Today we are going to talk a little bit about shame, guilt, and vulnerability.
I have been working on the Brene Brown's Living Brave semester recently and am reading (actually listening to) her book Daring Greatly. I had participated in a local Daring Way group for clinician's late last fall so the worksheets from the workbook are not new. What is new is the fact that I am actually going through and reading/listening to the book itself.
Brene's work was suggested to me years ago by a dear mentor and friend of mine. She had shared with me the TED talks. The talks sat in my inbox for the longest time. Then finally one day for whatever reason, I decided it was time to go ahead and listen to the TED talk. Upon listening to the talk I was BLOWN AWAY! My thoughts were: "This woman is a smart one and knows what is up! She is so on it!"
Since then I was hooked on trying to find her quotes, watching her clips on Oprah, reading her pieces on HuffPost, etc, always LOVING what she had to say. I had thought about reading her books, but reading lengthy books isn't really my favorite thing. I need my reading to come in short snippets.
Fast-forward a bit, I am now sort of reading but mostly listening to her book Daring Greatly as a part of the Living Brave semester requirement and I am again LOVING it! She has so much information to share about vulnerability, shame, guilt, and how trauma plays a big part in all of it (I don't believe she actually calls it trauma, but as a therapist, that is how I interpret it).
The part of her work that I'd like to talk about today is the part of how shame, guilt, and vulnerability are tied together. She differentiates shame and guilt as: "I am inherently bad" versus "I made a poor choice." Shame tells us we are inherently wrong, bad, unloveable, undeserving, and overall not enough. Guilt tells us what we did was wrong, or that it wasn't our best moment, isolating itself to the action, not your being.
She talks about resiliency, and how the most resilient people are those who are able to relate in a healthy way to guilt, rather than living in shame. Brene also goes on to share that the way we can handle our shame gremlins are by being vulnerable and sharing about our shame. Which, seems like quite an oxymoron because how can you share your shame, right? To share shame means there will be more shame, right? WRONG, according to Brene. She says that when we share our stories that give us shame in a safe and supportive environment, then we have the opportunity to heal.
The key here is that the person or persons you are sharing with MUST be trustworthy, safe, and supportive. Some examples that I'd like to share of safe supportive people include: very close non-judgmental friends, 12-step support including fellowship or a sponsor (such as AA, Al Anon, CoDA, SA, S-Anon, etc), a coach, or a therapist.
Many of the clients that I work with at the Center are plagued by the shame gremlins (you know, those voices that tell you how terrible and awful and unloveable and unworthy of connection that you are). It is a complete and total joy for me to work with my clients and watch them grow and evolve as they work through their shame gremlins by sharing their stories in our safe and supportive therapy space. Every single day I get to experience joy and fulfillment by watching these clients grow and evolve and learn to relate to their shame gremlins in a more loving and accepting way. I am so truly blessed.