Moving through Shame to Authenticity
Have you ever had the experience of feeling passionately about something, getting excited, wanting something with your whole heart, speaking enthusiastically – and suddenly been overwhelmed with a tide of shame, a feeling of almost physical self-loathing? Shame occurs when we tell ourselves that who we are, what we want, what we feel, what we think is not good enough – that somehow it is not ok to be who we re in that moment. Usually it is a voice from our childhood – parents, teachers, other kids from long ago – who suddenly speaks up and says that who we are and what we are feeling is utterly unaccpetable. At that moment we become small again and desperate for acceptance we squash who we were about to be.
A colleague recently sent me a link to a speech by social work researcher Brene Brown that addresses powerfully the link between shame and the challenge to authenticity. She states that the definition of courage is the willingness to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart, and that when we are willing to be vulnerable like this we become capable of connection: “In order for connection to happen we have to be willing to be seen, really seen.” – to be excruciatingly vulnerable. She further states that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging do so because they believe they are worthy of love and belonging.
To hear Dr. Brown’s entire talk check out this youtube link:
I believe that this work of owning our vulnerability, speaking our truth and moving out of shame is truly necessary for authentic relationship. On Wednesday March 9th a new women’s support group, “Finding the Hearts Center” will hold its first meeting in our offices in North Wales. The group will address these issues of shame, self-esteem, vulnerability and the courage to be ourselves in the relationships that matter to us. If you are a woman in the Philadelphia region, please consider joining us.