Thursday, 24 March 2016

HOW I HANDLE VULNERABILITY


Before I fell ill, I was never much of a social media person. I rarely updated my Facebook status and didn't have a Twitter or Instagram account. 

Deciding to start sharing my thoughts and experiences on the internet was quite a frightening leap. Even a few years down the line, it's still not something that comes naturally to me. I have never clicked 'publish' without being hit by a wave of vulnerability. It makes me feel exposed and anxious. 

This being the case it may be surprising that I have continued to share my experiences publicly. The reason I am able to carry on is that the vulnerability I experience is far outweighed by the positives that come from blogging. More than anything else writing here leaves me feeling clearer and somehow lighter. Much how I used to feel after a long run. Without a physical outlet, putting together blog posts has become a major way in which I process the more difficult things and reach a balanced, optimistic outlook. Add in to this the invaluable friendships I have made and the money I have been able to raise for charity through my attached jewellery shop, the pros clearly win out over the cons.

When the vulnerability anxiety kicks in, these are some things I have found to be useful:

IMPOSING A SCREEN BAN

Sometimes after I have hit publish, posted a photo or sent a tweet, I am prone to revisit it and repeatedly check it over. By the time I have committed something to the internet the chances are that I have already spent a fair bit of time going over it. Once published, further revisits are not productive or helpful. If I'm on my phone or computer, it is all the more tempting. I find that stepping away from screens is a good way to reduce some of my anxiety and lessen the impulse to panic re-read.

ACCEPTING THAT AUTHENTICITY IS ENOUGH

It is highly unlikely that any post I ever write is going to be perfect- there are going to be mistakes  and holes in my knowledge that I look back on one day in the future and cringe at. I try to remind myself that this doesn't mean that whatever I'm posting won't still have value. If I'm brave enough to be as honest and open as I can be at the time I write something, that in itself will be enough to look back on and be proud of. Even if my facts weren't right or I change my opinion on the subject matter later.

MOVING ON TO SOMETHING ELSE

When I'm not sharing things publicly on a regular basis, I find that I end up putting more pressure on what I do share intermittently. The more momentum I gather and the more things I put out into the world, the less important just one item becomes. If in the future it turns out that there is a post I'm not so happy with, it will reflect less on me if there are lots of others that feel more in line with what I'd like to represent. When you're chronically ill and energy reserves are limited, it isn't always as simple as putting together a new post straight away, but I find that even just jotting down ideas that I'll get to when I can helps distract me from my feeling of vulnerability and eases my anxiety.

DOING SOMETHING

When I feel anxious, my thoughts run in circles and can seem like they are getting bigger and bigger, gradually taking over my brain. When this happens, I find that distraction is very important. Focussing on doing something gives my mind a bit of respite and allows my more logical thoughts to step back in and take control. Some of my go to activities include reading, listening to audiobooks and small crafts.

SELECTIVE SHARING

This is an important one for me. Just because I have shared something in one place doesn't mean I need to share it everywhere. There are certain things that I'm comfortable with people from all areas of life seeing and others that I would like to keep to select groups. I know for example that sharing my blog on my personal Facebook page can make me very anxious so unless I have a particular reason to, I tend to avoid this. 

REMEMBERING WHY

The biggest and simplest thing that helps me when I feel vulnerable is forcing myself to think about why I put myself in the vulnerable position in the first place. Just a a quick recap of the potential positive outcomes can do wonders for my anxious mind.



While I know that all of the things I have listed can be helpful, I don't always follow my own advice. My hope in writing this post is that next time I go to re-read something for the hundredth time I can visit this post instead. 
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2 comments

  1. This is helpful on so many levels. I am sure for your social media friends or just people who worry or get anxious.
    Something I have been told and always held close in life is if I say 'I SHOULD do....'. Then I don't. If I want to (or sometimes need to) do something then I have done it for me and therefore I should hopefully feel no guilt from what I have done. So I don't live by 'I should'.
    Also, to follow on from you talking about being authentic, it is not your/ones responsibility to worry what others feel when reading things we post. That isnt to say don't think about it, but writing something that is right for you, at that time, is right for you.
    This doesn't make much sense but I'm taking my own advice and responding because I want...and if it doesn't make sense that's fine by me! :)

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  2. I am in complete awe with your blog after Stumbling upon "Bear Hugs & Beyond" I have only started reading where your inspiration comes from I admire you greatly how far you have come along. I do not follow blogs ever but you have captured me and I am looking forward to following your outstanding progress in time to come. You are an absolute credit to yourself and I admire you greatly for your accomplishments to date. Always shine a light x. With much love and lots of bears. Caroline xoxo

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