The majority of us have experienced feeling exposed while expressing our emotions. A heartfelt birthday card that we regret spending time on as soon as it is given, a poem or Instagram post that was written with wholehearted emotion but feels too raw once published or shared are just a few examples of the things we may have silently chided ourselves for doing on a date or at a dinner party. In most cases, when something like this happens, we experience regret and feel bad for oversharing.
Being a “extroverted” introvert, I feel the desire to establish stronger relationships while maintaining constant control over my surroundings. This makes it challenging for me to share my personal opinions and experiences. Every time I create an essay or blog post and make it public for everyone to see, it’s the same. My vulnerability hangover is the need to scream, “Aarghh! When I reflect back on a situation where I felt emotionally exposed, I say to myself, “What did I do?” or “What was I thinking?!” out loud. In addition to being mentally draining, a vulnerability hangover can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on how risky the revelation or sharing was seen to be. Although the primary goals of sharing are to build relationships and get support, the vulnerability aftereffect leaves us wishing we had held back on sharing a particular aspect of ourselves or that we could go back in time and take back the decision that now causes us to doubt ourselves.
If vulnerability hangovers aren’t the end of the world, one would wonder why we have such hesitation and fear when it comes to exposing ourselves. Most of the time, we experience vulnerability because, as we open up to others in order to forge meaningful connections, we run the risk of being judged and rejected.
Yes, vulnerability hangovers can lead to regret and embarrassment, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put yourself in vulnerable positions. In fact, Dianne Grande, a registered clinical psychologist, emphasizes that establishing bonds requires emotional openness. Our lives can be improved by accepting vulnerability as an act of bravery rather than seeking to numb it, which is our natural impulse. You can live a life without regret by overcoming vulnerability, and the following are some practical solutions for any potential emotional hangovers:
1. Identify your feelings and emotions
The most reliable method to get over a vulnerability hangover is to be aware of the emotions that make you feel vulnerable and to understand the underlying causes, despite the fact that this may seem paradoxical. It can be unnerving at first because it requires you to be extremely self-aware even as you are letting go. Start by carefully identifying the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors that cause reactions that seem to leave you with a vulnerability hangover.
2. Adjust your perspective and reconsider the scenario
Zooming out or taking a step back in your mind and reevaluating the situation is another useful technique for putting an end to worrying and eradicating the dread of criticism and embarrassment from your mind. Are you imagining that someone would evaluate you for the opinions you voiced or are they actually evaluating you for them?
Acceptance can help you get ready for all the possibilities. There is a potential that your ideas will be disregarded or that you may lose your job for asking for a promotion at work, but if you approach them with objectivity, there is also a chance that you will succeed in your original goals.
3. Define your ‘why’ and set mental reminders
One of the reasons I keep writing and telling my stories is to connect with people who, like me, feel vulnerable when talking about their own challenges, whether they’re trying to lose weight, get in better shape, get stronger, eat better, or discover happiness via thankfulness. For some people, being vulnerable might feel like stirring up a hornet’s nest, which can cause discomfort or even worry. For this reason, it’s crucial that you understand why you decided to take the risk in the first place.
You may remind yourself of why you need to put yourself out there and break through mental barriers of shame and guilt by writing down your dreams and then breaking them down into SMART goals. Being vulnerable exposes me to risk, but I keep reminding myself that my ultimate goal is to live a happy, meaningful life with authenticity.
4. Find your safe space
Sometimes, it’s necessary for us to just unburden our mental load to be able to feel heard and supported, and to pave the way forward. However, some discretion is advised. In the words of Dr Brown, “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: Who has earned the right to hear my story?”
The most stable method to recover from a vulnerability hangover is to be aware of the feelings that make you feel vulnerable and to understand the underlying causes, despite the fact that this may seem paradoxical.
As was previously mentioned, self-disclosure is a complex process that should be carried out with a certain goal in mind. Finding your “tribe” or gaining new friends by being completely honest with those around you is a satisfying result that makes overcoming shame and guilt worthwhile.
5. Change your self-talk
In fact, with social media constantly intruding into our private lives, it’s simple to feel condemned or rejected for even the smallest details you disclose from your private life. You can avoid falling into the perfection trap by learning to accept flaws in both yourself and others. This will free you up to stop brooding and start acting, even if it makes you feel vulnerable. Also, developing self-compassion helps us perceive empathy as the cure for shame, which makes it simpler to recover from a vulnerability hangover.
6. Keep it up till you feel more comfortable sharing
“I wouldn’t establish a Museum of Great Daring. When asked if she would construct a significant edifice where she could exhibit the greatest risks she had ever taken and what she would display there, Dr. Brown responded, “I would found a Museum of Epic Failure.” A vulnerability hangover can be overcome by developing shame resilience, which focuses on the emotions that have the opposite impact of shame, such as joy, connection, empathy, confidence, etc. You can start seeing vulnerability as a necessary aspect of growth once you accept that growth comes from a position of discomfort and failures rather than a place of ease.