready to offer the corresponding level of intimacy or support might lead you to conclude that your expectations were not realistic. It can backfire on you if you are not considering your “audience.”

how to be vulnerable without being needy

What Is The Difference Between Vulnerability And Oversharing?

Expectations are crucial when it comes to the difference between healthy, open conversation and oversharing. If you’re unsure whether something is honest vulnerability or oversharing, consider the motives and expectations behind it by answering some of these questions:

  • Why are you sharing this?
  • What kind of outcome are you expecting or hoping for?
  • What are you feeling while you’re sharing with others?
  • What are your intentions, and do they reflect your life values?
  • Would a lack of response or a particular type of response hurt your feelings?
  • Do you feel that you’re connecting with the other person by sharing?
  • Are you expressing your true needs?
  • Do you already have a trusting relationship with the person you’re sharing with? Does the conversation topic seem appropriate for this level of trust?
  • What are your expectations from the conversation? Are you taking the other person’s feelings and needs into account? Do you know and respect their boundaries?

Being vulnerable and using vulnerability are two quite different things. If the motivation for sharing is confusing or unclear, or if it seems that there are ulterior motives for someone’s apparent vulnerability, it can feel inauthentic or even manipulative to other people. Oversharing can end up being the complete opposite of genuine vulnerability and cause distrust, disconnection, and disengagement.

Instead of bringing people together, oversharing can do the complete opposite. It can feel uncomfortable for both sides. The person who overshares becomes exposed by revealing deeply personal experiences, information, or feelings with someone who isn’t capable of responding to their expectations.

Without the validation, understanding, and support they were looking for, they could end up feeling even more lonely and disconnected than before. In this case, their need for intimacy, deep connection, and belonging are not being met.

The person on the receiving end of oversharing is left baffled by the motivation and expectations of the person pouring out inappropriately intimate details about themselves. It’s hard to empathize with people when you’re suspicious about their motives or their behavior simply doesn’t correspond with the type of relationship you have.

What Are Some Signs Of Vulnerability?

People who overshare don’t usually get the reaction or response they were looking for. This can make them feel frustrated, hurt, annoyed, or even angry. Why does this happen? Why do some people feel entitled to a certain type of reaction and get aggressive if they don’t receive it?

The question to consider in this type of situation is how to be vulnerable without being needy. One of the things to keep in mind is that paying attention to and respecting other people’s boundaries makes all the difference. We don’t have the same comfort levels, so even though something may feel appropriate to you, it might not be to the other person.

People who overshare don’t just cross the line with others. By not establishing appropriate boundaries, they also fail to protect themselves and they forget about the essential benefit of vulnerability – empathy. By oversharing, they fail to empathize with others and consider the impact of their oversharing. This type of behavior pattern is not beneficial for either side.

Most people who tend to overshare may not even understand that they’re doing it or why. They might not have any bad or self-serving intentions; they could subconsciously be trying to make up for what they were missing as children and are still missing as adults who don’t healthily address their vulnerabilities. Just because we’ve grown up doesn’t mean that our brains and emotions have learned to overcome strong imprints of our unresolved childhood experiences and feelings.

Some of the most common signs of overly strong vulnerability include:

  • Spending a lot of time imagining or expecting adverse outcomes in everyday life situations.
  • Increased overall anxiety and avoidance behaviors.
  • Constant feelings of stress and tension in relationships with others.
  • Being worried about physical symptoms or illness.
  • Avoiding any public exposure due to immense fear of being humiliated.
  • Preparing for the worst-case scenario.

How Do You Know If You’re Being Overly Vulnerable?

Being overly vulnerable is usually described as being easily hurt. Since we’re all vulnerable and get hurt by various life circumstances, disappointments, or other people’s words and actions, it can be challenging to determine where to draw the line. None of us are perfectly equal in anything, and that includes vulnerability. So, what does ‘overly’ mean in this context? How can you tell that you’re more sensitive than others?

