“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” – Dr. Brené Brown
To speak passionately before a group, to create a work of art, to bring a new idea, to share the depths of your love for someone…all these things take courage and great vulnerability. If you think about it, the best moments of your life often require the most vulnerability. I think of having children – one of the greatest joys in my life, but from pregnancy, to giving birth, to raising them up in a dangerous world – I have never known such vulnerability. It is like wearing my heart on the outside, but it has also changed me dramatically for the better. It has stretched me and made me more.
Did you know that research is beginning to show us some interesting correlations between vulnerability and successful living? Dr. Brené Brown has done some remarkable studies on vulnerability and shame. She sees these two issues as opposite ends of the same continuum. Her work has begun to peel back the layers that make up shame and expose it for the deadly pestilence that it is. She has also discovered that vulnerability is essential to wholehearted living and that shame is the enemy of that life. Vulnerability, it turns out, is where the good stuff happens.
At the core of each of us is a desire to be connected. It is what gives meaning and purpose to our lives. We want to know and be known, to love and be loved, serve and be served, celebrate and be celebrated. To do these things we must be willing to be vulnerable – to give and receive with an open heart. Vulnerability is absolutely necessary to forge meaningful and authentic relationships. Shame is an insidious and sometimes violent enemy of vulnerability. Shame breeds fear, blame, and disconnection. It flourishes in secrecy, silence, and judgment, and according to Dr. Brown, it is an epidemic in our country.
Our shame is closely connected with our self-worth. Shame tells us that we are not worth (fill in the blank). We are not worth being loved, cared for, believed, fought for – such is the message of shame. Dr. Brown’s research shows that shame is highly associated with addiction, aggression, bullying, and many other negative behaviors. It appears to be lethal to our souls. Can you identify it in your life? Where does shame shut your down, haunt you, silence you?
The places where shame owns me are the places where I am frozen inside. I just can’t seem to move forward in these areas, and I can hardly stand to think about them. How paralyzing it is. So how do we stop shame and increase vulnerability in these places? It is important and necessary to recognize the sources of our shame. We have to know the root. Look at your life and consider what things have caused you to carry shame and if those things are still triggers. Use your spiritual and emotional resources (mentors, friends, a counselor or spiritual leader, personal soul searching) to deal with shame and take action to forgive yourself/others of things that you are still ashamed of in your life. Be willing to look at shame and fight it like a cancer. When you discover these roots of shame, speak out loud about it to someone who cares for you.
I am fighting my shame with “light.” I visualize the places where my pain is and I turn a light on it. I see myself flipping the switch that illuminates that room or space in me. What was in the dark is now exposed and all the creepy crawlies that have set up in my soul have to run. I can see clearly what is really there. Often, shame has made the space darker and more frightening than it really is. I face the facts of the past and try to see the whole truth – in the light of day. Shame only grows in secrecy. Empathy is its antidote says Dr. Brown. The truth is – your journey is the same is mine – we all have and must fight shame. Others know how you feel and can relate. When I share my shame openly with those I trust, I find that they share an understanding of shame too – different triggers, but they know the feeling. If someone shares their shame with you it is important to not try to talk them out of it or simply try to make them feel better, but to share that you know shame too and know how painful it can be.
At SaveGoodness we know that healthy emotional living involves good nest care and surrounding yourself with Goodness. When you are full of Goodness then you have it to give to others. We strongly encourage you to take in Beauty, Trueness, Love and Life-Giving things every day. These things are the nutrition that your soul needs daily to survive in this world. Caring for our souls is much like caring for our bodies. We must fight sickness of the soul with Goodness. Feed yourself Goodness. Seek it out. Be intentional about it – just as intentional as you are about eating. Your soul gets hungry and hurts just like your body does. You have to provide it with REAL food – things that are beautiful, true, full of love and life. What your soul needs will be different than what mine needs – but it NEEDS. So much of what we see today with addictions and unhealthy behaviors are people’s attempts to stop the hunger of their souls.
Take a few minutes and watch this powerful video by Dr. Brown. Begin the conversation with yourself about shame and vulnerability. Start your path to wholehearted living and let Goodness help you get there.
We also recommend her video on Vulnerability. Dr. Brene Brown on Vulnerability
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Being able to be vulnerable is a huge factor in having a healthy and happy life. Learn more about how Goodness can help.