Vulnerability on Social Media

Vulnerability on social media is having A Moment.

More than ever before, people are posting photos of their real, untouched bodies on Instagram – fat rolls, stretch marks, and all.

People are posting photos of themselves without makeup, or crying. They’re sharing their stories of recovery from trauma, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, and more.

In this post, I’ll explore vulnerability on social media, for better or worse. I encourage you to add your thoughtful feedback to the comments.

What is vulnerability?

The definition of vulnerability is being susceptible to harm.

Emotional vulnerability, which I’m focusing on in this post, means to share personal information or feelings that may be hard to talk about.

The potential harm of emotional vulnerability in any context is judgment, ridicule, or at worst, threats.

Emotional vulnerability builds trust with others, and allows us to let go of some of our own shame.

Vulnerability is personal

Every person has a different perception of the topics and depth of those topics that feels vulnerable to them.

Some people may not even feel comfortable disclosing to others that they’re married or have kids. Others will dish about their dating life to someone they just met.

There’s no right or wrong; it’s all about what you and the people in your relationships are comfortable with.

Why has vulnerability on social media become a huge phenomenon?

Opening yourself up to others allows you to connect with them on a deeper level. Implicitly, it invite others to open up to you.

In short, vulnerability builds trusting relationships.

Vulnerability on social media hits this ‘sweet spot’ where it fulfills two aims simultaneously.

Being vulnerable genuinely helps people create meaningful connections. At the same time, it helps the poster gain followers, likes, and popularity (as this article from Entrepreneur explains). It’s a win-win.

Can vulnerability be performative?

To me, performative vulnerability refers to opening up on social media for the sake of getting more comments, likes, or followers, or in an effort to try to sell something.

The nature of vulnerability is sharing parts of yourself that are difficult or scary to share.

If you’re truly digging deep, the impact you’re having will be the same no matter the reasons. You’ll build connections. You’ll help people feel less alone.

On the other hand, if you’re writing in such a way to make yourself sound vulnerable just for the sake of doing so, people will sniff it out. My guess is, this doesn’t happen that often, and when it does, the efforts are pretty unsuccessful.

How vulnerable should I get on social media?

There is not one easy answer to this question. Your boundaries are your own to create and re-create using your best judgment.

Here are some pros and cons of being vulnerable on social media:

Cons

  • Unfollows by people who are uncomfortable with self-disclosure.
  • The possibility of a “vulnerability hangover” (regrets and self-doubt about how much you’re divulged).
  • Everything you put on the internet is permanent. (Remember, even if you delete the post, someone else could have already screenshot and post it elsewhere).
  • Judgment, ridicule, hate mail, or, worst case scenario, death threats.
  • Potential anger or shock from people in your personal life.
  • Other: ___________________________________________

Pros

  • Spread awareness about a topic or issue.
  • Release some of your own shame and self-stigma.
  • Normalize an issue to others.
  • Encourage others to seek help or resources.
  • Decrease pressure on yourself to be or appear perfect.
  • Help others realize they don’t have to be perfect.
  • Increase followers’ trust and connection with you.
  • Boost traffic, followers and likes.
  • Other: ____________________________________________

Additional thoughts for your consideration

  • There is a huge gradient of how much to share, in how much detail, and how deep to go with it. Play around with those gradients until you figure out what works for you.
  • If you’re feeling wary, consider: can you use a different approach than social media to achieve your same purposes?
    • Talk to a trusted loved one
    • Write in a private journal
    • See a therapist

How to cope with negative feedback to vulnerable posts

  • Do not respond as soon as you see the feedback, especially if it triggers strong emotions in you. Give yourself some time to consider how you want to proceed.
  • It’s normal to get defensive in response to feedback. Before responding, try to understand where the other person is coming from. There could be something to learn.
  • If they’re just being a jerk, don’t engage.
  • Delete their comments (you can ALWAYS do this. You have a right to make your social media space safer for you and your followers).
  • Block the user.
  • Seek support from people in your inner circle, on or offline.
  • Remember that your worth is not dependent on others’ opinions of you.
  • Keep in mind: negative feedback often says more about the giver of the feedback than the receiver.

