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Dr. Mayo – Vulnerability

Developing your emotional IQ and improving your relationships


by Dr Nicolle Mayo - July 10, 2019

I have been in a lot of situations where I expressed something vulnerable to someone and felt regretful afterwards because of their response to me. Have you ever felt that way? Sometimes we expect more validation and support when we take that risk to be vulnerable, but we’re left disappointed when others ignore, minimize, or trivialize our experiences. Often, these reactions from people prevent us from being vulnerable again in the future. We don’t want to be hurt again.

We should not let these experiences prevent us from being authentic. Instead we should keep a few key truths in mind.
Others’ reactions say more about them than about you. People’s reactions may not really be connected to you, but instead what they are going through.

It’s not your job to control the emotions of other people. We cannot govern others’ feelings, experiences, or states of mind.

Catastrophizing others people’s potential responses only amps up your anxiety. It’s not realistic and ends up wasting a lot of time and energy on your end.
Expressing your emotions is about developing your emotional IQ and improving your relationships. It’s not about getting the response you want.
You can control your emotional response to other people’s responses. It just takes time, skill, and practice.

Expressing ourselves is risky. It takes courage. So, having some strategies for how to manage our response to others’ reactions to our emotions can be helpful.

Learning how to regulate our emotions when we are disappointed by other’s responses to us can be difficult. It may seem like too much a cost to even open up to others, but if we remember that our thoughtful, authentic expression can result in better physical health, mental health, and relationships, the rewards far outweigh the costs here (in the long-run). Learning to regulate our response to others’ emotions, whether we like them or not, is a great skill to cultivate. We learn how to remain calm and in control of ourselves.

When you are getting ready to be vulnerable with another person, set realistic expectations. In other words, expect any response from them and plan your thoughtful response.
We cannot control others. We can only anticipate their response. Having a realistic view of the many ways a person might react to us can help us plan to respond to them. Our reactions aren’t perfect either. People might be upset, hurt, or agitated by how we are vulnerable. They may minimize the importance of what we are saying. They might support, feel concern for, or validate what we are saying. Whatever the result, we can tentatively plan for their response and decide how we might want to respond to them (in a helpful way, of course).

When we learn to regulate our emotions regardless of other people’s emotional outcome, we free ourselves from being overpowered by others. We stay in control. In a sense, we are telling ourselves that other’s responses do not have to dictate how we feel about ourselves. Remember, emotions are not fact; they are merely information signals about what is going on in the moment or in a relationship.

To separate ourselves from other’s emotions towards us, we need to practice what we do with ourselves. By labeling other’s emotions, we put ourselves in the drivers’ seat. This not only distances us, but gives us a moment to pause, delaying our reaction. The language we give their emotion becomes the boundary that makes the other person’s response less overwhelming to us.

We learn to cultivate this skill through practice, but also by limiting negativity, and building up positivity in our own lives. So, by setting realistic expectations for other’s reactions, and setting boundaries between you and others’ emotions, you will learn to regulate your own emotions to other’s responses towards you, better. This is a lesson I am working on, too.


Idea/Concept: Dr Nicolle Mayo

Videography: Ethan Chabala

Video Editing: Ethan Chabala

Writing: Dr Nicolle Mayo


Produced by Vogt Media

Funded by C&N, Penn Wells Hotel / Lodge

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