About a year ago I bought Brene Brown's book "I thought it was just me". I cracked it open, read two pages, and thought, "Wait a second, this book is about SHAME? I don't have any shame. This book isn't for me...!" Then I proceeded to close the book, put it on a shelf, and I haven't opened it since.
This weekend I was on a retreat with a group of business people called Visionaries. The story on how I even ended up at the retreat is quite literally a miracle...but that's for a different blog post. ;)
Anyway, one of the speakers, Kris Vallotton, brought up in his session the well-known author and researcher Brene Brown. Vallotton quoted her by saying that usually the people carrying the most shame are the ones who deny its presence in their lives. As you can imagine, I was immediately convicted as I recalled her dusty book on my shelf.
Let me tell you more about Brene Brown. She did a 6 year study on human nature and found that one common thread between every human (no matter what gender, race, or socioeconomic background) was the need for connection.
She then found that the opposite of connection was shame.
Shame is the intense fear of being discovered for not what people think you are, but who you really are.
Brown then found that the key to unlocking shame is vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the ability to be seen and truly known. It is the birth place of joy, love, happiness, and creativity.
People who combat shame with the weapon of vulnerability come out on the other side with a sense of worthiness--the belief that they deserve to be loved and belong.
Vulnerability brings worthiness, and worthiness breaks shame.
And then you can be your most authentic self.
Authenticity is the ability to let go of who you think you should be, so that you can be who you really are.
This takes courage.
Courage comes from the root word of cur which means heart. It takes courage to tell the story of who you are with your WHOLE HEART.
Courage is not fearlessness. It just means that you don't accommodate and give in to fear.
One way people deal with shame is by numbing it, but then that numbs everything else good in your life. There's an ecosystem there as well, a dark one. The cycle becomes Shame > Hiding > Disconnection > Unworthiness. I don't know about you, but that cycle is not something that I want to make room for in my life.
Brown's study showed that the people who came out shame were the ones who ended up truly loving themsleves, flaws and ALL.
Here is something else we should all remember--you are not just your strengths.
You are your divinely placed weaknesses. We all have weaknesses in certain places for a reason.
Our weakness is actually the thing that can make us famous. It is what makes us vulnerable and beautiful. Real. Authentic. Our flaws and the worn places in us are purely beautiful.
I can't help but think of Meryl Streep when I think of someone who isn't afraid to show her flaws. From day one, Meryl has stayed authentic in the entertainment industry, and her flaws have made her famous.
I encourage anyone reading this to step forth in vulnerability and courage to break shame off of their life. Have the courage to tell your true story, share your true self, allow your flaws to be exposed in a beautiful way. Slowly see what happens in your life...I believe the result will be extraordinary.
If you want to talk further on this subject, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below. I would love to keep this conversation going. I want to create a community and army of empowered peers & actors who walk through life WITHOUT shame!
With love and gratitude,