Are you working on becoming less or more vulnerable on social media? If so, why? Let me know in the comments.

Warmly,

Rebecca

Rebecca Ogle is a licensed therapist who practices teletherapy with millennials who live in Illinois and internationally. Rebecca empowers her clients to cope with anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and relationship problems using their strengths and inner wisdom.

How to Face your Fears

You may have heard that the only way to overcome your fears is to face them. That is true!

… and, it’s much easier said than done.

Fear can be paralyzing. The immediate reaction to fear is often to freeze or avoid.

It takes a lot of courage and commitment to go towards your fear instead of away from it. Here are four tips about how to face your fears head on!

Know your why

Why do you want to face this fear? How is it holding you back? What would you be able to accomplish if you could overcome the fear?

Answers like, because I shouldn’t be afraid of this or because my family thinks it’s a good idea do not count.

If feeling ashamed or pressured is the only reason you can think of to change something, you may need to work on accepting your fear, instead of changing it.

So, let’s assume you’ve got great reasons to face your fears. Maybe your fears are getting in the way of your ability to spend time with family, pursue the career you really want, or be your authentic self.

Here’s an example response:

I want to face my fear of public speaking because I want to inspire myself and others by sharing my story out loud.

Your turn!

I want to face my fear of ______________________ because_____________________.

Break it down

A caveat: Complete this step with help from a licensed therapist. Doing it solo could be overwhelming or re-traumatizing.

Any big undertaking becomes a heck of a lot easier when we break it down into smaller steps.

If you’re not ready to take the plunge into the deep end of your fear, dip a toe in the water instead. Figure out how you can ease into your fear; that way, it’ll feel less overwhelming.

For instance, maybe you ease into your fear of public speaking by practicing your speech in front of the mirror at first. Then, you practice in front of one close friend.

Slowly, increase how anxiety-provoking the scenarios are. As you accomplish each step, your confidence will increase!

Wait, isn’t this exposure therapy?

Yes! As all you psychology nerds know, exposure therapy is a form of behavioral treatment used to help people with anxiety disorders and phobias.

A fear ladder is a tool that can help clients determine which steps to take towards overcoming their fear, and in what order.

Again, I want to emphasize that this intervention is best done with a professional who can guide you! That professional could be me, but I’m not the therapist of everyone reading this blog post!

Visualize

To visualize something is to imagine it in your mind.

You can’t be what you can’t see. Just by picturing yourself courageously facing your fear, you’ve already increased the likelihood that it will happen.

This seems ridiculous. Does visualization really help?

It really does.

By imagining yourself succeeding, you’re more likely to behave in ways that lead to success.

Also, visualizing creates new neural pathways in your brain that help it associate your feared situation with this success. If you practice visualizing over and over, your brain will become more and more accustomed to responding to the feared trigger with feelings of mastery, in addition to anxiety.

Even if you think visualization is silly, doing it will get your brain to associate the feared situation with amusement, which can still help regulate your fear.

Visualization Tips

  • Visualize using all 5 senses. In your imagination, notice the colors, scents, sounds, and reactions of the others around you.
  • Add lots of detail to your visualizations.
  • You may notice resistance or cringing as you visualize. That’s normal. Keep visualizing anyway. Remember, this is just for you!
  • Go a little over the top in how you picture things playing out. Don’t be afraid to cast yourself as the hero. Get campy, have fun with it (I certainly do in the example below!)
  • Write out your visualizations, record yourself narrating them, or just imagine them in your head freestyle.

Example Visualization Narrative: Public Speaking

Imagine yourself waking up on the day of your speech and feeling excited. You’re beaming, and there’s a bounce in your step. Someone on the street stops you to tell you you’re glowing, and ask what your secret is. Proudly, you say, “I’m going to face my biggest fear today!”

In the lobby of the hotel, you don’t feel nearly as nervous as you thought you would. That’s probably because of the conviction deep down in your soul that you are going to nail this.

As the announcer says your name, you walk confidently up to the podium. Looking out at the faces in the crowd, you see immediately that they’re human, just like you, and they want to connect.