Some of these behaviors may point to increased vulnerability:

  • Feeling intense fear that someone might discover your true feelings.
  • Being afraid of the possibility that you’ll be rejected or abandoned if you show your true self.
  • Not being able to share any personal information.
  • Obsessing over your mistakes, not being able to forgive yourself and move past them.
  • Feeling intense shame, fear, or grief.
  • Not having healthy boundaries.
  • Having unrealistic expectations.
  • Closing off or isolating yourself from others makes you feel protected.
  • Having negative thoughts about yourself and your capabilities.
  • Avoiding certain everyday activities and social events.
  • Frequently expecting negative outcomes.
how to be vulnerable

Learn How To Be Vulnerable Without Being Needy And Open Yourself Up To New Possibilities With PIVOT

Understanding vulnerability and addressing the feelings and fears that keep you disconnected from others are only the initial steps toward accepting and loving yourself for who you genuinely are. This challenging task requires courage. it’s a struggle with feelings of not being good enough and fears of failure. Scary as it is, this is not a journey you have to go through alone. Experienced PIVOT coaches and relationship advocates can guide you along the way to help you embrace the uncertainty and allow yourself to take chances.

When you take risks and invest yourself without guarantees, you’re opening yourself up to new opportunities and the possibility of change. You can achieve self-authenticity by seeing yourself in a new light, and by changing your behavior, you also change how others see you and interact with you. In the small group setting of our Glass House workshops, we learn to be kind to ourselves and others and enrich connections and relationships with our authentic selves and our loved ones.

Vulnerability: Myths & Misconceptions

Many people try to numb or hide their vulnerability, to push it down and pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s no wonder that misconceptions about it are so widespread. Many people fear being vulnerable; sometimes, they’re ashamed of showing they need help, or they don’t like asking for it, to avoid the possibility of being turned down. Some will spend most of their lives living like this and pushing down all the scary or unpleasant emotions. However, not taking risks usually means missing the chance to experience joy, happiness, and love.

Avoiding vulnerability at all costs can lead to unhealthy behavior patterns and coping mechanisms like discharging pain by placing blame on others, pretending that our actions don’t affect other people, or turning the dissatisfaction toward ourselves and developing poor self-image and low self-esteem. Alternatively, if we take a chance, start listening to our emotions and allow ourselves to be seen by others as we truly are, this change of behavior can lead us to learn to truly listen and hear others too and become gentler to people around us.

Taking these steps and receiving positive reactions from others connects vulnerability and trust. It can help us feel gratitude, learn to love ourselves as we are, and bravely step out into the light with all our imperfections.

becoming vulnerable

What Are Some Common Misconceptions Concerning Vulnerability?

If each of us keeps hiding our vulnerability from others and avoiding to acknowledge it, let alone talk about it, we may fall into one of the traps and common misconceptions that are perpetuated by the silence:

  • Vulnerability is a weakness. Most western societies perpetuate the ideal of strength at any cost, and many of us have been taught that keeping our emotions to ourselves and projecting a picture of strength is mature behavior. Despite widespread cultural myths, vulnerability is not a weakness. In fact, sharing our emotions is very courageous, as it requires risk and inner strength.
  • I am not vulnerable. Some of us may be putting up a bulletproof façade and maintaining an image of strong, independent, fearless individuals. This is also the result of fear and another myth – it’s easier to say we don’t need vulnerability in our lives than to expose ourselves to being hurt.
  • Vulnerability is scary and uncomfortable. Being vulnerable means taking a risk, and that can certainly feel uncomfortable and scary. However, it’s not necessarily a negative thing. Instead, it’s our chance to grow and deepen relationships with people in our lives

Besides, vulnerability doesn’t include only dark emotions and bad memories. It can involve all kinds of emotions, no matter how big or small, and some of them can be related to common everyday events.

  • You need trust to be vulnerable. It is often said that trust is the condition that makes it possible to open up and be vulnerable in front of someone. However, this is often false, as the possibility of connection exists in any type of genuine human interaction. It’s great when trust and vulnerability go hand in hand, yet one doesn’t guarantee the other.
  • Only certain people are vulnerable. It’s a common misconception that certain people are vulnerable while others aren’t. This kind of thinking can even be damaging since it might make some people feel excluded, and the feeling of belonging is one of the most vital human needs. Being vulnerable is necessary and possible for everyone.
  • Vulnerability means full disclosure. There is a clear distinction between vulnerability and full disclosure. Even though vulnerability does mean sharing a part of yourself with others, it doesn’t mean sharing absolutely everything with the world and revealing every single little detail or secret you ever had. We call this, transparency with discernment! 

