So What’s Up with Shame?

9e50aa5453eda5ae7e466cd3f6ecaea1I think I’m going to be blogging in a series about Dr. Brene’ Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability. I’m a pretty frugal person when I want to be and I’m too cheap to buy her book, so I’m listening to the audiobook on YouTube. It’s only 6 hours, so why not, right? I did figure out pretty quickly that I have to listen when the kids are not around as she can use some colorful language I’d rather the children not hear.

What do you think of when you think of being a WHOLEHEARTED person? If you’re like me, that word wasn’t really in my vocabulary until recent times. Growing up in church and being “evangelical” I’m curious if this is the new fad for talking about living a life of INTEGRITY. Like, is the word integrity not popular to use anymore? It’s fine with me; I don’t care, but it’s just I private conversation I have in my head sometimes.

So while I washed dishes and made lunches for my littles this morning I listened to Brene’ (I feel like we know each other and are on a first-name basis) talk about shame. At this point she’s about an hour into her talk. I’d like to give you the play-by-play of what was going through my mind as she explains what her research is telling her about shame. I don’t want to take the time to do exact quotations, but please realize this is what I was understanding from her talk. My responses/reactions are intermingled with her statements.

Shame hates to have words wrapped around it. It’s like a gremlin and plays two tapes. One tape says, “You are not enough,” and the other says, “Who do you think you are?”

As soon as I heard this I immediately started thinking about the home business I started a few months ago. When I start taking my business seriously the 1st tape begins to play, “You can’t possibly think you’ll be successful, right?” I hear this voice I don’t even know how many times a day. But if I can push past it and say, “I may not be successful, but I’m doing it anyway. I believe this is important and I don’t need your belief for me to believe in myself and what I’m doing,” then the 2nd tape plays. It sounds aggressive/sarcastic (boo-hoo sarcastic, not funny ha-ha), “Ooooh, look who’s getting too big for her britches! Who do you think you are?” And suddenly I’m right back in high school feeling small, insignificant and not worthy to be seen. It’s like the same group of schoolmates who’ve known me my whole life can smell my fear and insecurity a mile away and I can feel them surrounding me and making fun of me. The feeling of powerlessness is nauseating and I can’t make them stop.

Brene lists the 1-2-3’s of Shame:

1) We all have it. The only people who don’t have shame are those incapable of feeling emotional connection and they are psychopaths.

2) Nobody wants to talk about it.

3) The more we DON’T talk about it, them more we have it. She says when shame is met with empathy (not “Oh you are the VERY BEST and just AWESOME,” but, “Ugh. I’ve felt that way before and I’m sorry.”), then it dissipates. Expressing empathy requires us to be vulnerable.

So I don’t know exactly what to do with all of this, but from somewhere inside my heart I see a picture of a little girl hiding under a table and I reach out my hand and want to tell her it’s safe to come out from that hiding place.

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