The Benefits of Being Vulnerable

As seen in our September 7, 2023 Newsletter – Subscribe Here

This word seems to be something taboo for the male species. The historical mores of our society have ingrained in us, the male, that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. For us, strength comes in our ability to manage our emotions and be in control of them. Often, that means stuffing them down into a place we want to leave them and ignore them forever.

But, as any man will tell you, if they’re being honest…emotions don’t disappear. They remain and affect us in ways we don’t understand and often aren’t even aware of. I think one of the most confusing to us is the emotion of vulnerability.

Vulnerability means admitting we don’t know. This is the control factor that my generation has been taught we must never give up. However, being in control all the time during one’s life isn’t real; it’s impossible. Parenting has taught me that.

Watching your kids struggle through adolescence is a perfect example. So much is going on, physically and mentally, it is difficult to explain to them why things happen, like when my daughter sobs after some boy expresses his lack of interest in her: “He’s a dumbass, honey. That’s why he doesn’t like you.”

When your kid cries, you feel the pain. Not the pain they are feeling, but the pain of being helpless in making them understand and see that their future will be so much more than this moment. As a dad, this is a step into understanding how to be vulnerable. I often have to admit to them, “I don’t know, sweetheart. But we will figure it out.”

But how do we become comfortable with being vulnerable with our friends?

I have those male friends in my life who challenge me. They aren’t afraid to call me out on my bullshit. They listen to me when I need them to. They question me to understand. They share their experience to try and offer advice. They make me laugh when I need it. And they reciprocate the vulnerability I share with them.

The guys I spend the GFW with, all bring this to the table. Over time, we have navigated the rough seas of vulnerability together, and we know we can count on each other for help and aid when we don’t understand or we don’t know.

The best part about having these guys continue to influence me is the carryover into other aspects of my life. I am a better dad, husband, brother, son, colleague, teacher, and friend because I continue to learn how to understand vulnerability and all it encompasses.

It takes time…a lot of time…to get to the point in a relationship where the comfort level feels good. Building relationships is like that. It takes effort, time and commitment. It takes a willingness to be vulnerable, that one thing we men have been taught NOT to be, at least not to admit to being.

But if I start to think about my life without these dudes in it…life looks pretty empty. And for a lot of men, sadly, it is.

I have heard the phrase, “lead by example” a bazillion times in my life, and although it can sound corny and cliché, it is imperative in helping someone find their way out of loneliness. Vulnerability seems to act as a gateway to developing a relationship. When I am willing to embrace it and put myself out there, the gate seems to open. If I stay closed off, well…nobody comes through.

For me, my willingness to adapt to and understand vulnerability has played the most effective role in deepening my friendships. I don’t want to be that old school guy who teaches my son to stuff his feelings. I want to teach him the benefits of expression and vulnerability.

I recently heard the tail end of conversation my son had with one of his best friends,”…sounds good, dude. See you in a little bit. I love you.” He is 17 years old and telling his friend he loves him…THAT is vulnerability. I never did that at his age.

The complement was a testament to the influence I strive to teach my kid, and I couldn’t be more proud. As parents, we must be doing something right.

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