You expected to be much more nervous, but you notice that as the words are coming out, they sound steady and confident! The crowd is making eye contact with you, looking engaged, and laughing at all the right moments. You end the speech to a round of hearty applause and even a standing ovation!

Commit

Yes, I’ve saved the best for last. COMMIT to facing your fears!

Choose a day and time to try the first, easiest step towards facing your fear. Write it in your planner. Let a friend, family, and/or therapist know of your plan. These are all things you can do to hold yourself accountable.

Excuses: The Enemy of Commitment

When the day to face your fear comes, it is very likely that you suddenly realize you have the sniffles and should probably stay in bed… Or perhaps it occurs to you that there is a Very Important Chore you forgot to do that absolutely has to come before the commitment. Please recognize these as excuses you are finding to avoid facing your fear.

You are not coming up with excuses because you are lazy, undisciplined, a failure, or whatever else your mind is telling you.

You are coming up with excuses because our first instinct as human beings is to avoid fear. It is a very normal and expected instinct.

And yet! We are evolved. We can thank our fears for trying to protect us, AND we can still choose to follow through with our commitments to ourselves.

Facing your fears is difficult no matter what. But taking these suggestions may make it a little less horrible.

If you’re still unsure about facing your fears, or if you’ve already tried and ‘failed’ a thousand times…

No matter where you are on this journey…

I am holding you in the light.*

*A Quaker expression that means I am thinking of you and sending you good vibes.

Rebecca Ogle is a licensed therapist who practices teletherapy with millennials who live in Illinois and internationally. Rebecca empowers her clients to cope with anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and relationship problems using their strengths and inner wisdom.

Using Technology to take your Yoga Practice to the Next Level

Dear Readers,

I am so excited to post an exclusive guest blog this week from wellness expert Shelia Johnson! Her bio is at the end of this post.

In this blog post, Shelia explains technology can help you create or bolster an in-home yoga practice. I love her ideas, and can’t wait for you to hear them!

Mindfully yours,

Rebecca

It’s not always easy to find time to get to the yoga studio. Thanks to various tools and technology, though, you can bring the yoga studio into your home and push your practice to the next level. The good news is you probably already have some key equipment, and what you don’t have is easy and inexpensive (or free!) to add. You might even be able to free up your bank account from those expensive monthly gym membership fees.

Ready to put tech to work and take your yoga practice to the next level? Here are three tips to help you get started.

Find a Well-Trained, Enjoyable Teacher

When you get started, take time to “shop around” for the right teacher by trying a variety of classes via your streaming media device. Each teacher will have their own styles and methods, and not all of them will be right for where you are in your yoga journey. You’ll be more likely to maintain your program if you are following a teacher you like. And if you don’t have a streaming player to help you find your favorite flow, you can easily add one with your preferred features and that meshes with your budget.

Be sure to check out their credentials, though – anyone can post a video to the internet. Yoga Alliance recommends looking for a virtual coach who is well-trained and experienced. Once you find a couple instructors who seem worthy, spend the first few days of your practice test driving them. Once you find one you like, try a few more of their videos. If you find yourself looking forward to the next session, that’s a good sign they are the right yoga teacher for you.

Set an Intention

Set yourself up for success by downloading a goal-setting app, since it can be easy to skip your time on the yoga mat when you aren’t paying for a gym membership. Hold yourself accountable by setting an intention for your practices. Psychology Today notes some research shows that the simple act of setting a goal can help you achieve better results. A good app will check in with you on a daily basis to see if you are meeting your goals. It’s like a virtual workout buddy who can make sure you are getting on the mat as much as you said you would!

Start by setting an achievable weekly and monthly intention for yourself. For example, you may set an intention to practice three times a week and master the tree pose in a month. Once you reach that goal, it will motivate you to set a bigger challenge for the next month.

Support Others… But Avoid Comparisons

One of the best parts about doing your yoga practice in the privacy of your own home is that you can do it on your own. But that’s also one of the worst parts. If you miss the camaraderie of a yoga class, try connecting to other yoga enthusiasts through online forums. Many yoga teachers run forums on their websites where their students can connect and encourage each other. It’s a good way to meet friends in your yoga class, even if you are thousands of miles apart. 

