Do you struggle with shame? Do you know what shame is? Brene Brown defines shame as the fear of disconnection – the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. Because connection is a driving force in our lives, shame is something we all experience. So if shame can’t be avoided, what’s the solution? Brown offers the following strategy for developing resilience in the face of shame:
1) Recognize shame and understand its triggers – pay attention to your physical symptoms of shame and identify the messages/expectations that triggered it.
2) Practice critical awareness – ask yourself if the messages/expectations that triggered your shame are accurate and realistic.
3) Reach out – share your story in order to build connection with others.
4) Speak shame – talk about the shame you feel because the less you talk about it, the more control it has over your life.
Instead of shaming ourselves, we must instead be willing to move toward empathy and compassion. Empathy sends the message that we are not alone. Perfection doesn’t exist, it’s not a real thing – but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying to attain it from time to time (or maybe eveb all the time). We can all relate to the feeling of “falling short.” Empathy gives us the opportunity to be compassionate and to encourage ourselves by simply saying “it’s okay” and moving on without judgment.
Building connection with others requires vulnerability. If we’re able to develop shame resilience, then we may have the courage to try new things and know that we are enough no matter what. What might you have the courage to try if you knew you couldn’t fail? Or if at least you knew failure didn’t matter? The possibilities and opportunities for connection are endless - be brave!