Strategies for Reducing Feelings of Vulnerability
Our deep care for another makes us feel vulnerable and changes the way we interact with the outside world. So, when you find yourself feeling particularly vulnerable, how can you ensure that feelings of vulnerability don’t get you down and isolate you from others?
- Be forgiving. This is easier said than done. Everyone and everything looks different when we are vulnerable. Our thoughts even sound different to us when we are vulnerable. Remember, not every thought needs to be listened to. You aren’t perfect. You can’t expect perfection from yourself. And others shouldn’t either. It’s okay to want to be alone. It’s okay to need time to yourself. It’s okay to feel like you have nothing to say to others and to know that you may not be in the right mindset to listen to others nor respond to others’ requests, emails, phone calls, etc.
- Realize the feeling of vulnerability is temporary. Feelings of vulnerability appear permanent—but they are like spring storms, sometimes deluding us into believing that their intensity is a sign of permanence. All of us feel more vulnerable at particular times of the day, or particular times of the year, or around specific people. Knowing when you feel vulnerable (at night, or on an anniversary, or during a weekend, or when you look through old pictures) will help you weather the storm of vulnerability. Simply knowing that the vulnerability you feel is a reflection of the moment, rather than a permanent state of existence, can help you endure the moments that make you feel alone and apart from others.
- Know what you need. When you feel particularly vulnerable, know what you need. We do this in every other aspect of life. When we go out in the sun, we put on sunscreen, bring our sunglasses, and grab a bottle of water. Likewise, what do you need to comfort yourself when you feel vulnerable? A book? A friend? A quiet space? A funny movie? A pen and paper? Find your method for coping with feelings of vulnerability and be diligent about comforting yourself in the way you know most helps you. Do you not compromise on giving yourself with what you need when you are most at need.
- Prioritize obligations. Not everything needs to be done at once. Not all phone calls and emails need to be attended to immediately. Instead of allowing yourself to feel overwhelmed by what you think needs to be done immediately, write down the top 5 priorities. Then, make sure and cross off each item as it is completed. You must give yourself the luxury of knowing there is an end to what needs to be accomplished for the day and you must give yourself the luxury of knowing when and in what order outside obligations need to addressed.
- Be strategic about your sociality. Not all people are created equal. Know who drains you and who energizes you. Don’t make the mistake of putting your vulnerable self at risk with the wrong person or crowd that will drain you of the valuable energy you need for caregiving and for yourself. Do not feel guilty about discriminating among and between those people and activities that energize you and those activities that drain you.