Welcome back to the #D100bloggerPD book study. If you’re just joining us, feel free to read the kickoff post on Literacy Loving Gals, then hop on over to BigTime Literacy’s reflection on Chapter 2: Debunking the Vulnerability Myths. Let’s get started with Chapter 3: Understanding and Combating Shame.
Brown dives deeper into the complexity of vulnerability and shame in her third chapter of Daring Greatly. She shares with us how "...we all experience shame. We're afraid to talk about it. And the less we talk about it, the more we have of it (pg. 62).” When reading this chapter, you cannot help but think about the shame you may feel in your personal and professional life. Moreover, how you handle the shame.
“We all have both light and dark inside us. What matters is that part we choose to act on. That's who we really are (pg. 61).”
Whenever we dare greatly, Brown argues, we put ourselves in a vulnerable state, leaving us susceptible to being attacked by the gremlins from outside critics, including our largest critics, ourselves. Sometimes the natural consequences of daring greatly is experiencing a negative reaction of disappointment, failure, and heartbreak. We know when we take risks and allow ourselves to truly be vulnerable, there is a possibility we may fail, and thus, enable shame to creep into our lives.
So the questions become, how do we combat shame? How to we defend ourselves against the destructive grip that comes from shame? Well, Brown shares with us the value of courage. In order to overcome shame, Brown reminds herself staying true to her value of being courageous allows her to put up a warrior defense against her gremlins. However, we are only human. We will still feel the pain in connection with the exposing of ourselves in a vulnerable state.
Why don't we talk about shame? Brown argues pain which comes from shame is an extreme fear of disconnection and losing our sense of belonging. Brown's reference to our sense of belonging reminds me of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs that was first published in 1943 in A Theory of Human Motivation. Once our basic physiological and security needs are met, we crave for the need to be loved and intimate in our relationships. If we we do not experience a sense of belonging, community, and intimacy, difficulty arises in loving yourself and reaching self-actualization.
After extensive research, Brown has identified twelve shame categories which tend to lurk in all of the familiar places in our lives. Brown argues we use guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment synonymously with shame. She pinpoints each of these are, in fact, different from one another. We should not use these terms interchangeably.
We experience shame differently depending on our self-talk. When we feel guilty, we are associating the actions of what happened as bad, not that we are actually a bad person. We possess a guilty emotion when we do not live up to our expectations or we have not been able to stay true to our values. Brown states the emotion of guilt is “as powerful as shame, but its influence is positive, while shame’s is destructive (pg. 72).”
Humiliation and embarrassment can also be confused with shame. Humiliation is believed to be something done an individual in an unfair way. Embarrassment is a temporary emotion rooted in humor. Most individuals are aware it does not define who we are.
In order to celebrate our inner warriors and combat our body’s most natural defense of “flight or flight,” Brown shares four key power moves, which include recognizing shame and its triggers, practicing critical awareness, reaching out and speaking shame. These defenses can enable us to obtain empathy from ourselves and others. When we experience empathy we are able to build a connection.
Furthermore, writing about traumatic experiences can greatly reduce shame we feel in a short amount of time. When my daughter was born seven weeks prior to her due date, I am unaware if my first emotion was shame. I definitely felt more anger and worry. However, as the year went on, and she was home and growing into a healthy little girl, the shame did start to seep in. Questions began swirling through my mind:
Why has she arrived so early?
What if this all happens again with our next child?
What if my little girl doesn’t meet her milestones?
Am I at fault?
At the time, I could barely speak about my experience with those I love. I would always become overwhelmed with emotion. My next step was a decision to write about my feelings. I began writing my little one letters throughout her first year. These helped me share my feelings of sadness and guilt. However, I noticed that, slowly, as time passed, the letters moved from shame into the pure joy of being her mom. This chapter helped me gain perspective on my personal journey over the past three years. I am now pleased to be able to finally recognize the positive outcomes of this journey. This recognition, alongside the reading of Daring Greatly, has allowed me to speak about my experience.
While men and women deal with their pain and shame differently, Brown discusses the importance of practicing love. She quotes from her book The Gifts of Imperfections:
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen or known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.
Love is not something we give or get. It is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each of them-we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged healed, and rare.
Brown sums up her chapter in the very last two pages with the notion “to love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the single greatest act of daring greatly”.
I couldn't help but connect the end of the chapter to Whitney! This song has always been one of my favorites to belt out after a long day, but now it really has a connection in my life after engaging in this chapter with Ms. Brown!
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest
Love of all Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
Whitney Houston, “The Greatest Love of All”
Stay tuned for Chapter 4: The Vulnerability Armory from Amy!