Ever had a vulnerability hangover?
Brenée Brown, who coined the term, defines it as the gut-wrenching feeling of shame and fear that pops up right after we undertake an emotional risk.
That’s what I’ve been feeling after sharing that my Mom passed away.
People often have no idea what to say after I share that she’s gone. I also have no idea what to say when they react with compassion, kindness, and words of comfort (just ask anyone I’ve been on Zoom with over the past month!).
We humans struggle with big emotions, and grief is one of the biggies.
I’ll take the vulnerability hangover and discomfort any day, though. Because sharing big emotions with others helps us feel a little less alone and a little more seen.
Next time you’re writing copy, try sharing a big emotion with your audience if it feels safe to you.
You don’t have to share all of the details of your experience. Just show your audience that you’re human. You might be surprised at the deep sense of community & self-trust that sharing brings you.
Plus, you never know what someone else is going through—and how sharing your vulnerability might be just what they need.
Here are some experiences you could share:
- The first time you drove a car
- How you felt after getting to the top of a strenuous hike
- When you realized you wanted to run a business / become a parent / quit your job / leave your spouse
- The best piece of pizza you ever ate
- The moment you recognized that your parents did their best but had their own shit to deal with, too
- The most beautiful sky you ever saw
- What it’s like to wear your favorite outfit
- How you reacted after your first heartbreak
- How you’ve grown since moving to a new place (and how you still feel a bit unmoored, even after months/years)
The key to creating that deeper connection with your audience?
Be honest about what you felt, share why that moment mattered to you, & tie it back to your deeper purpose. Here’s what has worked for me (& my clients, when I’m crafting their copy for them):
Share what feels juuuuust beyond your comfort zone. You have an innate sense of what feels easy to share and what would be an invasion of your privacy. Those levels are different for everyone!
For example, I’m very comfortable sharing that I’m married to a woman. But I’m not in a place where I feel safe sharing stories about the discrimination we’ve faced as an interracial, multicultural, femme-presenting couple of markedly different body sizes. I might be able to share those experiences in the future, but I’m not ready to yet, and that’s ok.
Get specific with your feelings. Were you happy, or were you elated? Did you feel angry, or is infuriated more accurate? Would you say you were sad, or would remorseful, empty, or powerless be truer words?
It can be tough pinpointing our exact feelings, especially when many of us weren’t equipped with the tools to strengthen our emotional maturity & intelligence. I like using the feelings wheel to hone in on a word that rings true to my experience.
So what? With every story you tell, there’s an implied “so what?” that your audience is asking. Why did that experience matter to you? What impact did it have on your life/work/relationships/future? And, most importantly, why should your audience care?
Sometimes the “so what” can be nicely wrapped into a segue selling your services. But other times, the “so what” is just that you want to share a part of who you are with your people.
Your deeper purpose should shine through. Why are you here? What are you meant to do in this life? Why do you do what you do?
You might not know the answers to those questions yet, and that’s ok. But as you keep writing and growing, your why will come into focus.
Truthfully, it took me ages to answer these questions. I started my copywriting studio not because I was ultra-clear on my purpose, but because a client asked me if I could take a stab at writing a sales page. I said yes, it made her money, and I decided to keep going.
But as I grew, I realized that the answer to “why are you here,” “what are you meant to do in this life,” and “why do you write?” all came down to this:
I feel most fulfilled when I can articulate complicated ideas in simple ways and help people feel seen for the wondrous humans that they are.
Copywriting allows me to do just that.
The hangover is worth it.
After I emailed my list about my Mom’s passing, I was shocked at the absolute outpouring of compassion, virtual hugs, and shared experiences.
I know that being vulnerable is scary. But if even one person might relate, feel seen, and feel what you feel…then it’s worth sharing with your community.