Navigating the vulnerability
Navigating the vulnerability

Navigating the vulnerability hangover

As Brené Brown puts it, “vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage”.

We live in a culture where taking emotional risks can be considered a form of weakness, and when experienced can feel wildly uncomfortable. However, despite the cactus-hugging feels, social research reveals the hugely positive outcomes that emerge from stepping into the arena of vulnerability. It is precisely when we expose ourselves – perhaps in a relationship or at work – that purpose and meaning may find their way into our lives.

So why is it that when we lean into vulnerability, most of us wake up the next day and wonder “why did I share that? what was I thinking?”. If this is you, let’s talk about the vulnerability hangover and how taking brave steps forward can sometimes mean first taking a step back in order to better navigate any feelings of “hangxiety”.

The vulnerability hangover is the application of bravery and the inevitable feelings that come with having stepped into discomfort.

We like to use the mantra, "slow down to speed up".

We like to think about it like this. We often need to slow down to go through something a little tricky to better manage the experience or re-fuel for the journey. Like when a Formula 1 car takes a corner or makes a pit stop. We may need to pause, learn and grow through an experience, and then we take off again, faster and more adequately equipped.

Three tips to help you through vulnerability hangovers:

  1. When we share openly and vulnerably it takes great courage and although we may feel lighter for sharing, we also may also be feeling somewhat drained and vulnerable. Remembering that it’s OK to feel this way and that you don’t need to rush forward but simply be where you’re at. Take time to rest and recharge after a moment of vulnerability.
  2. Once we’ve shared, we might feel the need to charge to the “finish line”. We’ve opened up a vulnerable channel and our instincts are to want to close it. The journey is never linear and often we may feel trapped in a situation because the path forward seems blocked. But sometimes, putting a little distance between you and the obstacle may get you on the other side of it after all. Slowing down or taking a step back, might reveal a new path.
  3. It’s up to us who gets to hear our story. If you’ve opened yourself up to somebody but weren’t met with a response that felt good for you or no longer feel safe to share with that person - you don’t have to continue down that path. If you’ve shared with someone close to you and you’re still feeling vulnerable about the connection, it may help to seek reassurance from your trusted confidant with a simple text or quick call to put help your mind at ease.

“Vulnerability is not about winning or losing, it’s about having the courage to show up and be seen, even when you can’t control the outcome.”