Vulnerability is self-awareness and social awareness as well. Knowing what’s appropriate to share and what isn’t, particularly when forming new connections with people, is essential for understanding the core principles of becoming vulnerable.

  • We can deal with everything on our own. Some people might go through most of their lives thinking that they don’t need to be vulnerable because they’re self-sufficient and there’s no need to express their feelings to others as they can deal with them on their own.

This can lead to loneliness and robbing yourself of feelings of connection and belonging. The strength people derive from the collective and the ability to communicate, plan, and work together is irreplaceable. People are biologically predisposed to depend on each other.

Is Vulnerability A Strength Or A Weakness?

Mental health professionals and therapists agree that vulnerability is definitely not a weakness. It might be easy or common to think so, particularly if we haven’t had a good role model or were influenced by inadequate parenting or distressing early life experiences. Some of us might have become scared of being vulnerable later in life after having gone through certain disappointments that made us overly cautious.

The feeling of shame and fear of failure are commonly associated with a tendency to isolate ourselves and hide our sincere feelings, thoughts, and needs from others. However, even though being vulnerable and showing it exposes us to great emotional risk and uncertainty, it has a very significant adaptive role. Finding the courage to be honest can lead to unexpected new experiences, changes, creativity, and innovation.

By surrendering to vulnerability and letting our guard down, we can finally allow ourselves to be truly seen as we are and feel accepted and loved for it. The feeling of not being worthy can slowly dissipate, and we can begin to form stronger and more meaningful connections. When we’re loved for who we truly are, we can finally experience a powerful sense of belonging and worthiness. However wonderful it feels to be accepted and loved by others, it’s even more important that we ourselves believe we’re worthy and loveable.

How Can I Begin To Appreciate My Vulnerability?

Learning to appreciate your vulnerability, despite viewing it as being a challenging process, is the best way to begin leaning into vulnerability. Trying to stifle it usually leads to feelings of low self-esteem, shame, loneliness, isolation, and, quite often, even deeper issues like depression and anxiety. No matter how hard we try to avoid it, we’re all vulnerable. That’s the way we’re born, and the only choice we have about it is how we’re going to shape those feelings. We get to decide if we’re going to make the most of them.

One of the main benefits of vulnerability is certainly empathy. Empathy helps us connect with other people by being able to understand how they feel because we understand how we feel. All human feelings, good or bad, are quite universal. Forming strong, open, deep connections with friends, family, or romantic partners is what makes embracing our vulnerability worthwhile.

If we manage to overcome our fear of failure, we’ll realize that vulnerability is essential for learning. Making mistakes, accepting them, and learning from them can lead to personal growth. By accepting that we’re not perfect and that there’s nothing wrong with that, we also accept that others aren’t either and that they also make mistakes and deserve to be forgiven and understood. This acceptance is a valuable opportunity for spiritual and emotional growth.

trust and vulnerability

How To Build Trust And Connection By Accepting And Appreciating Your Vulnerability

Accepting vulnerability leads to forming more vital and more profound connections, both with our true selves and with other people in our lives. If you’re unsure where to start, PIVOT’s experienced coaches can guide you through this rewarding process step by step. Struggling with vulnerability expands our perception by teaching us to work on our flaws while risking judgment. Fighting the fear of being ridiculed or shamed helps us realize that, even though imperfect, we are worthy of love.

Immerse yourself in a life-changing experience of one of our Glass House retreats. Our intimate group workshops can help you brave through the fear. We can solidify our strengths and change how we perceive ourselves and others. As a result, we can grow both professionally and privately and become better friends, parents, and romantic partners.

Five Lessons Vulnerability Can Teach You

Emotional vulnerability can be highly confusing, particularly if we’re used to thinking of it as a weakness. However, being vulnerable for many, leads to letting go of the false ideal of perfectionism. You might have heard it many times: “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Mainly because perfection doesn’t exist.

