Lack of vulnerability is one reason why team relationships are so dysfunctional. The lack of trust leads to people putting on their “persona” (the root word in ‘personality’) masks. In our culture, vulnerability is confused with the concept of weakness.

I’ve got news for you—vulnerability is anything but weak. I know this from personal experience. Early in life I started out as passive (yes, me!). I was quite the timid one. Once I was able to get beyond kindergarten, I begin to seek my voice as I have a natural tendency to lean toward extroversion, as long as I have some introversion time for myself as well, that is. The concise story here is that eventually, due to a combination of my experiences and perceptual tendencies, I started to see the world as competitive and hostile.

I started to mistrust and fear my feelings, and I made up my mind not to be vulnerable because I was taught like most people that this was ‘weakness’. In truth, I was afraid. In fact, I went overboard to hide my fear and became somewhat aggressive and controlling whenever I thought I needed to protect myself or my point of view. Now, here are 5 lessons that I learned:

Feelings are based in our perception. We assign the meaning to what happens and then the feelings follow and create our response or reality. Science now aligns with this.

My point of view is not objective in general. It is the world according to me. By the way, that is true for you also! Science shows reality is subjective.

I was terrified to feel (which is why we pretend we are invulnerable), and this state of mind kept me stuck and ineffective. You can run but you cannot hide. Actually, feelings are an “Emotional Guidance System” to help you to perceive what you are thinking about your experience. If you really want to be powerful, make friends with them and you will be better able to manage them with ease. When you see them as a part of being alive, you can stop repressing them and making them scary. Being afraid is an illusion, like the boogeyman under the bed.

People don’t stay with leaders they fear. There is no heart engagement and no loyalty. In fact, watch your back if you are a bossy leader. Sabotage is an effect of disengagement.

It takes courage, confidence, and fear-less-ness (less fear) to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is essentially about authenticity and no need to pretend that one knows it all. It’s about being comfortable with your True Self and allowing space for growth and innovation. This is what real power is all about.

Some of the benefits of applying my insights have been more influence of team members, more ease in connecting to people personally and professionally, very rare negative self-talk (self-compassion is also powerful), more ease in course correction and admitting mistakes, more confidence, better EQ, and less criticism of others. People respond best to inspiration, not motivation. “Be the change you want to see in the world, as Ghandi said.

In our society that is full of people ignoring their inner feelings, wounds, and stories, it takes courage to call out the elephant in the room. What’s this? It’s our denial about what is going on that people don’t want to face. For one thing, it’s the fact that most people are afraid to feel. We have created a mental perception, a story, that feelings are bad.

Doing this is like the research that shows that pain is in the head. It is our perception, our story about the pain that makes it more intense. This is true about our feelings also. It’s not what happens to us as much as it is the meaning we assign to it. Once we assign the meaning, our body records it at a cellular memory level—just as you originally perceived it. Even if it was 30 years ago!

So some keys to letting go of hiding vulnerability are to be found in the above lessons that I learned. Understanding how to use the new neuroscience in a way that is user-friendly and relevant and that engages the logical mind will make it a whole lot easier than trying to force vulnerability on people, that’s for sure.

Author's Bio: 

Valencia Ray, M.D. teaches business owners and corporate leaders how their amazing brain can actually hijack personal power -- not in the abstract, but in the context of integrating business and personal life. Dr. Ray, a board-certified eye surgeon and medical business owner for over 20 years before selling her practice, shares her own life changing process. By sharing her story, she helps others to expand their vision and learn that by living with purpose and confidence, it is possible to have a more integrated, healthier lifestyle – with less struggle, more inner peace and more abundance.

For more information and to contact her regarding dynamic, inspirational keynotes, trainings in collaborative leadership and team building, entrepreneurship and coaching programs, visit her website at