If you’re new here, you might not know my
fascination obsession with Brené Brown. But her books, videos, podcasts have dominated my self-improvement year and mostly in the last few months. She’s published a few books, and I was introduced to her via this article a while ago from Verily, my favorite online magazine. I promptly ordered her first book I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t), The Journey of “What will people think” to “I am enough.” (amazon)
Being enough is something that I really struggle with and have written about a lot in the past (here). So I started reading this book over a year ago and was so moved by the first chapter. I felt like she was writing my personal journal. I’m still working on completing that book and have been reading for months now a chapter a month with a friend who’s also finding her life changed because of it. I listened to her next book back in January and then purchased her 4th book for my friends and we are reading that together now. I then found out she had a 3rd book which I promptly purchased and read in a matter of a few weeks. Now she’s got a 5th book out. I’m going to write about all of them later, but I’ll stick to a few things we should all do well to remember about shame first.
1. Shame is never helpful and is not the same thing as guilt. The basic definition of shame is “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believe we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” At it’s simplest explanation:
Shame says, “I am bad” and Guilt says, “I did something bad”.
2. Shame is more than just people in our lives or even the stories in our heads. It comes from our culture as well. There’s no real way to “get rid” of shame, but we can develop shame resilience. We do this with four, not so easy, steps:
- Recognizing Shame and Understanding Our Triggers: if we don’t get that what we’re experiencing is shame, then we cannot combat it. The first step is determining that it’s shame and saying that out loud to ourselves.
- Practicing Critical Awareness: realizing where it’s coming from. Is it a cultural thing? Are our mothers triggering it for us? Is it our friends or spouses? Something they said or did?
- Reaching Out: we need people to talk to about this. Brown says no more than 1-2, maybe 3 people that we talk to about our shame. These should be people who are there for us and willing to create space for our stories.
- Speaking Shame: we have to talk about it. The only way to face the monster who loves the dark is to expose the light onto it. We cannot keep shame in the darkness, that’s where it grows.
3. Listen to Brené Brown talk about this on Oprah:
4. It’s so important to speak about it because we all have it, it’s a human primitive emotion that we all experience. It can happen in just an instance, or it can be something we marinate in over a life time.
5. Am I worth of love and belonging? Watch this:
6. There are so many times when we say the sentence “I would be enough if I _____”
- Lost 20 pounds
- Had a spouse
- Was a mom
- Had a better job
- Was holier
- Was happier
I could really go on all day, but after reading Brené Brown and immersing myself in her books and her research, I know that sentence is all about shame. It’s not about love, belonging, or even the ability to be me. Celebrating who God made me to be.
7. I have a couple of friends I go to when I’m experiencing shame. A long time friend who I didn’t know I could rely on for this, but we had lunch a few weeks ago. I had listened to a bunch of Brené Brown podcasts (I’ll share those later) on my way to his place via a work trip, so he got a a minor breakdown and an earful. He’s continued to be there for me in this capacity. He made sure to say as we were parting, “We can talk about this stuff at other times too, not just when we have lunch every 4 to 6 months. I’m serious, call me if you need me.” That’s been so helpful, someone who’s outside of my daily life and who I experience no shame around to be there for me in this way. I guess the grace of the sacrament of ordination is really coming through.
Linking up again with Kelly and the gang, so head over there for some more fantastic quick takes (who are probably a little quicker than mine!).