Vulnerability and Asking for What You Need

10 07 2014
Image created based on Brene' Brown research. Photo:

Image created based on Brene’ Brown research.

“Asking for what you need is inherently vulnerable,” says Brene’ Brown. “But I think… it’s incumbent upon [us] to reach out and say, I love you, and here’s what I need from you.”

When we think about vulnerability, we think of things like professing your love to someone first, going full swing ahead with a creative and/or business idea, or dealing with a loss and admitting the pain. Things like that.

Or I should say, that’s what I think of when I think of discussing the concept of “being vulnerable.” (I also usually think of pure dread and tend to equate it to jumping into a waterfall head first with no life jacket, but you know that’s just me, and I’m a work in progress.)

The other day, however, I realized something else that should be added to those examples — telling loved ones and potential partners what you need from them… to feel loved, to feel appreciated, to feel wanted, to feel protected, to feel good, to feel acknowledged… whatever.

When you think about it, it makes sense that this would be a completely frightening thing to do for some of us (us meaning I’m totally putting myself in that group).

First, it forces you to admit that you actually need something from someone. For control freaks (or planners, which is just a nice way of saying that), admitting you need something from anyone else is tantamount to crawling over broken glass. Sure we’ll do it if absolutely necessary, say to get out of a burning building, but it’s not something we would ever want to engage in outside of those factors.

Second, it demands that you be honest about what it is that you need, which means bearing your inner thoughts to another person (yes, those quiet thoughts you barely want to admit to even yourself).

More broken glass crawling.

Third, it leaves you open to that person either denying your request or not addressing it with the care in which you would like, which basically gives him or her all the power (at least in your mind).

I mean, for control freaks planners, this is the trifecta of doom right here.

But what I have learned about being honest regarding what you need is that while it is scary and definitely takes being vulnerable, it’s absolutely necessary and freeing, too. Brene’ Brown says that allowing yourself to be vulnerable (even while kicking and screaming like yours truly at first) necessarily frees up your mind from the worry and shame that come from not opening up, and let’s things like joy, creativity, love, and innovation in.

I completely agree with her. And I’m learning that expressing those needs to the ones you love/want to love also invites those people to be able to fulfill them. That’s right, instead of worrying about that person rejecting my need — I’ve tried to focus on the good that can happen when they accept it with their own open arms and then tell me what they need from me as well.

Now, is it as scary frightening as I thought it would be? Heck yes! But it’s also more freeing than I could have ever imagined.

What about you all? Have you ever had a problem asking for what you want/need in your life?




2 responses

10 07 2014

I had to do this like two days ago. I really needed help and I wasn’t sure if the person I asked was going to say yes or even really follow through. The person said yes and they were glad to help. I already feel relief instead of going round and round in my head, knowing full well I don’t have the tools to do this on my own. If I did, I wouldn’t be having the problem. Awesome post, awesome-er timing. I needed to read this TODAY.

Watching people step up for you and show their gifts and talents and abilities is a humbling and awesome experience that allows you to grow your relationship with that person, so it’s a good thing.

10 07 2014

YAY! I’m so glad about the timing of the post and the correlation with your venture into asking for what you need vulnerability!

And yes, isn’t it amazing when you allow people the opportunity to step up and they do it? I also had to realize (and constantly remind myself) that even if they don’t step up, that’s okay too. Because, like you said, I’m not beating myself up in my head, going round and round, and not knowing if he/she would or wouldn’t do it. At the core of it, it’s really about being honest about your needs, and I’m really really trying to work on not having that be dependent on anyone else’s response.

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