Trying to pursue it is a dead end, and instead of wasting your energy, maybe it’s time to find out what emotional vulnerability can teach you. If you allow yourself to explore your genuine, most profound feelings, insecurities, fears, and imperfections, you might discover new space for innovation, creativity, and change.

What Are The Different Types Of Vulnerability?

There are many aspects to all human beings; we’re friends, partners, children, parents, employees, and members of the community we live in. Vulnerability in each of these areas can emerge in slightly different ways, and dealing with them may require specific approaches.

  • Vulnerability in relationships. Human beings have their own needs and expectations from romantic partners, friends, and family. However, the fear of judgment, abandonment, or rejection keeps us scared to express our true desires openly.
  • Your mind and body can also be vulnerable and usually express themselves in ways we often misinterpret. Learn to notice and listen to what they’re trying to tell you. A lot of emotional or psychological stress can show up in the form of physical symptoms.
  • Vulnerability in the workplace can be a particularly tricky one. You might be comparing yourself to a colleague and doubting your skills, capability, or knowledge. Of course, there’s more to learn. That goes for everyone, not just you.
  • In your community. This type of vulnerability can significantly differ according to where you live. Still, the common denominator is the abundance of decisions you need to make each day to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Fear of the unknown and social anxiety are common signs of being overly vulnerable within a community. In those cases, you could try removing yourself from distressing situations and seeking professional help.
being vulnerable

What Can Vulnerability Teach You?

Accepting vulnerability and fighting the urge to hide it as deeply as possible from everyone, including yourself, means you’re ready for change. So, what can vulnerability teach you?

  • Accepting that you’re vulnerable takes humility. Just as everyone else makes mistakes and goes on with their lives, so do you. It doesn’t make us failures; it means we’re imperfect. 
  • Creating a sense of worthiness and belonging. Instead of pushing down your insecurities and weaknesses, you can acknowledge them and learn to value yourself for everything you truly are. If you can love yourself as you are and feel worthy of love, other people will perceive it too. After all, you’re the one defining the standards.
  • Being courageous. This means facing your fears, difficulties, danger, and pain. Vulnerability helps you take those risks repeatedly. The possibility of going through distressing experiences by being authentic and showing your vulnerabilities requires courage.
  • Asking for help. None of us can do everything on our own, or the human species wouldn’t survive. Sometimes you’ll feel strong and self-sufficient, and when you don’t, remember there’s no shame in admitting you need help and seeking it out.
  • Not turning off your emotions selectively. You need to feel both the good and the bad. Of course, there will be disappointments, but how else would you know what happiness feels like?
  • Allowing yourself to be genuine and vulnerable to others. It can make you feel alive and bring unexpected joy and gratitude for learning that you’re worthy and loved. This realization can make you kinder to yourself and others.

Why Is Vulnerability Important For Emotional Growth?

Even if your fears and insecurities make you want to hide and put up a wall around them, you might find out that the walls you build also keep the good things from getting in. Don’t let them hinder your growth.

  • Self-awareness is one of the most crucial factors determining emotional growth. Vulnerability can help you recognize harmful defense mechanisms and blind spots. For example, trying to avoid physical pain is something we instinctively do, and the same goes for emotional distress. If we learn to recognize these moments and change our behavior, we can create new habits and healthier behavior patterns.
  • Allows your authenticity to shine through. Many of us present confident personalities that we want to be likable and pleasing to others. The very thought of letting that image crumble can seem terrifying. However, just as you need to trust people in your life to be genuine, they need the same from you. Let yourself be seen the way you truly are, and the right people will reveal themselves. It’s exhausting putting up a false façade. 
  • Becoming the best version of yourself is a strong motivator for most of us. One of the best ways to achieve the peace necessary for realizing your full potential is to understand who you are and why you behave the way you do. When you identify your strengths and weaknesses, you will know what needs to be revealed, what can be improved, and what needs to be accepted.
  • Mindfulness, or being fully present in the moment you’re experiencing, is crucial for developing empathy and recognizing all the emotional and social cues that can help you identify your own and other people’s feelings.
  • Fosters new and more meaningful connections. If you allow people to see the real you, with all your imperfections and insecurities, and get positive feedback, it will make you value those people more, and vice versa.
  • Vulnerability can also help you build a healthier mindset. This means that changing your perception can influence your mental health and well-being, improving your personal and professional life.
  • It brings change and reveals new opportunities. Expressing your vulnerabilities simultaneously with your strengths creates genuine connections with people who can appreciate you for everything you are. You may find new and unexpected allies in people you haven’t been close with before.

