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Shame, Vulnerability and Courage

Sunday, July 06, 2014

"If we are going to find our way back to each other, we have to understand and know empathy because empathy is the antidote to shame. If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can't survive" (Brené Brown, Listening to Shame, 2012 TedTalk).

Isn't it funny how much of our journey's are related to shame in one way or another. If you haven't taken the time to watch either of Brene Brown's TedTalk's on Vulnerability (The Power of Vulnerability) or Shame (Listening to Shame), I strongly encourage you to. It touches a piece of the soul that I haven't experienced before. Links are at the bottom of the page.

I keep mulling over what shame needs to fester... secrecy, silence and judgment. It's been the overarching recipe that has defined my experience up until recently. I've held my story in secrecy, silence and abhorrent judgment. It's been painful. It's been destructive. It's destroyed my self worth.

Recently, I've found this neutral ground on my journey. Though I have recently been at my heaviest, I've also been at the most peace. This is strange. I'm used to obsessing over food, be it calories or portion size, nutrition or what not. Over the last two weeks in particular, I've been eating when I am hungry. Eating what I want within reason, not counting calories or portion sizes, just stopping when I'm done. Paying attention.

There has been SO much less shame about my choices. As if what I as choosing for myself wasn't good enough. IT IS GOOD ENOUGH. I'm choosing it, and that's the end of the story. That is very different for me. I've had my moments for certain, specifically centering around loneliness, but I've been using guided meditations to help calm me. I've never been successful at meditating on my own, but the guided meditations are right up my alley.

So, I'm trying to douse myself in empathy. It's an active task, not something I can be passive about. I don't have any real time to exercise between grad school and work, but when the lawn has to be mowed and the weeds need to be pulled, guess what? That counts. I never used to let it count. But it does. It counts big time.

I've never experienced anything harder than being kind to myself. I've been so rigid and hard on myself... for all my life... that breathing deep and acknowledging that I don't have to do it all or be it all has been life changing. I try to remind myself of this regularly now, and am thankful I have professional support to encourage me through.

Courage, according to Brown, means "To tell the story of who you are with your whole heart". Let's all choose to be courageous and tell our stories.

Tell me. What's yours?

The Power of Vulnerability: www.ted.com/talk

Listening to Shame:
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