Someone asked me the other day, “How do you have such courage on camera? I am always blown away by how you’re able to share so vulnerably without compromising your authority.” I have had struggles in the past with knowing how to share openly without oversharing. Sometimes, opening up can compromise your authority. So here’s how to balance vulnerability with authority.
So how do you share without vomiting your insecurities or spilling your guts in a way that erodes trust with those you serve?
I’ve found that the key to balancing being relatable with being an authority is to make peace with whatever I’m sharing. And this is simpler than you think (if not always easy).
There are two steps to Balance Vulnerability with Authority:
- Acknowledge and process your negative feelings
- Own the pieces you did right
Most people don’t fully know how to do the first and then skip the second.
Which means your share feels more like a vent, rant or cry for help. Which might be authentic, but which isn’t going to establish you as any sort of authority or someone to be trusted. You’ll just come across as someone who needs saving or that might be emotionally unstable.
All it takes is owning the experience. Which means I have to feel the negative feelings and acknowledge them without buying into their story.
Eg: If I made a mistake and authentically felt shame or anger, I need to feel those feelings without letting them define me (we teach clients how to do this in my programs because it’s SUCH a foundational skill and most adults have never really been taught how to do this effectively).
Processing my feelings allows me to include really deep details in the stories I tell (watch some of my Instagram reels or TikToks and you’ll see what I mean). It allows me to go where most people would shy away. And it is this that folks receiving the story experience as authenticity. It’s the most attractive quality in the world. I can tell an embarrassing story, and I’m able to have fun with it and not take it seriously because it’s obvious that I’m not hurt by anyone’s shock. I’ve owned and accepted the story. I laugh at myself because I’ve made peace with what I’m sharing.
I spend a lot of time doing the work, integrating, feeling my feelings, and making peace with things I’ve done or felt. This takes the emotional charge out of them so I can share them joyfully and empathetically, and help other people not feel so alone. So many people try to bury their feelings. If you’re still processing something, then sharing it might not be the kind of authority you want. More often than not, you’ll just end up venting. If you want to share more openly, and get vulnerable with your audience, clients, or just with friends, here’s an exercise I use to deal with any lingering, unresolved emotions surrounding certain experiences or moments.
Prompts for Feeling Into Your Vulnerable Stories
Write down “I fear” and then take ten minutes to brain dump everything that comes up.This is a great way to process and let out all those fears and emotions you have around a certain event or topic.
Next, write down “I want” and again write what comes up. Now that you’ve acknowledged your fears and discomfort, you need to ask where you want to end up. Otherwise, you will spiral after the first prompt. So now, ask yourself, what do you want to feel, have, do, be?
The last prompt begins with “I know.” These three prompts have to be sequenced this way otherwise you may get gummed up by fear. You need to release the fear and get in touch with what you want first. Then, you tap into your intuition.
I believe that people aren’t able to be authentic because they have some fear clogging them up. They are not in touch with what they really want and they let knowledge compromise their knowing. The wildest innovators, the ones we respect the most, do stuff that nobody knows. They take risks and do things a completely different way.
So then the exercise is about to tap into that courage. It’s not from having the perfect story, or all the answers, or just sharing things that are comfortable. If you’re going to practice vulnerability, you have to get in touch with who you are. What you want, and what you know, so that you aren’t afraid anymore.
This is the practice that will give you the comfort and confidence to share vulnerably. Because you have genuinely made your peace with who you are, your fears, and what you want.