How to Deal with a Vulnerability Hangover

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” - Brené Brown

A few months ago, I wrote an article for a pretty big publication and it just went live this week.

Almost immediately after the editor emailed me with the link, I started to feel it come on: the vulnerability hangover.

It’s that intense, suffocating feeling of, “OMFG, what did I do?!”, followed by a spiraling thought process of how can I hide away in a dark, hidden cave for the rest of my life and never come out?

Vulnerability hangovers are the immediate backlash you might experience from doing something you are terrified to do, something that requires courage and risk, but you know will move you forward on your path. (Kudos to Brene Brown for explaining this so well in her epic Ted Talk on vulnerability and sharing her own truth.) Vulnerability hangovers can come after you do something big and life-changing, like quitting your job or breaking up with your significant other, or from something more routine and regular, like posting something personal on Facebook or telling your sister what you really think about her new haircut.

Similar to a regular drinking hangover, vulnerability hangovers suck.

But here’s the thing: these moments of raw and painful vulnerability are key for your growth.

We need to go through these uncomfortable feelings in order to expand our comfort zone to a new level, to break through to the next barrier in our own personal growth, AND, ultimately, to remind those who are watching/listening/following us on the sidelines to know they’re not alone in their own feelings of vulnerability.

When you share your truth with the world and expose yourself in a vulnerable way, you give others permission to do the same. And that, my friends, is what allows us to all be a little bit freer.

I remember when I gave my notice at my corporate job earlier this year. I knew I had to do it and that every cell in my body was calling me to commit to running my business full-time. But I was terrified. I had a very real vulnerability hangover the entire evening/next day after that initial conversation with my manager. Looking back at it now, I see how I needed that experience in order to uplevel to where I’m at today. Not only did it help me on my own path, but that single decision spread a ripple effect to so many people around me - friends, family, peers, and social media followers who shared with me how inspired they were. By hearing about my one courageous act, these people were more called to reflect on the actions they needed to take in their own lives.

You might never know the positive impact you have on others by being vulnerable and sharing your truth, but each time you do, you help others share theirs, too.

If you’re in the midst of making some significant changes in your life, or if you feel called to share your story in a more public way, or if you’re in the courageous process of “leveling up” in your relationship/career/lifestyle, then this is for you. Here are 5 ways to deal with vulnerability hangovers BEFORE THEY EVEN HAPPEN so you can continue to grow on the daily, and NOT get stuck like a deer in headlights when those “What in the world did I just do?!” moments set in.

  1. Prep yo’self.  Daily routines are key to staying in shape mentally and emotionally. Having specific things you do each day - journaling, meditating, exercising, speaking affirmations, tapping, making gratitude lists, etc. - will keep you balanced and focused on what really matters to you... ESPECIALLY during the times when you feel on edge or more vulnerable than normal. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it to stay grounded for when things get shaky.
  2. Assemble your support team. I’m sure you’ve heard that you’re a sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Having people you can call on during times when things are in transition or uncertain is key to moving through it feeling supported and safe. Make a list of the people in your life who you can count on to be there if you need to vent or share how you’re feeling, especially after making some significant life changes.
  3. Cleanse that sh*t out. Imagine the worst possible scenario. I know that might sound counterintuitive, but trust me, it helps. Reflect on what could go wrong... and really feel the emotions that come up there. Journal about it, meditate on it, visualize it. If you still want to do the thing (write the blog post, call the ex, tell that person how you feel, quit the job, book the ticket, etc.) AFTER you’ve visualized all the ways it could go wrong, then you know it’s really worth doing. Makes sense, yeah?
  4. Remember your WHY. Why do you want to do the thing? What’s your underlying purpose or mission in whatever it is that you’re doing? Write it down and hang it up somewhere you’ll see it every day. Record a voice memo for yourself. Journal about why you want to do whatever it is you’re about to do. Remember and reflect on your why regularly to remind yourself of the intention behind your actions.
  5. Plan some self-care time. In case things do feel crazy heavy, schedule some time to decompress and get back to baseline. Book a massage, schedule a float tank therapy session (I swear by these!!!), go on a short solo trip to your favorite staycation spot, book a quick weekend getaway with a girlfriend. Do something that will take your mind off the action you just took and will let you process whatever feelings come up in a safe, supportive way. Give yourself permission to fully feel whatever it is that you’re feeling, without judgment or needing to rush through it. By allowing yourself to fully process your emotions, they will come and go much more naturally than if you try to resist/push away anything.

I hope these tips help you feel more balanced and rooted in times of vulnerability and transformation. Remember that vulnerability is supposed to feel uncomfortable... it’s a consequence of pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones. But from discomfort, comes tremendous growth - so keep your head up and your heart open.

With sooo much love,

Lauren <3