The Vulnerability Hangover

Book Discussion

In Brene Brown's Daring Greatly, she talks about what happens after you allow yourself to be vulnerable. She says, with a little help from Leonard Cohen, "often the result of daring greatly isn't a victory march as much as it is a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little battle fatigue." She sometimes refers to this as the vulnerability hangover.

"You know the feeling when you wake up and everything feels fine until the memory of laying yourself open washes over you and you want to hide under the covers? What did I do?" Page 11

If I do something that scares me -- something that makes me feel vulnerable -- it's a toss-up as to whether I'll worry more about it before I do it or after I've done it. Before I do it, I'll be concerned about doing it right, about giving it my best shot and what that should look like. After I've done it, I'll worry about all the things that I could or should have done differently. Part of that is probably from what Brown calls the "never enough" culture. No one is perfect, but we all seem to demand it from ourselves ... and from each other.

vulnerable heart

Image Credit: Cassandra Kinaviaq Rae on Flickr

The more that I do things that scare me, the more I find out that it does get easier. I gain more confidence. I am a little bit less scared each time. Most importantly, I've discovered whose opinions I really value. Brown carries around a list of names in her wallet of the people who matter to her. Here's a hint: None of them are named "Anonymous."

I suspect that I'll always deal with the vulnerability hangover. To dare greatly and to allow yourself to embrace vulnerability isn't so much about abandoning fear but -- to borrow from Ambrose Redmoon -- to acknowledge that something is more important than that fear. To face that fear and to be vulnerable means that I know that I'm worth the risk. As for those vulnerability hangovers ... that's why they invented bubble baths.

Have you ever experienced a vulnerability hangover? How did you deal with it?

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.


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