But be careful not to compare yourself to others. It’s easy to look at your yoga teacher’s perfect form and wonder why your leg doesn’t go that high. When you compare yourself to others, you can end up getting discouraged and risk giving up your practice altogether. So accept where you are at in your yoga journey, right here and now, and encourage your fellow students on their own paths.

Put technology to work by bringing the world’s best yoga studios into the privacy and comfort of your own home. Eliminate the excuses and find time for yourself on the mat every day. All the resources you need to get started are probably already in your home, ready to go to work. You’ll feel healthier and happier from the effort you put in!

Sheila Johnson left the corporate world and long hours behind to start her own business – she’s looking, feeling, and working better than she has in years! She created WellSheila.net as a place to not only share her story, but inspire others to put their physical and mental health first with a regular wellness routine and daily self-care.

3 Unexpected Self-Care Practices

When most of us think about self-care, we think of bubble baths, hot stone massages, and vacations! Those are awesome ways to practice self-care, don’t get me wrong. But fluffy robes and lavender bubble baths are only scratching the surface of what self-care entails. Unexpected self-care methods are often just as necessary, if not more so!

Broadly defined, self-care is any action you take that makes you feel good and is good for your physical/mental/spiritual health.

Today, I’m going to be blogging about some unexpected self-care practices that you should definitely add to your routine.

#1. Completing a task that’s good for your well-being

This is the un-sexy side of self-care that doesn’t get as many “likes” or “follows” when you talk about it.

Here are some examples of self-care tasks:

  • Making a doctor’s appointment
  • Going to the dentist
  • Preparing a healthy meal
  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • Cleaning
  • Doing laundry

I know you might be looking at those last two like, really? Cleaning is self-care? No way. It’s just something I have to do.

Well, not the way I see it.

The way I see it, you don’t have to do anything. Many people live in filth. You choose to clean because you and/or your loved ones enjoy living in a clean space. It makes you feel good, and it’s good for your health. And those are the two defining characteristics of self-care.

Sometimes we get so caught up in doing these tasks for others (parents and grandparents, I’m looking at you) that we feel like we don’t have time to cross things off our own lists.

If you don’t have the time, figure out a way to make the time.

You are as much a part of your family as any other member. Your health and well-being are important, too!

#2. Setting a boundary

For caregivers and people who are natural helpers, this one is especially important.

We tend to prioritize the needs of others and put own needs last.

And when our own needs come last, we will drive the car until we’re running on fumes. Meaning that we’ll get resentful, bitter, passive aggressive, exhausted… and eventually, break down in the middle of the highway.

Everyone needs to practice self-care by setting boundaries. Don’t wait until you burn out; start now. Here are some ideas for how to do so:

  • Say “no” to something you’re asked to do, even if you don’t have a “good reason” to. The good reason can be that you just don’t want to.
  • When you’re taking care of yourself, put your phone on silent. Others do not have to have access to you 24/7.
  • Plan things you’re looking forward to, and make a commitment to yourself not to cancel, even if someone has an ’emergency.’ If it is a true emergency, they can call 911. If it’s very urgent, they can find someone else to help them – it doesn’t always have to be you.

#3. Doing absolutely nothing

Have you ever heard the Kurt Vonnegut quote, “I am a human being, not a human doing”?

It’s true. And in a world where productivity is king and being “so busy” is the norm, how often do we get to just… exist?

Here are some different interpretations of ‘doing nothing’:

  • Zoning out in front of the T.V.
  • Meditating
  • Napping
  • Staying in pajamas all day
  • Doodling
  • Spending time in nature

None of these is a “right” or “wrong” way to do nothing. It all depends on what you need more of, and what’s going to help you feel rested and rejuvenated.

For people who are always on the go or who have anxiety, doing nothing can feel uncomfortable at first.

My advice is to stick with it through the discomfort. The more you practice doing nothing, the more you will start to really enjoy it.

Have you tried any of these unexpected self-care methods? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Rebecca Ogle is a licensed therapist who practices teletherapy with millennials who live in Illinois and internationally. Rebecca empowers her clients to cope with anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and relationship problems using their strengths and inner wisdom.