️Episode 033 – The Consultant’s Vulnerability Hangover

Have You Ever Experienced a “Vulnerability Hangover”? Most of us have experienced the vulnerability hangover, but we are not aware that we did. The term “Vulnerability Hangover” was coined by Dr. Brené Brown. She defines it as “the gut-wrenching feeling of shame and fear that pops right after we undertake an emotional risk.” It makes us wish that we had never revealed something or that we could go back in time and undo the action that makes us question ourselves after the fact.  This experience is mentally exhausting and can last between a few hours to several days, depending on how risky a revelation you consider it to be. 

As consultants, this experience of the Vulnerability Hangover can be viewed as something to avoid. 

I want to offer that this is a good thing. It’s a way for you to grow past your comfort zone. Any time you put yourself out there and you experience this ‘hangover”, it’s a sign that you’ve embraced growth. In fact, I recommend that you purposefully create situations that make you experience the Vulnerability Hangover. 

The key is to plan ahead to (1) intentionally put yourself in situations that could create a hangover, and thus the more rapid growth of yourself as a business owner and (2) to know how you’ll handle it when it does happen, so you don’t allow it to slow you down.

There are a few effective ways to do this. Listen in to learn more. 

On this episode, I discuss: 
[06:10] How does this concept of Vulnerability Hangover apply to you
[09:48] How do you recognize that Vulnerability Hangover is happening in your business
[12:38] Is Vulnerability Hangover a problem
[15:43] How to rebound from the Vulnerability Hangover space

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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*


Welcome to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. I’m Melisa Liberman, a fellow IC and business coach. On this podcast, I teach you to become a consistently booked independent consultant without becoming a pushy salesperson or working 24/7. If I can do it, you can too, listen on to find out how.


