Emotional Intelligence Social

Vulnerability: A misunderstood strength

vulnerabilidad fortaleza

I remember an anecdote from my childhood that perfectly illustrates the importance of vulnerability . When I was about 6 years old, I ran across a street to go to my father who was on the other side. I did it along the straightest line that I saw was viable, without looking for other types of dangers, without looking to see if cars were coming. They ran over me. My father ran out to pick me up and the driver got out of the car to help me. It was a pedestrian crossing, but I crossed without feeling any type of vulnerability, without feeling risk, hastily.

Being vulnerable does not mean being weak

That experience taught me an invaluable lesson: vulnerability is not synonymous with weakness . On the contrary, it is a strength that allows us to recognize our limitations, ask for help, observe, reflect and learn from our mistakes. However, in today’s society, vulnerability is often misunderstood and seen as a sign of fragility. Contrary to what it may seem, from my point of view, injecting our young people with this feeling that they can do anything and that nothing is going to happen to them is a strategy of media manipulation that is constantly established through messages on social networks that block critical thinking and reflection on what surrounds us.

| Related article: The illusion of invulnerability: why do we believe we are immune to everything?

For this reason, young people are more susceptible to falling into this type of problems of social pressure and influence: because they come standard with a principle of invulnerability that they manage over the years with their maturity. And yet, adults also have a hard time understanding this correctly. One of the immediate effects of thinking that being vulnerable makes us weak, instead of strong, is that expectations are created above reality, which generates low tolerance for frustration , low self-esteem and other types of emotional mismanagement problems. not seeing ourselves capable of achieving what we are supposed to be told we are capable of doing. Rebound effect.

Invulnerability as a method of media manipulation

The media sometimes present a distorted image of reality, where invulnerability becomes an unattainable ideal. Invincible heroes, famous people without flaws, perfect lives, millionaire people without effort, or the pressure to be the most handsome, the one with the most money or the best in every way, are recurring examples. Surely you have seen on a social network such as Tik Tok or Instagram some videos of people exposing these types of ideals in their lives. This idealization of invulnerability has an impact on society, especially on youth, who can be affected in the following ways:

  • Social pressure: Young people may feel pressure to conform to this ideal, which can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
  • Lack of realistic references: The absence of behavioral models with vulnerabilities and errors can make it difficult to develop one’s own and realistic identity.
  • Difficulty facing adversity: By not being prepared for reality, where failure and difficulty are inevitable, young people may have fewer tools to face life’s challenges.

This feeling of being invulnerable generates in people the false need to pay attention to someone who immediately indicates a solution to their problems. That is, they have created a problem that generally does not exist, so that from there a savior (person or thing) emerges to alleviate that need to be the best; and this is one of the basic principles of media manipulation . On top of all this, promising instant reinforcement, practically without effort involved, which is why we now talk about a society of immediacy. We no longer know how to postpone success or base it on our own work and effort, thus strengthening our own internal motivation, and not basing it on an external motivation or promise; but this would be thematic source for another article on human motivation (the real one).

Vulnerability vs. Invulnerability

Vulnerability is a natural emotional state that allows us to connect with our deepest emotions and needs. It is the ability to open ourselves to others without fear of being judged or rejected. On the other hand, invulnerability is a misperception that we often find in youth. Children and adolescents, in their eagerness to explore the world, feel invincible. They ignore the risks and believe that nothing bad can happen to them. This false sense of security can lead them to make serious mistakes, to be more influenced and manipulated by others.

Another example that I usually give in my classes is that if we did not feel vulnerability we could play on the edge of a 100 meter high cliff, without fear of falling, without reviewing the safety measures or without asking about possible risks. And we already know what can happen if we are not able to feel vulnerable to falling: that we fall. To know that children feel more invulnerable regarding this example, you only need to imagine a child on a sidewalk walking with his family. It is quite likely that the child, by his very nature, is playing on the curb of the sidewalk. Because children play and have to continue playing, but they must also be guided to learn before being run over.

It is not that it is an extreme vulnerability, it must also be in the right measure, but if we do it correctly we will be able to contemplate the views that the cliff offers us in a safer way and that will also serve to modulate our management of the fear of coherent manner.

