Self-Reflection – The role of vulnerability And Why it matters

In this series on Reflective Practice & Self-Reflection, we’ve considered: –

1.The environment for Self-reflection:
2. The Power of Journaling:
3. Asking the Right Questions:
4. Mindfulness and Meditation:

The fifth component is: –


Few things make people more nervous than the thought of sharing their vulnerability. Yet, to make Self-reflective Practice meaningful, we have to be honest and vulnerable with the toughest of all audiences, ourselves. I know from personal experience, being vulnerable to our own selves is way more challenging than being vulnerable with another. Why would that be?

Let’s first look at Sharing vulnerability with others, particularly in the realm of business, entrepreneurship, and leadership. It’s a complex and nuanced issue, with both pros and cons.

Advantages of Sharing Vulnerability with others

1. Builds Trust and Authenticity: 
Sharing vulnerability can humanise leaders and entrepreneurs, making them more relatable to employees, customers, and investors. This authenticity will foster trust, as people connect with those who display genuine emotions and struggles.

2. Enhances Communication: 
Vulnerability is likely to improve communication within a team or organisation. When leaders admit their shortcomings or concerns, it encourages open dialogue and problem-solving. Team members then feel more comfortable sharing their own thoughts and concerns, leading to better understanding and decision-making.
3. Learning and Growth: 
Acknowledging vulnerability can be a catalyst for personal and professional growth. It shows a willingness to learn from mistakes and adapt to changing circumstances, which lead to innovation and resilience.
4. Resilience and ability to change: 
In fast changing business environments, vulnerability can be a strength. It allows leaders to recognise weaknesses and adapt to new challenges more quickly, increasing the organisation’s ability to thrive in dynamic markets.

Disadvantages of Sharing Vulnerability:

1. Perceived Weakness: 
The fear of appearing weak is a big concern for entrepreneurs and leaders. There’s a worry, sharing vulnerability will diminish their authority or deter investors and customers who seek strong and unwavering leadership.
2. Risk of Exploitation: 
In highly competitive industries, revealing vulnerability could expose weaknesses that competitors will exploit. 
3. Impact on Confidence: 
Overexposing vulnerability might erode team members’ confidence in their leader’s ability to make sound decisions. While it’s essential to acknowledge flaws, constantly expressing them can translate into self-doubt and undermine morale. 
4. Loss of Control: 
Sharing vulnerability might be a slippery slope. Leaders fear if they disclose too much, they will lose control of their image and the narrative surrounding their business. 

Brene Brown discusses the power of vulnerability in her Ted talk which went viral.

Vulnerability, fear, and shame in self-reflection

So why will vulnerability be difficult in Self-reflection, after all it’s only us? The biggest barrier to open communication and sharing our vulnerability is fear and its co-dependent lover shame. Fear that we’ll connect with our perceived weakness and the shame we’ll then feel.

What I’ve learned, and stated before, “Shame cannot survive without the oxygen of secrecy” So the answer to the conundrum share or not to share vulnerability, comes down to whether you’ve dealt with your shame.

When you’ve conquered shame, you are free to choose whether you share vulnerability from a healthy place or a shame-ridden fearful part of the inner you. When you do share vulnerability, you deprive shame of that oxygen.

I began by asking “Why is being vulnerable with ourselves is so difficult?” It’s precisely because you are your toughest critic and that is because you fear you are ultimately not enough. Begin, by being kind to yourself without judgement.

The truth is, you’ve been doing your best.

What do you think?

Next time…..Receiving and giving Feedback