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Bumps in the Road: How to Deal with Being Vulnerable and Build Resilience through Change

Vulnerability is a part of life, no matter what. It tends to be significantly heightened if you are pushing yourself to grow, taking risks, and moving through a period of transition.

The good news is, there are strategies that can really help you to manage the vulnerability of change and putting yourself out there.

Learning and practicing these strategies will build your resilience muscles, and help to carry you through the ups and downs of your journey.

Resilience is a practice, not a destination—so be kind to yourself, and know that it’s normal to feel knocked down from time to time. Here are some ways to get back up:

Validate yourself

When experiencing sadness, disappointment, anger, frustration, guilt, embarrassment, jealousy, or other emotions we consider unpleasant, we commonly try to push through or push away the feeling.

This tends to have the effect of only making things worse.

When you are experiencing a draining or unpleasant emotion, validate it, and then ask yourself a question to help you get what you need. If you are really hurting, this question may simply be, “How can I take good care of myself right now?” If you’re in a place to take action, you can identify an action step.

Here are some examples:

“Of course I’m overwhelmed. Anyone would be. How can I take care of myself through this?”

“Of course I feel guilty. I just spoke to a friend in a way that is totally out of line with my values and with how I want to be as a friend. What steps can I take now to heal the wound?”

“It’s understandable that I’m disappointed. I really wanted that job and I had my hopes way up. Still, I’m proud of myself for putting myself out there. I wonder what the hidden win of this will be…”

Ask yourself empowering questions

A powerful question can often make the difference between spinning your wheels and breaking through a barrier. Here are some self-coaching questions to ask when you’re stuck.

  • What story am I telling myself about what’s happening to me? What’s another, more empowering story?
  • How does the challenge I’m dealing with now fit into the bigger story of my journey?
  • What am I learning here?
  • What advice would I give to a good friend in this situation?
  • What loving or encouraging words would I say to a good friend in this situation?
  • How can I be kinder to myself?
  • Who are my champions—the people cheering me on? What would each of them say to me right now? (Hear their voices in your mind.)
  • What am I doing really well?
  • What’s not wrong?
  • What toxic thoughts am I thinking? What more supportive thoughts can I choose to replace them with?

Journal

Writing can be an extremely helpful tool in processing your experiences. You must have a safe place to spill out all of the ideas and feelings that are swirling around in your head. Journaling allows you to get all of your thoughts and feelings out onto paper—uncensored. This process can help you get clear on your what those thoughts and feelings are, and can sometimes allow you to gain perspective over time. Consider writing each day, even for just 10 minutes.

Connect

When you are feeling especially vulnerable, it can be very helpful to talk or spend time with someone with whom you feel safe.

Tough feelings tend to get more powerful when we bottle them up. Sharing with a trusted friend can help to release some of the energy around the feelings. A friend may also be able to provide additional insight and perspective.

Draw from your list of champions and reach out!

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How do you manage vulnerability? Leave a comment to share your strategies below.

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