Is There A Positive Correlation Between Vulnerability And Empathy?

After learning how to be vulnerable with yourself, you can begin building up the courage to feel uncomfortable in various situations and in front of other people, despite your instincts telling you to avoid this at all costs. However, allowing yourself to be vulnerable and recognize and express your deepest fears, emotions, and genuine thoughts builds self-awareness, mindfulness, and courage to relate to others. By doing this, we are experiencing empathy.

Empathy is one of the most valuable skills we can have. We can recognize and understand other people’s emotions because we know those same emotions within ourselves. Empathy is intricately connected to vulnerability because if we’re not in touch with our own emotions, we can’t have the ability to notice them in others.

When we learn to connect our emotions to specific events, behaviors, or circumstances, we can also recognize when other people are going through similar personal experiences. This allows us to understand each other and feel for each other. That way, by sharing our vulnerability with others, we build stronger connections and trust.

This is particularly important when it comes to people closest to us, our family, friends, and romantic partners. Empathy teaches us to listen to and connect with others, leading to emotional growth.

how to be vulnerable with yourself

PIVOT Helps You Experience Emotional Growth By Being Vulnerable 

Vulnerability, as frightening and risky as it may seem, teaches us many lessons about ourselves and others. It helps us form healthier relationships and behavior patterns through honest communication. PIVOT’s experienced coaches can guide you through identifying and accepting your vulnerabilities.

Since empathy is one of the most valuable skills born out of vulnerability, small group workshops can provide an ideal setting for practicing mindfulness and awareness of your feelings and those of others. As a result, you can start your personal growth in one of our Glass House retreats, find new courage to express yourselves, and build healthier, trusting relationships.

Understanding Vulnerability: Is It a Choice?

If you were given a choice, would you choose to be vulnerable? Would you want to risk being physically or emotionally attacked and hurt? Most people presumably wouldn’t. So, being vulnerable for many feels like it’s too hard.  

The fundamental question is not precisely “How can I be vulnerable?”; it’s about how to express it without fear of rejection and enter into it in the healthiest way possible. Vulnerability has a critical role to play in human relationships. It helps us empathize with others and see things from their perspective.

Why Do I Fear Vulnerability?

Being aware that you’re not the only one that’s resisting it is important. Most people fear vulnerability, even those you’ve been hurt by in the past. This is a common human trait, and we’re all dealing with it in our own different ways, whether we’re aware of it or not. Some people may seem extraordinarily confident and strong, like nothing can catch them off-guard, and that’s usually a façade. Many hide their vulnerability deeply and avoid admitting to being hurt or sensitive at all costs.

Nonetheless, we must deal with ourselves first before we start dealing with others and the relationships we have with them. Clearly, the fear of vulnerability is closely related to the fear of rejection, belittlement, or abandonment. We might feel it makes us seem needy, unworthy, and less capable of dealing with life than people around us.

And if we think this badly about ourselves, what will others think? This type of thinking is common, yet deeply misguided. There’s a reason behind the vulnerability we all feel.

being vulnerable examples

Can You Learn To Be More Vulnerable?

Yes.  You can learn how to be more vulnerable and need to know how to deal with it. Expressing your vulnerability without fear and accepting the risk of being hurt is the true goal here.  Learning to be comfortable – being uncomfortable is key.

If you’ve already had the bad experience of opening up to the wrong people, you might think that being vulnerable and revealing your true feelings and thoughts can only backfire and ruin both your relationship with that person and your sense of self-worth.

People who don’t respond well to the vulnerability of others are often afraid of their own. It could serve as a mirror to them reflecting their own fears. Remember that many people are not prepared to dig through their pain and other feelings that make them feel ashamed, less than, not enough, etc. 

