Category: Personal Development Written by Evelyn Lim
Vulnerability hangover is the regret, anxiety and shame that you feel after having exposed vulnerable parts about yourself to others.
Enough was enough, you had said. You decided that you were quite done with hiding. And so, even as your heart raced, you proceeded with boldly sharing something vulnerable about yourself. With a trembling voice, you went through your story. You shared it from deep within your heart.
The moment you let it out, you heaved a sigh of relief. The burden of keeping it all in was lifted. It was also when you gave yourself a pat on the back for your courage and congratulated yourself for being more authentic and daring greatly.
But wait a minute!!! As the dust settled, you began to compute what you’ve just done. Filled with regret, you started to shame yourself for such a stupid move. Feeling vulnerable about being vulnerable hit you in waves of nausea. You became sick to the stomach over the thought that others might ridicule you or reject you.
Well, in case you don’t know what had just taken place, there is one apt phrase that describes the phenomena: Vulnerability Hangover.
I have experienced vulnerability hangover many times. Despite thinking that I would absolutely die from shame with each confession episode, none of the awful scenarios I imagined took place. For instance, no one criticised me for publishing a vulnerable post. The wonderful thing is that I am still alive, and I continue to post vulnerable things about myself (such as this article) online.
Do allow me to share my surviver guide to vulnerability hangover in this post.
What is a Vulnerability Hangover?
We all know what a hangover is.
It usually arises after excessive alcohol consumption. A hangover refers to a set of adverse symptoms that occur as a consequence of drinking too much. We would find ourselves experiencing fatigue, weakness, thirst, headache, muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain, vertigo, irritability, sweating, and/or increased blood pressure. I can still recall the days when I experience hangovers after a night of partying at the club, as a young adult.
But what about a Vulnerability Hangover?
A vulnerability hangover is also about the aftermath. In the case of a vulnerability hangover, it is the aftermath from having exposed something vulnerable about yourself. You experience a set of reactions in consequence that are both psychological and physical.
For a start, it could be that you’ve experienced something that is shameful or embarrassing in the past. Or it could be some imperfection or secret that you prefer to hide from others. But after some time, you found the courage to finally share it.
It may be that you not only share it privately but also chose to post about it publicly. However, in a turnaround after publishing your vulnerable story, you wish that you weren’t so hasty. The symptoms you experience may include anxiety, weakness, light-heartedness or dizziness. Shame takes over.
Dr Brené Brown defines vulnerability hangover as the gut-wrenching feeling of shame and fear that pops right after we undertake an emotional risk. Indeed, it can feel as if our lives are at stake if we are to share something vulnerable about ourselves. No one likes to be perceived as weak, helpless, or imperfect. We are afraid that people will reject or ridicule us because of our vulnerability.
My Experience with Vulnerability Hangovers
It started with writing articles. I recall the first time after sharing something vulnerable about myself online. For quite some time, I did not dare read what I had posted. My eyes would burn whenever I thought about the post where I had shamelessly shared about my previous dating failures. Fortunately, when I finally plucked the courage to review my post, I found out that it attracted great response.
Then, I proceeded to publishing videos. I took the step of boldly sharing vulnerable stories when recording them. As the critic of my own videos, I consider some of them rather cringeworthy. You can find them on my YouTube, FB page or Instagram LOL!
Well, I realised that I had two choices with each vulnerability hangover. The first option is to delete the post and pray very hard that no one has seen it. The second option is not to delete the video but to work through shame. I decided to do the latter.
How to Heal Yourself from a Vulnerability Hangover
If you are with me, I’d like to share how you can handle shame in 3 ways. They are as follows…
- Work through letting go of shame and any fear of rejection. You can do this with EFT tapping or any other emotional healing method. This is a great opportunity for you to practice empathy.
- Normalise vulnerability hangover. Recognise that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but an an act of courage and innate strength for having taken a risk.
- Align with your goals of wanting to create connection through your vulnerable stories. Remember: the more you put yourself out there, the more you increase your ability to connect with your audience. You are showing up with authentic courage!
I started out by not being able to review all or anything that I’ve posted vulnerably. What I have observed is that as I work through shame, I have increased my ability to go back and read my written posts or to replay some of my old videos – without flinching. I consider this progress!
Hope this article is of help to you in working through vulnerability hangover.
Let me know if vulnerability hangover is something you experience in the comments box below.
Emotional Healing Coach
Accredited EFT Practitioner
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