“Vulnerability asks you to soften your ego so we can see your soul.”
– Sasha Tozzi
To Post or Not to Post?
I wake up at home in my bed in the early hours Monday morning. Jeff is still asleep beside me.
The questions begin popping up in my mind: should I delete Monday’s blog post about our fight before it hits the air?
- Am I saying too much in it?
- Am I being too vulnerable?
- Will it look like our marriage is in trouble when it’s not?
This anxious feeling we may get after taking an emotional risk has been coined a “Vulnerability Hangover” by Dr. Brené Brown. I get one after I’ve divulged something quite personal.
I start worrying I overshared in the blog post. At the least, I don’t want to be misunderstood if I didn’t communicate clearly enough, and at the most, I don’t want to be hurt in a backlash caused from my own words.
Vulnerability Is Courageous
In our culture, vulnerability can be equated with weakness. It can leave us feeling exposed and unprotected.
But in reality, Brené Brown says that,
“Vulnerability is having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerabiilty is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
It just doesn’t always feel that way in the middle of a vulnerability hangover.
Yet emotional vulnerability is like a magnet; it draws us together. When we share more of ourselves with each other, the closer we become.
I know I feel closer to people when they let their guard down and open up to me. Instead of thinking less of them for mistakes they share or embarrassing moments they relay, I feel honored that they trust me with their stories.
Their vulnerability reminds me they’re human, too.
Yet I sometimes hold myself to a higher standard than other people. That’s silly. I’m just as human as everybody else. Of course I am. I don’t have to be a Superhuman or a Superchristian or a Superwife. I can just be me. I can try my best, but my best doesn’t have to be (and never is) far and above everybody else.
We all have good days. And we all have bad days. Sometimes we’re kind to people we meet; sometimes we’re a bear. Sometimes we can’t get enough of our spouse. Other times we argue.
It’s not just me who gets in “disagreements” with people I love.
We’re all the same.
Exercise Your Vulnerability Muscle
The clock now shines 5 a.m. Monday morning. Instead of pulling out my computer, I stay in bed. I don’t revoke the post I’ve been questioning. I let it roll on into the world.
I ask Jeff later to read the post to make sure he’s okay with it. He is. I tell him again how much I love him. He really is the right man for me.
Granted, we have to learn who we can be vulnerable with and who we can’t. Some people aren’t equipped or desirous enough to appropriately handle our truths. Thankfully I have a safe spouse. He’s earned my vulnerability by proving he can be trusted.
In this year with my One Word: Human, I’m grateful for this human I get to live with. And that he still prefers to live with me above anyone else.
Yet even with him, I can still get a vulnerability hangover if I feel I’ve shared too much of myself.
Dr. Emma Seppala says that living with the aftereffects of vulnerability “requires courage initially, but then it’s like this muscle you build.”
Being vulnerable—i.e., allowing myself to show up as fully human—is a muscle I want to keep exercising. And maybe one day I’ll outgrow it’s hangover.
If that’s humanly possible.
Do you ever get a vulnerability hangover, too? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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- The Two Things Your Friendships Need to Survive (And Vulnerability Is One of Them)
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- 6 Notes to Myself Before Our Next Fight
- 5 Words to Keep Her Free