Welcome to the podcast, I’m so happy you’re here today, what we’re going to be talking about is the consultants vulnerability hangover. I’m very excited to share this with you. But also, it is a little bit personal today, too. So, we’re gonna dive into that. What I wanted to start off with is just talking about what is a vulnerability hangover, if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a term that Dr. Brene Brown coined the vulnerability hangover. And it’s basically the way she describes it. I think I’m paraphrasing here, if not copying her directly. So, I definitely wanted to give her credit. But it said like gut-wrenching feeling of embarrassment or shame and fear, that pops up right after we undertake some form of an emotional risk. So, it’s like that aftermath, we experience or like that emotional cringe, after we put ourselves out there in some way. And it creates us mentally exhausting situation afterward. And it can last a few hours or even a few days. And you know, at the time, it seems innocence, like when we decide to do something that is new, or really puts ourselves out there puts ourselves into a vulnerable position. At the time we’re doing that it seems innocent. But then after the fact, the vulnerability hangover is where we’re wishing that we had never done it. Like that was a terrible idea. I just want to go back in time and undo whatever I just did. And, you know, it makes us question ourselves in so many different ways. It’s kind of like this tentacles that kind of go out, it actually reminds me of like going back in time and undoing the action. I was just reading Harry Potter with my kids. And they had that like special necklace that allowed them to go back in time and basically rewrite history. It’s kind of like, if I had that special magical power all would be well. So anyway, if you’re not familiar with what a vulnerability hangover is, that is what the vulnerability hangover is. So now the next question is, why are we talking about this today. And so I just want to share with you personally, the reason why I wanted to talk with you about this today and help you to see where it might be coming up for you. And what to do about it, if it is, is I had that experience pretty much for three days this week. So, on Monday, I was a guest on someone else’s podcast. And so obviously, I record my own podcast every week. I love talking with you every week. It’s something I love doing as part of my business. It’s not a problem at all, in terms of me feeling confident about it. But so, I think I probably took it too lightly in that way. I did this guest spot on this other person’s Podcast. I’m really excited to share it with you when it comes out. But I finished that recording early Monday, Monday morning. And then I noticed just started noticing for the last next like two and a half days, I was incredibly anxious and irritable and had a short trigger, I guess, if you will. And so, I just couldn’t really figure out what why I was in this funk. I was trying to figure out all these all these reasons and never dawned on me till like on Wednesday that, right I have a vulnerability hangover right now. I was on the podcast, he was asking me a lot of questions. And as an expert, and it was, you know, specific to consulting. So it’s right in my wheelhouse. But I just realized that I really put myself out there. It wasn’t my audience. It wasn’t the people who come to my podcast, it was the people that come to his podcast. And what if I said something that was inaccurate? Or, you know, all of this second guessing that started happening? And just like I wish at one point, I was like maybe I should just tell him not to publish it. You know? So, basically, I was creating all of this irritability and anxiousness and kind of short tempered situation and didn’t really realize for two days or two and a half days, what the root cause of it was, which was this vulnerability hangover and so Today I’m just raw real here, I want to share with you this concept in case you haven’t heard it or heard it in this way that I’m going to share it with you today. Because I don’t want you to be stuck in that same cycle. And there’s really kind of two things that I want to share with you around this. Because you don’t want to avoid the vulnerability hangover. And I’ll tell you why here in a minute. And then at the same time, once you get it, understanding it, acknowledge, knowing what it is, and moving through it faster than I just did, will also help you as well. So that’s why I decided to record this for you. Probably in the midst of this whole recording. When I finish, I’ll probably trigger a whole nother vulnerability hangover, but I’m game for it. So, let’s dive in. So today we’re going to talk about how does this concept of vulnerability hangover apply to you? And then how do you recognize it’s happening? Is that a problem if it is happening, and then how to rebound from it when you’re in that vulnerability, hangover state? So those are the four kind of key topics are going to dive into here. So let’s first talk about how does this vulnerability hangover apply to you. So as I’m thinking about you, there’s so many different triggers, because you are a business owner, a lot of owning a business, or new things that you’re trying to dive into and accomplish. They might be things that you have kind of touched tangentially in your corporate career, but it’s very different when, when it’s all on you, when it’s on the line, you’re the independent consultant responsible for everything, right. So, here’s a couple of examples of how this vulnerability hangover can show up in your day to day, an example would be you have a first meeting with a new potential client. And so, it kind of goes like this. You feel great during the meeting, like it’s a little bit nervous up to the meeting, perhaps you get into the meeting, you kind of break the ice and you’re on a roll, and it feels great. You’re kind of like, oh, I’m back in the in the zone, right? And then you finish up the meeting, maybe it’s in person or online, doesn’t matter. Finish up the meeting. Let’s say it’s a zoom, call, you click leave meeting. And then this like wave of second-guessing starts happening and you start feeling horrible. You start wondering like, oh, what did I ask that wasn’t the right question, or what should I have said, or what was that thing I said, stupid. And just like, this completes 180, almost right, during the meeting, you think it’s going great. And then afterwards, you’re like, what in the world just happened? That was terrible. That is how an example of a vulnerability hangover, you put yourself out there to meet a new person or to meet with someone in a new context. And to start the ball rolling in potential, you know, potential conversations about them being a client, and then afterward, it feels so exposing, right, that’s a really good example of how this could apply in your business for you. Another example is, you might have an existing client, and you have to go to a really big presentation, maybe it’s to the board or to the executive team. And you’ve done all this preparation up to it again, you might be a little bit nervous. But you get into the into the meeting, and it’s all flowing, and people are, are seem to be really responding to what you’re saying. And it all seems to be going really well. And then after you leave the meeting, all of a sudden, it’s like this, again, this like tsunami almost hits a wave of like, that was terrible. I can’t believe I thought it was going well. You like replay the whole meeting? And just start second guessing what you did what you said how you said it, how it could have been better? Why did you kind of go out on that limb to say something when people might not have agreed with you even though they seemed like they were at the time, all of those things, right? Those are some examples, just painting a picture of how this could apply to you kind of to look at it in the reverse, you’re feeling that regret, or that embarrassment or that second guessing after you do something that puts you into a position where you’re having to go out on a limb or you’re having to put out your opinion or make suggestions or, you know, recommend a certain process that is followed. So that’s how it can apply to you and your business. It’s a lot of the time. That’s how you spend a lot of your time as a consultant putting yourself into these types of situations. So with that kind of picture being painted, let’s talk about how do you recognize a vulnerability hangover if that’s happening in your business? And so this is kind of my take on it. I haven’t gotten back to My doctor Brene books. So don’t double-check me here. But what I will say is what I know to be true for myself and for the independent consultants that I work with, it really looks like this, that first kind of indication is, how are you feeling? Are you feeling anxious? Like for me, I’ll just use myself as an example, right? Finally, by Wednesday afternoon, you know, two and a half days later, I start really noticing that, like, very purposefully noticing that I’m feeling anxious, and doubtful and self-critical and regretful, and all the foals, you know, and very, what’s the word?


