How to Recover from a Vulnerability Hangover or the Let Down of a Big Project

Jan 14, 2015

I spent the weekend feeling sad, worn out, and wanting to give up.

What?!?

“But Jen,” you might say, “You just launched a new offer that is filling up faster than anything you have ever offered – besides Taos – and that you feel so aligned with and clear about, and then there is your refreshed website & mission that feels so, well… fresh. You’re just tired and feeling let down after all the hard work, that’s all.”

Yes, the trigger for my weekend mood was the natural cycle of down after the up that comes with finishing a big project. I showed my heart to my world and now I wanted to hide. Super normal.

And here’s the very interesting thing I learned by listening to my mind this weekend: when I’m tired after a big project or have what Brené calls a “vulnerability hangover” from sharing openly, a low rumbling story starts in the back of my mind that goes something like…

“Everything is too hard; I should just give up. Instead of continuing to talk about The Oasis and support this idea I love so more people hear about it, and instead of continuing to work steadily on the new book that I also love, I should eat a lot of sugar and check email every ten minutes and spend hours fantasizing about something magical happening so I don’t have to work anymore.”

As I gently listened to myself this weekend – without identifying with this story as if it were the truth – I slowly understood I had forgotten to stop and say, “I see what I did.” To take it in. To savor it. (Ah, the irony.)

I felt vaguely hungry and twitchy, flat and defeated. I looked up defeated in The American Heritage Dictionary and one definition is “to make void: annul.”

Ah. I see.

When I don’t take in the good I create, I want to quit.

When I don’t feed myself what I make, I starve.

When I don’t give my vulnerable self attention – which is vulnerable in itself! – I numb out with sugar.

This feeding and taking in is subtle work. It is not, and cannot be, tied to outcome! It can’t rest on how much more work I do to get the word out about The Oasis or how many people tell me they like my new website. That will only drain me more. It has to be me taking myself by the hand and saying to myself, “I see what I did. I’m proud of me.”

If I don’t pause and see myself, I can’t let anyone else see me or my work.
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So I plunked myself down on my meditation cushion and relaxed.

I relaxed with the desire to quit, to hurt myself with sugar, relaxed with my sadness about my mom, relaxed with feeling vulnerable, relaxed with my desire that The Oasis finds everyone who needs it. I just let it all be there, be seen, be felt, like wild weather passing through, slapping, chilling, tickling me.

I remembered there is space for all of me, for all of my experiences. I don’t have to make the space, just remember it is here. As I remembered this truth, the space cleared to also see, to take in, the work I had done. Not in a “oh, good job, woo-hoo!” way but like you would take in a strong hug from a dear friend – oh this, this is here. Let me savor it. Just because it is here.

My shoulders dropped. The terrible lonely ache melted into the space, held by awareness, witnessed by my opening heart. My panicked feeling of not knowing what to do next abated. I met myself right where I was, my own vulnerability easing my hangover, my ache.

And later, I wrote this. And a little later I freaked out again. And then went back to the cushion… and so it goes!

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