Moving Beyond Shame
A few years ago my brother’s suggested I check out Ted Talk. Along with Simon Sinek he suggested I watch Brené Brown’s 2010 and 2012 Ted Talks. What captured my attention concerning Brené Brown was that she called herself a shame researcher. Call me insane, but I am one of those whose response is “I need to hear more about this.”
At the time, I had been studying original sin and the influencing power of the religious spirit.Shame is crippling to our lives and can prevent us from genuine intimacy with God, as well as others. In other words, because of shame, we still look for places to hide our nakedness from our Creator just like Adam and Eve.
Before there was a Brené Brown:
In Letting Go of Shame, Ronald Potter-Efron and Patricia Potter-Efron list the following examples:
- I am defective (damaged, broken, a mistake, flawed).
- I am dirty (soiled, ugly, unclean, impure, filthy, disgusting).
- I am incompetent (not good enough, inept, ineffectual, useless).
- I am unwanted (unloved, unappreciated, uncherished).
- I am weak (small, impotent, puny, feeble).
- I am bad (awful, dreadful, evil, despicable).
- I am pitiful (contemptible, miserable, insignificant).
- I am nothing (worthless, invisible, unnoticed, empty).
Shame develops as the slow, relentless accumulation of such thoughts–one self-insult at a time, delivered to ourselves over weeks, months, and years. Notice that each of the previous statements starts with the words I am. This reinforces our definition of shame as a state of being that goes far beyond anything we do or fail to do.
Quote from: Overcoming Shame Based Thinking
It’s Hard Work But Worth It
I have been on my own journey of breaking free from the power of shame for the better part of my adult life. I began my recovery from codependency and breaking free from religious abuse in the late 1980’s. We didn’t have Brené Brown and her Ted Talks back then. There were a few resources such as Letting Go of Shame, which was published in 1989. I read everything I could get my hands on. I was determined to alter my thinking and get out of the crippling grip of fear and shame. I didn’t just read the material available. I did the work. I worked hard. Shame can get a relentless grip on our lives and keep us separated from our real selves.
Because shame has the potential to freeze us with fear of rejection and abandonment it can be a difficult topic to discuss. I think that’s why I like Brené Brown as much as I do. Her approach disarms the fear around talking about vulnerability and shame.
This has been a long hard journey. Today, I am in a very different place than I was thirty years ago when I began this grueling excursion. I thank God for those who braved these paths and put themselves out there for the rest of us. It has made this demanding and exhausting endeavor a whole lot easier. Because of these brave souls we can know we aren’t alone. We aren’t crazy or weird or strange. We are human. And being human is what we are supposed to be. And that’s a good thing.
Well Worth the Watch
Last night, I watched Brené Brown on Netflix. As expected she was terrific. If you want to know what all the hubbub about Brené Brown peruse this Forbes article written by Danielle Brooker, Why You Need to Watch The New Brene Brown Netflix Special Immediately. After watching the Ted Talks I got her book Daring Greatly. When I signed up for Audible my first purchase was Brené Brown The Power of Vulnerability.
One thing I have learned over the years is that shame doesn’t just go away on its own. It is something that comes with being human and living in this world. I can’t change the fact that situations might arise that cause me to feel shame and embarrassment. What I do have power over is how I respond to embarrassment. I can either let it cripple me and prevent me from being my authentic self, or I can shake off the dust and not let it settle on my heart. I don’t have to rehearse offenses. I don’t have stay in pain. I can face my fears and step over what once was a barrier. I don’t have to live in the debris of other people’s opinions or the standards set down by someone else.
I can live whole heartedly
Brené Brown has been one of those people who have been willing to put themselves out there so that others can learn, grow and move beyond the barriers that come with shame. You don’t need a Master’s Degree in Social Work to understand her. She has defined difficult emotional structures in such a way that makes it easy to identify in your own life. There are few speakers out there who don’t just hype you up so you buy their shit. Brené Brown is one who genuinely helps to not only identify the difficult issues no one else is brave enough to talk about but she models walking it out authentically. When we see true courage defined and displayed it helps you see what might be possible in your own life.
So, yeah, I am going to sing the praises of a brave and courageous human being who has stood against her own fears, has been willing to share herself vulnerably so that others can be courageous too. Thanks Brené.