However, when it comes to your own journey, there are some steps you can take to become more open about your vulnerabilities:

  • Know yourself. Explore your feelings and fears and think about the things that cause you distress. You might not be aware of the underlying reasons behind them. Still, you can discover this with proper expert guidance or by taking the time to think or write about your vulnerabilities.
  • Ask for help. If you’re going through a rough patch, you might not be able to deal with revealing your vulnerabilities alone. Instead of isolating yourself and pretending everything’s fine, try to let some people in and let them know how you feel. If you need professional help, don’t be ashamed to admit it.
  • Be open about your feelings. This can be one of the most challenging steps – being completely honest about your fears and pain in front of another person. They might not have a solution for your issues, but the feeling of support can also be beneficial.
  • Share the moment. Don’t keep it all in while it’s happening. If you’re feeling hurt by somebody’s words or actions, let them know. Their response might surprise you. You may form a deeper bond with people that way and help them open up too.
  • Don’t forget about healthy boundaries. Not everybody’s equally prepared to accept their own or the vulnerability of others. Choose the right people to share your feelings with. If you’re getting a distressing response from someone, that’s probably not the right person.

Is Being Vulnerable A Choice Or A Trait?

Even though vulnerability is not a choice, and we’re all born with it, from a purely biological standpoint, being vulnerable doesn’t seem to make much sense. It exposes us to attacks and allows others to harm us physically and emotionally. So naturally, it makes it an uncomfortable choice for many. 

However, there’s an incredibly significant role vulnerability plays in our lives. It can help us form better and more meaningful relationships with others. Close, healthy relationships improve our physical and emotional well-being, enrich our lives and make us generally happier and more satisfied with ourselves. In addition, vulnerability helps us feel empathy; without it, fulfilling relationships with friends, family, partners, and children wouldn’t be possible.

Even looking at human babies it’s easy to conclude that, compared to some other primates, they’re much more helpless and dependent on others to survive. This is vulnerability in its purest form. It teaches us that it’s natural to depend on others and have others rely on us. Of course, this doesn’t apply only to babies. We are vulnerable in many other ways throughout our lifetime.

Allowing ourselves to be open about it can influence others to do the same. That way, we can be there for each other, both in challenging times and the good ones. Some of the more common examples of being vulnerable include:

  • Being honest and open about your mistakes and shortcomings.
  • Sharing things about yourself that you consider profoundly personal and usually keep private with the appropriate people.
  • Taking chances, even when they can lead to failure or rejection.
  • Allowing yourself to feel and express distressing emotions like fear, shame, or grief.
  • Being open and straightforward about what you want in a relationship, what you need to be happy, sharing your expectations, and setting boundaries you’re comfortable with.

Is It Better To Hide Your Vulnerability Or Not?

By accepting our vulnerabilities and finding ways to deal with them, we can use them to our own advantage. It’s a chance to better ourselves and improve our relationships with people who matter in our lives. We can serve as an example to those we care about and help them do the same.

If you choose to work on showing your vulnerability, you can achieve a sense of self-awareness that will, in turn, help you in ways that may be unexpected or seem counterintuitive. Vulnerability can:

 Most importantly, you will learn to love yourself by:

  • Embracing your mistakes.
  • Realizing that you’re important and worthy of love.
  • Stop feeling less deserving and constantly trying to prove yourself.
  • Accepting that no single person can satisfy all your needs, and you can’t do that for others either.
how can I be vulnerable

PIVOT Can Help You In Becoming Vulnerable And Learning To Deal With It In A Productive Way

Whatever you’ve been taught as a child or unpleasant life experiences, you can’t simply decide whether to be vulnerable or not. We all are – not to the same extent, of course.  So instead of suppressing your vulnerability, learn how to use it to make your life and relationships better. The benefits can be truly remarkable.

Embracing vulnerability, and sharing it with people, can help you embrace fulfilling relationships through mutual empathy. The small groups of our Glass House retreats are the perfect setting for exchanging your thoughts and feelings with others, with expert guidance from our PIVOT coaches.