It wasn’t so long ago I would have rejected the idea that vulnerability could make me a better father, a better husband, and ultimately a better man. These days, I know better.
Like most men, I once viewed vulnerability as weakness. Then I discovered true vulnerability.
It all happened when my wife became pregnant.
To say my wife suffered horrific morning sickness would hardly describe how completely debilitated she was during each of her pregnancies. And, of course, I was helpless to do much if anything about it.
The pregnancies made me feel pretty much useless, but they were barely a blip on my vulnerability radar when compared to the births of our babies. Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot a father-to-be can do in a birthing suite besides just being there for his wife. It’s a truly humbling experience.
When our daughter was born, she arrived so quickly that she did not move or breathe for what seemed like forever. The midwife assured me everything was okay, yet in that moment I knew there was nothing I could do even if she wasn’t okay. I was completely exposed, utterly vulnerable — and I didn’t like it one bit.
Men are crap at being vulnerable. We’d rather wallow in self-pity than ask for help. We’d rather fix a problem than understand what is causing it. We’d rather go into battle than calmly consider what we might have just done wrong.
It’s been many years since my children were born, and as those years have passed, I’ve learned more and more about the importance of being vulnerable. It’s helped me be a better father, husband, and man. I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned with you.
The Fear of Being Vulnerable
In my coaching practice, I come across a lot of men who, while outwardly successful, feel lost. They are unable to find their place as husbands, fathers, and friends. They’ve never taken the time to investigate themselves. They simply don’t understand how to build a life that is complete and joyous.
Men fear being exposed, they fear failure, and they fear not living up to the expectations that society places on them. In many ways, men are trapped — not knowing who or what they should actually be.
By default, we men don’t have the tools to overcome these fears and investigate our own inner worlds. Instead, we focus outwardly on providing for our families, supporting our partners, and being there for our friends. We often forget about ourselves.
The fear of being vulnerable prevents us from investigating, understanding, and ultimately achieving what we really want in life.
But men make a big mistake equating vulnerability with weakness.
Vulnerability Is Not Weakness
For generations, men have been taught to be strong, to be courageous, and to not show weakness. We have been taught that being seen as weak somehow diminishes us. Vulnerability just isn’t the traditional, masculine way. The irony is that vulnerability requires strength and courage.
It takes strength and courage to:
- Accept that you don’t always know the path forward
- Fully immerse yourself in a loving, caring relationship with your partner
- Raise and nurture your children from a place of love and kindness
- Follow your dreams and create the life you really want to live
Accepting that vulnerability isn’t weakness is a significant step in opening yourself to the possibilities that surround you.
2 Ways Vulnerability Can Make You a Better Man
I admit the whole idea of allowing yourself to be vulnerable is confronting. I sometimes revert to old macho behavior, but it never gets me anywhere worth going. Here are two ways you can start practicing vulnerability in your life.
1. Be Authentic
Most people live their lives wearing a mask that never shows the world their true self. Let’s be honest — at times we all wear masks. We men are great at hiding our feelings, our desires, and our dreams. We do a great disservice to ourselves in doing so. By not showing our true selves to the world, we protect ourselves from ridicule, criticism, discomfort, and even pain. But there’s a cost.
Our attempts to protect ourselves also prevent us from achieving our full potential as men. I’m not just talking about career or business success; I’m talking about relationships, happiness, legacy, and fun. I’m talking about contentment. A man can’t be truly content without authenticity, and authenticity requires vulnerability.
To live authentically you must be prepared to ask yourself the hard questions, like:
- What do I truly want in my life?
- What is my calling?
- What am I prepared to sacrifice to live my life the way I want?
Hiding behind a mask is easy. It’s safe. Discovering your true, authentic self is not.
Having the courage to be yourself flies in the face of common sense, and that’s why most people don’t do it. Common sense says, “Stick with status quo, don’t make a scene, and don’t stand out.” Yet all those people you admire are the ones who stayed true to themselves and did (and possibly still do) whatever it takes to live their life authentically.
The Lesson: Just be yourself without worrying about everyone else. Which bring us to point number two.
2. Stop Worrying What Other People Think of You
One of the biggest barriers to achieving what you want in life is the anxiety surrounding what other people think of you. Instead of getting out there and doing what you must do to live your authentic life, you tie yourself up in knots worrying about what others think.
It takes the courage to be vulnerable to overcome the fears and anxiety around other people’s thoughts and perceptions.
I think it was Wayne Dyer who said, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” And it’s true. Why should any of us spend a moment thinking about what someone else is thinking about?
What other people think and say about you says less about you and more about them. It speaks more about their own insecurities than it does about your actions. So, let go of what you can’t control and free yourself to reach your full potential.
The Lesson: Next time you catch yourself thinking about what someone thinks of you remember — it’s none of your business.
Be Yourself, and You’ll Be a Better Man Too
Look, I’m just a man going through the same stuff other men go through. I have self-doubts, I have dreams, I have concerns, and I’m just doing my best to be a great father and a great husband. And while I don’t have all the answers, I do know that being more open and overcoming the fear of being vulnerable will make you a better man.
How do I know this? My wife and kids told me (and they know everything!).
So, stop worrying about looking weak or inferior, and instead accept that vulnerability is as important as strength. Not only will you discover that opening yourself up to the world brings greater opportunities, it just might be the difference between you living the authentic life of your dreams and feeling like you’re stuck in a rut for the rest of your days.