We’ve all been here. There. We shared from the depths of our souls. Our fears. Our worries. Our hopes. Our dreams.
In the sharing, we were effusive, euphoric, unbridled, and even, dare I say it? Emotional*.
Because, I mean, it felt so good in that moment.
Walking around so guarded all the time is exhausting. So letting your guard down and letting loose felt so…right. Both reckless and safe at the same time. So…intoxicating. So you shared one.more.thing.
And then, you felt the surge of heat in your cheeks, the room started to spin and you had to bid a hasty retreat from the conversation.
Or possibly worse, you leave feeling euphoric, only to wake up in a puddle of your insecurities the next day. "Oh hell! Why did I share that?” “What was I thinking?” and worse “What must THEY be thinking now about ME?”
You think you said too much. You think you were too much.
You, my friend, are sore eyeballs deep into what has been called the “vulnerability hangover” (term coined by the Queen Bee of Vulnerability, Dr. Brené Brown.)
Totally been there.
As a chronic hugger of strangers, the first one to say I love you, an over-sharer by nature and a woman living inside a desire to live so fully that most of her filters have been removed, I get it.
Oh yes indeed.
Brown posits that if you don’t feel any vulnerability hangover, then maybe you didn’t go far enough.
Could be. I’m not sure about that, myself. But I get the (deep) thinking behind it.
But if we’re going to use vulnerability hangovers as a metric of courage, here’s a super quick survival guide. I’ll tell you what I do, then what NOT to do. Take what you need, turf the rest.
Deep breath. Here we go.
First of all:
You will survive this.
You will absolutely survive this.
Anyone who has swung out and risked sharing what was true has experienced this. AND? Survived.
Simple. Just hydrate. No tricks. Just drink water. (You aren’t drinking enough, you know.)
kəmˈpaSHən, āt/ verb
As in, fire compassion beams on yourself. Be kind. Be gentle.
You shared because you had a full tank of thoughts and feelings and sadness and joy and despair and whatever else you had and were looking to connect with someone. Maybe with several someones.
You needed that. We all need that. So beating yourself up is no good.
And then beating up on yourself for beating up on yourself?
Find the same compassion for yourself that you would a sweet little girl who told her crush that his eyes were nice and now feels awash in shame for her confession.
Recognizing that the impulse beneath the sharing was connection (it was, trust me), where else can you get this need met in a way that will not send you to bed, dizzy and wanting to hide because you are flushed with hot panic? What’s another way forward? Who can you surround yourself with?
Because what I worry about is this: if you endure one too many vulnerability hangovers, you just may stop showing up. Caring. Sharing.
And Honey? We cannot have that.
Listen. We are living in a messed up time.
People walking around believing that guns are keeping people safe. There is actually a NEED to have hashtags like #blacklivesmatter. (This brings tears to my eyes.) The unbelievably messed up legacy of residential schools in Canada. (So does this.) Politicians politicizing climate change. Reality TV asshats who believe that walls are the answer. Social media filled with snark at best and hatred and vitriol at worst. Children afraid of their pillows because they think they are the cause of the raids upon their hometown. H/t to the luminary Carmen Spagnola who shared this on her FB page with this rallying cry:
“And that's when I start thinking to myself, I'll tell you what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life: Burn the master's fucking house down.”
It is time to say what needs to be said. Now more than ever.
We can’t have you in bed not saying what needs to be said because you are afraid of the repercussions of a vulnerability hangover. (Click to tweet.)
I’m scared. I know you are too.
Please don’t apologize for feeling the depths of your experience. Don’t apologize for expressing the depths of your experience. And don’t stop sharing what needs to be shared.
It’s time for humanity. Not immunity. And certainly not silence. (Click to tweet.)
I repeat: we’ve got work to do.
* A note about coaching. With ANYONE.
I’m always amazed when a new client apologizes for being emotional in a session. Worrying about what I’ll think.
It’s an epidemic…worrying about how we’ll react to each other.
People…I’m a professional.
THIS is what I do. This is what ALL coaches do.
All that deep-listening and ideation and strategy and compassion and, and, and are God-given gifts that I nurture and tend to. No doubt.
SELF-MANAGEMENT is the skill I paid 10’s of thousands of dollars and spent thousands of hours mastering.
So bring it. Bring the mess. Bring the tears. Bring what you think is a shit show.
I’ve got it all. I’ve got you.
That’s my job. That’s ALL coaches' jobs.
We’ll find your way forward. Because we are going to need your voice, at top level. We’re going to need your arms, your heart, your soul and all that you have got if we’re going to turn this thing around.
With love and raised fist,