I have been thinking a lot about shame.
Partly because I am only recently awakening to my own.
It is a new concept to me, and yet it has also been a part of me as far back as I can recall. I didn’t know that the sensations I had lived with for so long were actually a feeling, and not actually ME.
Sure, I had heard of it. Became a fan of Dr. Brené Brown years ago when her Ted Talk on vulnerability and shame went viral. (Brown’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world.) She is sort of the Queen of Shame and Vulnerability. She is also a fellow introvert. (And a fellow Texan.) Read more about her and her work here.
Brown says: “I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive.”
Brown says she “became a shame researcher, because shame is the experience or fear of believing we’re not worthy of connection, and how people described their experiences of connection with me was by describing disconnection.”
Lately, I have been considering shame as being something that is getting in-between me and my desire to follow my talents as far as they can go into the world, as well as my desire to know and be known, to be intimate and have deep, meaningful relationships with people from a place of full authenticity. Once again, I am drawn to her work.
Again, in Brown’s own words: “One of the findings from my work that people get crunchy about is my belief that there’s no such thing as creative or not creative people. There’s people who use it, and people that don’t. I do believe – and this is where people get upset – that unused creativity is not benign. Ignoring that part of our humanity comes at a cost because, as you say, we are wired for creativity. It’s part of our DNA. My question is, if we are really wired to be creative, but people are not doing it, what gets in their way? So much of what gets in the way is shame.”
I have been at such a loss. I have healed so much of what stood in-between me and my desires, and yet still, I hold myself back again and again. So I am in a place now of asking what do I do about this?
Brown has developed the Shame Resistance Theory, or SRT, which she writes about in her book I Thought it Was Just Me, (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to I” am Enough”. [This article expands in detail on it.] What I take from it is that the way out is through vulnerability and connection, courage and empathy. Through recognizing shame and practicing critical awareness, recognizing our triggers, sharing our story with others, we grow our resilience to shame and develop empathy to build connection, courage and compassion.
Ah yes. So it will take more hard work and diligence. No magic pill, unfortunately, like the rest of this spiritual journey I have been on since birth and beyond. Great.
OK. I will dig deep and find the will to meet my shame head on. I have come this far. I am certainly not going to turn back now. Not sure yet what this will look like, but I am all in.
Who’s with me?
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