Day 19: Practice vulnerability

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Welcome to Day 19 of Confidence Boot Camp! Today we are going to delve into an aspect of vulnerability that many of us sometimes struggle with, but hate to admit. That is the need to always be “right.” This need, or what we may think of as need, can cause all kinds of complications for ourselves in our relationships. This topic falls into the Cognitive domain of The Chemistry of Confidence.
Needing or wanting to be right, or believing that we are right, is something that most of us can relate to on some level. Who doesn’t want to feel or believe that the way we see an issue is correct? Most of us can recognize that we aren’t right all the time, and therefore are willing to listen to other people’s viewpoints and ideas. Some people have more difficult time, truly believing that they are right all or most of the time. Why do we struggle with this, and what does it have to do with vulnerability?



 Dr. Brené Brown, researcher and bestselling author, describes vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” What does that really mean? The dictionary defines vulnerability simply as “open to attack, either physically or emotionally”. Many of us have an instant negative reaction to the thought of being vulnerable, and we may believe that vulnerable people are weak, insecure, or have low self-esteem. The truth is, we all have vulnerable parts of ourselves, and your vulnerabilities may be different from mine.
For example, I feel vulnerable and insecure when I am on a ski slope. Even though I’ve skied my entire life, I don’t ski very often and therefore never really progressed past being an intermediate skier. Growing up in Salt Lake City, everyone skied and there was a lot of pressure to ski and be good at it. Every Monday morning at school was a one-upmanship show of who had the best ski goggle tan. I remember feeling embarrassed and even ashamed that I couldn’t compete. For one thing, my family couldn’t afford those kinds of extracurricular activities. I was lucky if I skied once or twice a year. I carried that insecurity with me well into my adulthood, until I realized that my vulnerability around that issue had more to do with the shame I felt that my family was not as financially well-off as my peers, than it had to do with my lack of skiing prowess.
Let me now tie this into the need to be right. We can surmise that some people are so ashamed of their “weaknesses” that they cover them up by being “right” all of the time. The problem is, being right all the time turns people off very quickly! These are the people whom we see walking down the hall at work, and we quickly turn around and pretend that we are going somewhere else to avoid conversation with them. These people tend to have little self-awareness, and while they believe that they are pulling off their cover-up, they’re not.
And, let’s face it. It feels good to be right, RIGHT? We feel competent and smart when we are right, and who doesn’t like to feel competent and smart?  But if we’re truly honest, we’ll also admit that we enjoy that feeling of self-satisfaction once in a while. If we want people to like and respect us, or be interested in our opinions and ideas, we need to be okay with not always being right.
Besides reducing our friend pool, being right all the time has other consequences. Think about it. If you are right about everything, then you apparently know everything. If you know everything, then you don’t need to learn anything new. If you don’t need to learn anything new because you already know everything, then you stop growing. If you stop growing, then you die.


How to Practice Not Being Right All the Time

  1. Consider the “big picture” in each of your interactions. Ask yourself: What is my goal with this person or these people? Do I want to develop mutually healthy relationships?  Is my goal to progress in my job or career? Needing to always be right will have a negative effect on each of these goals.
  2. Bite your tongue!  If it turns out you actually were right in a disagreement and the facts prove it so, avoid saying, “I told you so” to the now “wrong” person. The outcome will not be worth the momentary satisfaction you may get when saying it. Instead, tell them you value their point of view and that it made you think and broaden your own views.  Remember how you felt when someone has said to you, “I told you so.”  Not so good, I’ll bet.  Empathy is the most important emotion in guiding our behavior. Tune into your empathy before saying something you might regret later.
  3. Sometimes it is often better to be kind than to prove that you are right. People will trust and respect us more, people will enjoy and like us more, and people will feel that we respect and value them. The strongest and happiest people are those who can admit they are wrong, and they move on, apologizing if the situation warrants it.

Core confidence grows when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and we stand up to conflicts without needing to “win”. Building and maintaining trusting relationships with other people is far more valuable than being “right” all the time. The end result is a HAPPIER LIFE AND HAPPIER RELATIONSHIPS.
Thanks for tuning in today, and we will see you tomorrow for another day of Confidence Boot Camp here at The Villa. Practice, practice, practice!

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