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Renee Ballard

Dealing with a vulnerability hangover

The first time I heard the term ‘vulnerability hangover’ was during Brené Brown’s second Ted Talk, ‘Listening to shame’ (if you haven’t seen it, do).

The concept of a vulnerability hangover immediately seared itself into my psyche because I get them all the time, especially from being online. The social media world may be a virtual one, but it still feels like another frontier manage what to share and what not to.

There have been many times where I’ve posted something, and then minutes, hours or sometimes even a day later, I get a resounding internal thwack of ‘my god, what have I done? I should not have posted that!”.

It can be anything from a photo, a selfie, an insight or opinion, but whatever it is, it feels too intimate to be sharing online.

When it comes to dealing with a vulnerability hangover, I don’t have all the answers, but I am an active work in progress in getting them. So far, these are my four tried and tested tools to get through one with minimal hand-wringing and self-shredding.

Step 1

Leave it alone.

If you’ve posted it and you get a pang, rather than check it a million times (the post won’t change, only you will), then leave it alone for a bit. An hour, a day, and see how where the vulnerability goes. Usually it’s just a momentary freak out and your first instinct to post what you did was the right one.

Step 2

Go back in.

If leaving it alone didn’t calm your nerves, then go back in. Go back and look at it again and try to take an objective filter with you as you look. Is the post really too intimate? What would you think if a friend posted it? Most of the time what you posted is fine, we’re just being too self-critical and letting our self-shredding have its head.

Step 3

Consult the board.

This is extreme, but I have two people I go to when I feel like what I’ve posted is inappropriate: Gordon Ramsay and Shane Warne. Ramsay spends a lot time on tv yelling, swearing and mouthing off freely. If he gets a vulnerability hangover, it can’t last long because he gets up the next day and does it all again. If he’s ok with it, then surely my selfie post is ok too.

Shane Warne is my roundhouse, nuclear, vulnerability hangover obliterator. He’s a very famous Australian cricketer and he has a reputation for living large. I remember years ago footage came out of him roaming around a hotel room, in his underpants, with two women, also in their underpants. I don’t know much else about the incident, but I do remember thinking if that happened to me, I would die of humiliation. But not only did he not die of humiliation, he’s gone on to have at least a dozen tv and radio shows since. If Shane Warne can dust himself off after that, then again, my selfie doesn’t seem so outrageous after all.

Step 4

If you’ve done all of the above, and that feeling of horror is still sitting in your tummy, then go in and delete it. Even if people have seen it, liked it, commented on it, delete it. No one will really know and that’s one of the perks of a virtual world, there’s always a delete button.

If only I could get one of those installed in the ‘real world’ too!

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