Key Point: Shame is the feeling that “I AM wrong, there’s something deficient in me and I am just not good enough.” It is the FEAR of disconnection. Shame is not like guilt, which is “I did something wrong.” And shame is not like embarrassment, which is “I have done something silly.” Furthermore, perfectionism is often one’s attempt to avoid the feelings of shame. So, when a person is a perfectionist, that person is carrying the voice of shame, which tells them that they ARE wrong and not good enough. Social scientist and author Brene Brown’s research on the issue of shame is very powerful and deserves much more attention. People don’t talk much about it. She makes an important point. When we are embarrassed or guilty we can often acknowledge and talk about it. There is something to report on and since it is behavior, we can address it and change it. But when we FEEL shame, we do not discuss it because there is nothing to discuss. We accept it as a given and it eats away at our insides. If I make a mistake and focus on my behavior and describe it as stupid, I can change that “stupid” behavior. But if I define ME as being “stupid,” then there is nothing to discuss… I’m just “stupid’ and ashamed. This leads to self talk in the mirror like, ”I’m just not good enough,” “you are an idiot,” “you are undesirable,” ”you are just not good enough and never will be,” “why would anyone love someone as unworthy as me?” Ouch.
Learning how to become more self-accepting, vulnerable and authentic is hard work. It involves self-awareness, and takes practice. It also takes courage and vulnerability. Here is a segment from one of Brown’s blogs:
“Shame resilience is key to embracing our vulnerability. We can’t let ourselves be seen if we’re terrified by what people might think. Often ‘not being good at vulnerability’ means that we’re damn good at shame. ‘We all have shame. We all have good and bad, dark and light, inside of us. But if we don’t come to terms with our shame, our struggles, we start believing that there’s something wrong with us – that we’re bad, flawed, not good enough – and even worse, we start acting on those beliefs. If we want to be fully engaged, to be connected, we have to be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable, we need to develop resilience to shame.”
- Download the Thought It Was Just Me Worksheet. Have the courage to be imperfect.
- Watch her TED video below (it has more than 6 million views).
- Dare and have the courage to work on being more authentic and accept that you are enough… While still being committed to personal growth.
- Remember that connection is why we are here on earth and the key to that is authenticity, vulnerability and being resilient to SHAME. You and I are totally worthy of love and belonging.
Vulnerable and connected in the Triangle,