Resilience Self-worth Vulnerability

How to deal with vulnerability hangovers + my source of worthiness

September 14, 2016

Glennon Doyle Melton is making the circuits right now for her book Love Warrior, which I am excited to read in my cushy white bed with some cheese and wine and chocolate, in my clean white room, with no one asking me to do anything. So, I guess I should buy some wine. And… clean my room.

I didn’t like Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness podcast at first. The intro is loud and obnoxious and he kinda over-promotes his stuff in the beginning. He can come across real bro-like, ex-NFL player that he is. But over time, I’ve come to like and respect him a lot. He’s earnest and caring in a way that can be hard for men to be without feeling less masculine, and he seems to understand that social justice is a thing that needs to happen, that “mindset” isn’t everything. Plus, he has some great content.

My respect for him skyrocketed today in three seconds. A few moments before the starting point in the video below (I’ve linked to a later part of the video), he referenced being raped as a child by a man he didn’t know. After sharing this for the first time, in a podcast last year, he experienced a “vulnerability hangover”, as Brené Brown calls them. He asked Glennon, a friend of his who helped him out during that time, what advice she would give to someone experiencing a vulnerability hangover.

She describes two different kinds of pain: Either you can be vulnerable and help some people with what you said while others are annoyed or questioning your authenticity in showing your vulnerability, and that will hurt. This pain is badass. Or, there’s withering, this “slow death, like, ‘I’ve been put on this earth and I’m never going to be who I am?'”

The choice should be obvious. But it’s still scary for people. She says that while vulnerability will be painful if it’s not perfectly received, we just need to stay with it, get in bed, eat our ice cream, and it will pass. It always passes. We focus on the people who receive us lovingly—because if we don’t, we’ll spiral out into insecurity and self-recrimination—and the pain diffuses.

Is that enough, though, I wonder? Does it always pass? Or do people need to have a certain degree of self-worthiness to be able to ride those waves that everyone feels? I think they do.

The people who know me best agree: It is a miracle that I was somehow blessed with nearly always feeling inherently worthy throughout my life, even when I’ve perceived myself to be disliked. I certainly experienced insecurity growing up for a while, wondering what other people thought of me and being uncomfortable about it, but my own opinion of myself has always remained solid: that I’m a good, sincere person, trying my best, and that one day I will be just who I want to be. Because of this, I’ve believed that I’m worthy of forgiveness, love, and belonging. Any flaw of personality has felt temporary and I’ve not let my annoying, embarrassing traits make up my whole identity. When I discover a new crappy or awkward thing about myself, it’s embarrassing for a few minutes or hours, and then I leave that pain as soon as possible by getting excited about how I can change certain things now that I know about them. Since childhood, I’ve known who I am becoming. When other people just see what they can on the surface, I don’t sweat their misperceptions because I see Future Me and I know that they will one day, too. And even if they don’t (usually because they don’t want to), enough people do and they’re all I have time for anyway, so there’s a silver lining in only being seen and understood by some!

To be super clear: I think this is just luck. I don’t feel inherently smarter or superior for my ability to do this. I think it’s a combo of desperation and maybe genetics, not some super conscious wise choice I made one day. Though I don’t know how I wound up with the tools I use, I don’t think that’s necessary to know for others to benefit from them.

I share this because I have more than a couple of friends who are struggling so hard right now with feeling worthy and lovable. My heart is breaking. As they’ve reached out, I’ve felt overwhelmed by how much there is to say and how much I want to say it, but writing is how I think. So, I’m working on an ebook to help.

If you’re caught up in comparing yourself with others, feeling so jealous that it eats at your insides, feeling shame for your flaws, or you have trouble taking risks and being vulnerable, sign up here to be notified when my ebook will be available. It’s what I would say to my children and my very best friends. It’s a project of love.

I am also considering making some guided meditations jam-packed with love and empathy. Would this interest you or someone you know? Let me know in the comments here or on Facebook.


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