In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown describes what she calls wholehearted living as being “about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness… No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough…Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
Of course, believing in our worthiness is always easier said than done. Through her research Brown has found that shame, as well as fear of both rejection and being vulnerable, often get in the way of realizing our worthiness. Shame, feeling not good enough, and fear of being unlovable can keep us from being vulnerable with others as we try desperately to pretend everything is okay.
Feelings of shame can cause us to hide, keep secrets and withdraw from others. We may try to please others if we feel we are to blame and are seeking our worthiness from another. Shame can also lead us to blame others as we may “fight shame with shame.”
To overcome the effects of shame, it is important to build what Brown calls “shame resilience.” Building shame resilience involves:
- Understanding what triggers our feelings of shame.
- Checking the messages and expectations that tell us that being imperfect means being inadequate.
- Reaching out to someone we can trust to hear our story.
- Recognizing and calling shame what it is, and asking for what we need.
There are 4 questions you can ask yourself to help understand your feelings of shame:
- Who do you become when you’re backed into that shame corner?
- How do you protect yourself?
- Who do you call to work through the mean-nasties or the cry-n-hides or the people-pleasing?
- What’s the most courageous thing you could do for yourself when you feel small and hurt?
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with someone we trust in telling our stories, we tap into a place of courage. It is then that we are able to share our hearts and sometimes our deepest hurts. Courage can be contagious and often allows others to be vulnerable as well. Through sharing our stories we become more able to share in the suffering of another, showing compassion when someone else is sharing their story. Through being vulnerable, courageous and compassionate, we can begin to build new connections based on our worthiness and the worthiness we see in others. We can connect “without judgement; and derive sustenance and strength” from our relationships.
Sharing our hidden stories is difficult. We may not be comfortable yet in telling our stories, even to people we trust. If you would like to begin the courageous process of telling your story, a professional counselor can help you start on your journey to wholehearted living. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our Orlando mental health counselors.