Why Vulnerability Can Be So Attractive - The Atlantic
Over the past year, visitors to the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City have been revealing their deepest fears and wishes. As part of a special exhibit, museum-goers were invited to write down their secrets on small pieces of vellum paper and hang the entries on a wall for everyone to see. On one side, people posted their anxieties; on the other side, their hopes. Thousands of visitors contributed lines like, “I’m anxious because I’m afraid I’ll die alone,” “I’m anxious because I might miss my chance to become a mom,” and “I’m hopeful because life is beautiful and I will feel happy soon.”
This exhibit, A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful, which was on view from February 2018 until earlier this week, was a catalog of anonymous confessions, a place where people willingly exposed their weaknesses and flaws: “I’m anxious because I don’t have a home for my boys”; “I’ve relapsed three times since trying to become sober”; “I feel like I disappoint everyone in my life.” These more than 50,000 entries expressed thoughts that many people wouldn’t otherwise share publicly due to fear of rejection and shame.
But psychological research suggests that such fear can be overblown in people’s minds. Often, there’s a mismatch between how people perceive their vulnerabilities and how others interpret them. We tend to think showing vulnerability makes us seem weak, inadequate, and flawed—a mess. But when others see our vulnerability, they might perceive something quite different, something alluring. A recent set of studies calls this phenomenon “the beautiful mess effect.” It suggests that everyone should be less afraid of opening up—at least in certain cases. Continue reading at The Atlantic….