Well, that didn't go well...
Sharing vulnerably should be held with compassion. But what about when it’s not?
You stepped out in vulnerability and it just didn’t go well. Or did the person you confided in have lots of ideas for how to fix you right up? Ouch. Bearing your hurt and having it be invalidated is one of the most devastating feelings. I’ve had my fair share of these experiences. Here’s four ideas to try when this happens that will interrupt the shame spiral and soften your heart when it wants to harden up and never tell another soul:
1. Address the Fear – Stop the Spiral
“I was already afraid to share my trauma and now I’m spiraling even more”. Yup. I’ve been here. New fears have arisen that tack onto the ones that preexisted. Fear that your story is too much, or not enough. Fear of this person not being safe anymore. Fear of exposure and vulnerability or even humiliation. Where do you go from here?? NAME THAT FEAR. Acknowledge its presence, avoiding it only gives it room to grow. It doesn’t stop fear in its tracks, but it does put words to what’s happening which is a powerful tool to begin dismantling. Then, invite Jesus in. Pray into the fear and anxiety. You can steal my prayer, “Jesus, be with me. I feel exposed and confused. I’m so hurt, but I know I can trust you to bring comfort and healing. Please stay near and bring relief.”
2. Validate Your Own Experience
When someone doesn’t hold our hurt with the care it deserves, it can cause us to wonder the experience really was ‘that bad’. Friend, if it hurts to share, it’s valid. Someone else doesn’t get to decide if YOUR experience matters. Although it sure helps when it comes from someone else, you can learn to validate your own experiences. In fact, this is an important piece of healing. My mantra when I forget the importance of my story is, “It happened. It was a big deal. It matters.” Choose your own mantra or try mine out and begin validating your story.
3. Seek [Loving] Support
Support can’t be underestimated. If your partner or closest support people are unable to hold this piece of your story lovingly, you do HAVE to find someone to share the burden with. The first person I told my story to was a therapist. And it was the safest choice I could have made for myself. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, seeking help is brave. You can find an affordable therapist and try remote sessions from comfort of your home with BetterHelp.
4. Grace in the Mix of Hurt
I have tons of expectations for how I think others should respond. Unfortunately, I don’t usually know about them until they are not met and I’m left hurt, resentful and disappointed. Honestly, I wish people knew how to empathize with compassion. The truth is that the person that hurt you may have been unsure what to say, been uncomfortable themselves, thought they were helping or any other well-intentioned motive. Although it doesn’t lessen the blow, understanding their intent can bring understanding to the impact. Depending on your level of trust with this person, you may decide to bring up how you felt after you stepped into vulnerability and were left raw. Ask what they were trying to convey. Sometimes you can have a do-over that’s oh so healing. We’re all taken off guard and don’t react well 100% of the time. Live by grace and compassion for self AND others.
P.s. if this doesn’t go well – again – please do seek support from a therapist.
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