Vulnerability as a strength

Far from being a weakness, vulnerability is a fundamental tool for personal growth. By accepting our own vulnerability, we can:

  • Learn from mistakes: The experience of failing, undoubtedly painful, allows us to identify our areas of improvement and develop new strategies to achieve our goals.
  • Be more authentic and connect with others: By showing ourselves as we are, without masks or pretensions, we create deeper and more meaningful relationships with the people around us. The very ability to feel vulnerable in the face of an emotional situation will make us express it and that in itself will be a help to overcome it. There is nothing wrong with crying coherently about a problem, you are not weaker for doing so. However, we all know that society that has been created around not expressing these types of feelings, which creates armor in people who then find it difficult to express themselves when they really need help, simply by not appearing “vulnerable.” Which is not bad!
  • Develop empathy and compassion: The ability to recognize our own vulnerabilities allows us to better understand the needs and emotions of others. As we are able to understand ourselves in our own weaknesses, we will also be better able to understand others which enhances our emotional intelligence.
  • Overcome fears and face challenges: By exposing ourselves to what scares us, in a controlled environment and with the right support, we can develop self-confidence and overcome our limitations.
  • Improve critical thinking: I always put a lot of emphasis on promoting this type of thinking to avoid being manipulated or falling into behaviors, for example, of an addictive type. By feeling vulnerability we also activate a more reflective and less automatic thinking mechanism that makes us make better decisions, or more importantly, autonomous and own decisions, based on the information we have or even makes us learn to manage information better. , to know which one has the best reference source for our daily decisions.

Strategies to teach young people to understand vulnerability

It is essential that children and adolescents learn to understand vulnerability from an emotional perspective so that this education creates people who improve their emotional self-management, self-motivation, and conflict resolution more efficiently:

  1. Emotional education at home and school:
  • Implement emotional education programs that teach children and adolescents to identify and manage their emotions.
  • Help them understand the importance of vulnerability as a natural part of being human.
  • Provide them with tools to deal with difficult emotions in a healthy way.
  1. Encourage open and honest communication:
  • Create a family and school environment where young people feel safe to express their emotions and experiences without being judged.
  • Listen to them with attention and empathy, without minimizing their feelings.
  • Validate their emotions and help them find solutions to their problems.
  1. Expose them to vulnerable role models:
  • Show them examples of successful people who have recognized and accepted their vulnerabilities.
  • Share stories of personal improvement where vulnerability has played a positive role.
  • Help them identify inspiring figures who show that strength is not defined by invulnerability.
  1. Promote the development of critical thinking:
  • Teach them to analyze the information they receive critically and reflectively.
  • Help them discern between reality and the idealization present in the media.
  • Promote the ability to question and debate ideas to build your own criteria.
  1. Create safe spaces for expression and learning:
  • Implement workshops, support groups or activities where young people can share their experiences and learn from their mistakes.
  • Give them a space where they feel comfortable to be vulnerable without fear of being ridiculed.
  • Encourage the building of positive and supportive relationships between young people.
  1. Be a model of authentic vulnerability:
  • As adults, it is important to show young people that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness.
  • Share our own experiences of vulnerability and how we have overcome them.
  • Be honest and transparent in our relationships with young people.

One of the things I am most proud of is being able to give talks and workshops on these topics in schools and institutes. The other day I started counting how many I had and I have already exceeded 500 talks! And let them continue. It seems essential to me to be able to bring this knowledge to the youngest people so that they learn to think better, decide better and generate more emotional and communicative skills, which will undoubtedly be the best prevention of future problems; and once again thanks to feeling vulnerable correctly and actively.

Talks about critical thinking

If you want to learn more about critical thinking and applied emotional intelligence, from the point of view of psychology, do not hesitate to contact me, or any psychologist specialized in the subject.


Iván Pico

Director y creador de Psicopico.com. Psicólogo Colegiado G-5480 entre otras cosas. Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales y Máster en Orientación Profesional. Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y Organizaciones. Posgrado en Psicología del Deporte entre otras cosas. Visita la sección "Sobre mí" para saber más. ¿Quieres una consulta personalizada? ¡Escríbeme!

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