I recently ‘caught’ my shame – actual words behind my thinking, saying, “you idiot, you should have known better, you can’t admit that this is what you’ve been doing and thinking!” And, “You are NOT good at this, why do you keep doing it?” This voice is soooo subtle, but holy smokes it is powerful. I have obeyed it and have stayed small because of it. But even more disastrous is that I have let it affect my connections to myself and to those I love. That is the root problem with shame.
Brene Brown expertly talks about this in her book “Daring Greatly,” which I highly recommend. Reading about shame as theory and working through shame as reality, however, are very different things. In light of my recent confrontation with shame I have reviewed many conversations I have had and inside each of those conversations, my friends have expressed not only the difficulties they are facing, but each and every one of them cited that they felt shame on some level for having these difficulties.
Neuroscience and technology have proven that intense emotions have a physical component. Shame, as one example, is literally painful. The only cure, or way to overcome shame is to be vulnerable. And vulnerability is completely tied into our survival mechanism. Anything that is potentially dangerous, and that’s what vulnerability feels like – there is a possibility that we will be harmed in some way if we expose ourselves, and because rejection is right up there as a painful emotional/physical sensation, we tend to avoid vulnerability.
The choice I need to make? Stay disconnected, small and ‘safe’ OR admit/confess/confront/persist, risking vulnerability and experience connection, forgiveness and possibly expansion. Sounds simple….