Short Fuse, short fuse with my family, let’s just put it that way. So you know, that was like the my first indicator of LIS taking a step back and saying what is going on here, this isn’t sort of the normal day to day kind of business owner ups and downs, something else is going on. So, for you ask yourself and just get really aware of when maybe the feelings like these kind of anxiety ridden feelings, self-critical, feelings are heightened. It’s such a good leading indicator that something out of the ordinary out of the of the regular day to day is going on, that this vulnerability hangover is, could be part of it. And so that’s where you would want to dive number one, knowing that those feelings are happening, and then asking yourself why are those happening? And so, it’s a pretty easy answer, you know, pretty easy root cause if you know that, you tried something new, right? Ask yourself, did I recently expose myself in some way? I don’t literally mean expose? I’m sure you know that. I don’t mean that. But did you put yourself out there in some way that then could be creating this hangover that’s making you have the regret and the doubt and the embarrassment and the second guessing. So that’s really, what you want to be doing is looking at, okay, where did it come from? That’s what I did. Okay. Oh, right. I did that thing on that podcast on Monday. That is where this heightened second guessing is coming from. So then once you’re aware of where it’s coming from, then you’re able to start working through it. So, then the question, the next thing that I want to walk through is once you know how to recognize it, then the next great question for yourself is, is it even a problem? For me, it started becoming a problem. I mean, by two and a half days, or, you know, whatever, two days later, that’s enough. That’s a problem. I’m like, short with my family, super anxiety ridden is making me consume more energy than I need to in my day to day and yeah, then it’s a problem. And for you, letting it just kind of run rampant like I was doing that it becomes a problem. It doesn’t have to be a problem, though, is what I want to share with you today. If you’re able to self-diagnose, to understand where your vulnerability hangover is coming from, and to acknowledge for yourself that it’s normal. And to not let it linger on my guy did that it’s not a problem. And so that’s the short answer is kind of keeping it within its own bounds is not a problem, letting it run rampant outside of its bounds. That’s where it starts to become a problem. Like I was just describing too, it can sap your energy, it can make you create a dynamic where you’re procrastinating, it can make you second guess on things that, you know, just start useful for you and kind of create that bigger cycle that’s unnecessary. So, with that being said, is the vulnerability hangover a problem? Again, it’s only a problem if you let it kind of fester. What I want to share with you today is that it’s actually a good thing. It’s a good thing to have the vulnerability hangover, if you manage it in the right way. By that I mean is when you’re getting vulnerability hangovers on a frequent basis. As a business owner, it’s a great indication that you are pushing your upper limit, that you are putting yourself out there into unfamiliar situations that are causing you to you know, grow as a business owner that are causing you to try and test out new things. And those are the skills that make business owner successful. So having a vulnerability hangover can actually be a really good thing. is a good indication that you’re pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone far enough. And having the vulnerability ability hangover is a great side effect of that.


Again, it’s only problematic if you just let it either slow you down because you don’t want to have one. So you play small, or you let it linger like I did. Those are the only two scenarios where it really becomes a problem. But you know, the flip side of that is, you know, I really recommend go out and make yourself purposefully have a vulnerability hangover. Because it is a sign of you pushing yourself outside of your upper limit of your comfort zone. So now let’s just kind of look at how to manage through this, how can you purposefully create them as part of your growing as a business owner, as I just suggested? And if you do get one of vulnerability hangover, how do you rebound from it. So what I want to suggest to you is kind of the opposite of what you might be thinking, there’s really two approaches here that you’re going to want to take both of them. The first is to plan ahead, I know this step, I just forgot it, I missed this step. Don’t forget this step, plan ahead, know that you’re doing something new, like I was with guest starring on this podcast, I acknowledge it for yourself, I’m trying something new, I’m putting myself in a vulnerable position and incorporate that into your plan.


