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Is being vulnerable a weakness or a strength?
A narcissist is convinced of their infallibility and this self-belief gives them great confidence. This can be a strength of course and is necessary to some degree in order to lead others.
When writing Mind Minders I undertook significant research into narcissism. This is a popular term in psychology used to define bullies, those with over-bearing, dominating behaviours.
It resonated while reading on this topic, that our traditional male role model demands a certain level of narcissistic behaviour, including denying being vulnerable. When you think about it, we train our men, in western society, to be decisive and unemotional yet we permit women to be the opposite. Interesting.
It seems to me that narcissism and vulnerability have an important relationship.
If you are afraid of appearing vulnerable, it can cause you to go to extraordinary lengths to make sure you do not appear so. This can often be at the expense of others close to you. For example, if you don’t want to admit you did something wrong, a common reflex is to apportion blame to someone else. If you project blame on to someone else, you are absolved. It’s my observation that we can be really good at tricking ourselves and actually even convincing ourselves that the blame deserves to rest on another party. Tragic for the other party of course, particularly if they are not afraid of being vulnerable and therefore might be just that little bit too willing to take on the mantra of the blame.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this is at the root of much abuse that takes place in Australian households.
But how do we break the cycle? Is vulnerability bad? Can you be a strong, decisive leader AND be willing to appear vulnerable at times?
I believed, when I set out on the research path, that narcissistic behaviour was a camouflage for insecurity … the greater the insecurity the greater the camoflage of self-belief. I explored this in depth in one of my characters in Mind Minders.
It seems to me, if we are willing to be vulnerable, admit our mistakes, admit our short falls, then this is a starting point for self-learning and change. It has to be a good thing. In fact I would go so far as to say that vulnerability is an essential ingredient for any healthy relationship. If one party in a relationship refuses to be vulnerable, then won’t this always present a barrier to communication and conflict resolution?
I believe being willing to be vulnerable at times is essential for a healthy prosperous life.
For more on this topic, check out … Brene Brown, Vulnerability