Michael Ashcroft

February 20, 2021

Navigating the vulnerability hangover

My style of writing seems to be to look at my own experiences and extract some kind of wisdom or generalisable principles that I can share usefully.

This often leads me to personal places, although I rarely feel that uncomfortable. I think I’ve been playing with my own fear dials for long enough that I know roughly where the line is.

Sometimes I move closer to “this might be too much” , but I sit with the feeling and I’ve never regretted writing and publishing what I find in that space (although I wouldn’t publish everything).

Yesterday I published a note and associated YouTube video on my burnout experience. Yes, that time I dissociated. As before, I sat with the discomfort and I don’t regret publishing them, but I do have a vulnerability hangover.

The vulnerability hangover is a consistent sensation that happens whenever I share emotionally raw topics, like during coach training, Alexander Technique teacher training, writing, making videos, and even talking to friends. There’s a tension that builds up as I’m about to share the thing, then I share it and there’s a relief. After that there is an energy crash and I sort of want to withdraw a bit and nap.

My sense is that it's appropriate for this to happen and I've learned to watch and lean into it. It’s just my system recalibrating to the fact that it was probably okay to share that thing, actually, and perhaps my world is safer than I thought it was. 

The immediate tiredness is probably a release of long-standing muscle tension associated with that held emotional and psychological pattern. Again, I think this is a good thing, because it leads to an ease and lightness as my body gets more and more relaxed.

“You translate everything, whether physical, mental or spiritual, into muscular tension.” – F.M.Alexander

Listening to the wisdom of the body and using that felt sense to navigate my inner and outer worlds really is a powerful way to be. The vulnerability hangover is just part of that process.