So I watched Brene Brown’s TED Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” and it blew my mind. I might have thought before her talk that “yeah, I’ve heard about shame…no big deal…” But she started to describe what it was: the fear of disconnection. She started talking about this idea of “not being good enough”. This grabbed me because I know all about feeling “not good enough.” She said there are people out there who seem to have a deep sense of worthiness (who are these people? I’m certainly not one of them!). And she talked about how vulnerability fit into all this.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What was Brene Brown really saying? It seemed that what she was talking about was at the core of our humanity. It’s what drives our actions. As I processed her talk, I began to see how most of our unhealthy, hurtful actions to others and ourselves, all come from this place of shame, of “not enough”. Why was I yelling at my daughter for having a meltdown? Because deep down I believed I wasn’t a good enough parent and her meltdown was a reflection of my inadequacy.
For me, Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability has given me a new set of eyes to understand myself and others. I understand more than I ever did before the deep, deep feelings and beliefs of “not enough” that drive me to do things that hurt others and hurt myself. I’m not looking at the symptoms anymore; I’m looking at the actual cause. And by going there and unraveling that my whole worldview and belief system is shifting and my life is so much more “whole”. I have more peace, more love, more patience… (hmm, that looks a lot like the fruit of the Spirit). It’s a wonderful, beautiful thing.
And I have so much more compassion for others and even myself. Many times when I see or experience something hurtful, I see it as driven by shame. I know what it is to be driven by shame. It’s a horrible place to live from, so I feel pity and compassion more than anything else.
The research has given me language for what I experience. It is helping to unravel the belief system I held that told me over and over again that I wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t until I dove into Brene Brown’s research that I started to understand what that belief system really was. But I can assure you, that what she’s found in the research is absolutely true. I’m so grateful she’s shared it with the rest of us. Truth, knowledge, understanding has a way of bringing incredible freedom and life if we are willing to allow ourselves to be changed.
I’ll talk about what shame actually is tomorrow.