I know that I’m going to feel terrible after I do this thing. And I’m going to give myself two hours to feel terrible. And then I’m going to move on, or I’m going to give myself the second half of the day. And then I’m going to move on putting a container around it. So that’s the first thing to do with this vulnerability hangover is to purposefully plan situations that cause a vulnerability hangover. And incorporate the amount of time that you’re going to give yourself for the hangover into your plan, just like you would include other things, you know, step by step in your plan. And then the second thing is, once you’ve triggered that vulnerability hangover, after the fact, and maybe you’re like me, right, I didn’t plan for it, I should have I know better. Maybe you forgot. So, you’re in this situation where you hadn’t quite planned for it, or after the fact you’ve created this vulnerability hangover. Just know for yourself that it’s not a problem. It’s literally a set of feelings like regret or remorse and doubts. And it’s not going to hurt you. It might slow you down a little bit. But just give yourself that limit. Figure out like I understand I’m in a hangover, acknowledge it after the fact, give yourself a limit a couple hours, not a couple days. And then the other trick here that I want to share with you is know what might be in your back pocket that could help you move through it faster. So, for me, I’ll give you an example. What helps me move helped me this week, move through it faster, is working with my clients. You know, on Mondays, I don’t usually have clients. So, I was really in my own head. As soon as I can get in with a client or having a connection call of some sort with someone and start thinking about them instead of myself. It helps me snap out of it really quickly. So, you figure out for yourself, what is that thing, it might be that what I just shared, talking to another human outside your family that can help you kind of trigger a recovery faster. Just know what that is for you figure it out, do some trial and error. And then you’ll have that in your back pocket as well. So that you’re both planning ahead to know for sure it’s probably going to happen. So let me plan ahead for it. And then how can I help myself move out of it faster, like for me, just talking to other people really does it. So that is the plan for the vulnerability hangover. Hopefully that gives you a really good picture of what it is and how it might be impacting you and your business. If you’re trying to avoid it, it means that it’s going to keep you playing really small in your comfort zone. So, we don’t want to do that. But we also don’t want to let it run wild like mine was for a little bit and slow you down in that way either. So put those tools in place to do it on purpose. Create a situations where you’re creating vulnerability hangovers on purpose. But at the same time, plan ahead for you know what that’s going to look like after you have one and get yourself some tools of how you know that helps you snap out of it sooner than later within those boundaries you’ve set for yourself. Alright, so go put this into action. Go create yourself what I call a vulnerability hangover protocol that I just described what’s involved with that, go create it for yourself. And if you haven’t had a vulnerability hangover in a while, then go find a situation that’s going to create one for you. I would love to hear what it is. So send me a message on LinkedIn. If you go through this project that I just assigned to you, and tell me how it went, what your vulnerability hangover, what triggered it and how you manage through it, I would love to hear it. And if this is something that you need help with, I would love to talk with you what your current challenges are with your independent consulting business, and whether or not coaching would be a great solution for you to move through those. So if that’s of interest, you can click the link in the show notes which is consultmelisa.com and schedule a time on my calendar so we can dive into your specific situation with your Independent Consultant business and figure out a good plan for you. So you can keep moving forward and growing in your business and avoiding going back to corporate. Alright, great to talk with you this week. And I will see you again next week. Thanks for joining me this week on the Grow Your independent consulting business podcast. If you like today’s episode, I have three quick next steps for you. First, click Subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to make sure you don’t miss future episodes.


Next, leave me a review in your podcast app so other independent consultants can find benefit too. And finally, to put the ideas from today’s episode into action, head over to Melisaliberman.com for the show notes and more resources to help you grow your consulting practice from your first few projects into a full-fledged business. See you next week.

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