Thursday, 25 July 2013

Shame is A Full-Contact Emotion (Brené Brown)


It is a cool outside this morning and I have on my fluffy red robe as I sit outside and watch the birds flit back and forth from the fence to the feeder----arrogantly tossing aside imperfect sunflower seeds to get to the good ones.  

The discarded seeds, some empty, some full, punctuate my deck, waiting for the squirrels, who will later claim this easy buffet.

I am still reading Brené and The Gifts of Imperfection.

Feels a bit like learning a new language ---I see the words---I hear the words---but the meaning is so diffuse...I need to read and reread and sometimes, even read out loud to make the words stick

It is hard work.  

And while the smooth cover of her book lies balanced on my palm, seemingly weightless, many of the concepts have a density that knocks me flat on my ass ---like a large medicine ball.

CATCH THIS ONE!  Oooooooof!  I am down.  

Eyes wide, trying to catch my breath, wrestling with the weight of hefty concepts like shame, authenticity, wholeheartedness, courage, compassion, connection.  

Sometimes it takes me two or three days to figure out how to get my arms around the ball, then another day to figure out how to sit.  Breathing slowly, concentrating intensely, I shuffle my feet underneath me and slowly raise myself from a squat (this is the hardest part) to a shaky, wide legged stance--my arms around the ball.  

Sometimes I shove it off my chest after catching it---otherwise it will crush me.  

Other times I get close, but I drop it.  It is just too damn heavy for today.  I’ll get it next time.  

And some days I change the rules and it is dodge ball.  

Not even gonna try to catch that one.
So far shame has been the heaviest one.  And the chapter on shame has felt like a million pages.  But I get why.  

This one is HUGE—but I have finally begun to put it in a place where it feels comfortable to carry around.  And look at. 

The end of this chapter talks about shame resilience.  Brené  says shame resilience is:
“..the ability to recognize shame, to move through it constructively while maintaining worthiness and authenticity, and to ultimately develop more courage, compassion and connection as a result of our experience.”
Woah…..that’s a shitstorm of medicine balls.  



Glad I have been taking it slow.  I can catch most of these –regain my balance and put them in my pocket before catching the next one.   Full pockets weigh me down---so this is a slow thing to REALLY wrap my head around.
“When we feel shame, we feel disconnected and desperate for worthiness.  Full of shame or the fear of shame, we are more likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors and to attack or shame others.” (Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown)
I have done both of these when feeling shame.  Put myself down or dismissed what I have.  
"Hey I like your big white sink!”“It is dirty! The seal broke and now it stains all the time. I hate it.”
---or try to shame someone else:
“Wow so you have to redo part of the report?”“Yeah but Maddy, hers was horrid! I mean, really?  Who uses pink on their slides! Pink! And the font—don’t get me started!  She couldn’t even read her own PowerPoint slides!”
Brené says the solution to shame is working on shame resilience. 

Finally, something with steps I could follow!

Shame Resilience Formula (Brené Brown---Gifts of Imperfection)

1.    Get to know your shame.  Figure out what triggers it –what situations are you in when it pops up. 

2.     Reality check the messages you are sending yourself. “Imperfect does not equal inadequate”.  (If I start in with the negative self-talk I try to picture one of my especially good perfectionista friends saying the same thing to me.  If they wouldn’t, I probably shouldn’t say it to myself!)

3.   Share your stories with others.  Shame thrives on being hidden, silence and judgement.  Bring it out into the light.  Talk with those who have earned the right to hear your stories.  You’ll be surprised…

4.     Use the word shame when you talk---talk about your feelings—and ask for what you need from someone.  (ie.  I feel shame when I look at the scale.  I feel like a fat blob….I need to know what you see in me that makes you still be friends with me.”


Yesterday I put some of this into practice. 
My Sista Perfectionista and I met at the park near my house.  Four kids in tow – ages 2,5,8 and 14.  There was walking, playing, climbing on stuff – it was a busy morning.  By noon---Sista was ready to pack it in and do the 45 minute drive home with hungry, cranky kids and I suggested she come back to my place. After all, grilled cheese is grilled cheese no matter where you go.
This was a risk because:
1.    I knew I didn’t have enough bread—not even close, so we would have to stop for bread on the way to my house.  I was ashamed I wasn't the mistress of a well stocked house!!  

2.     I had no recollection of what my house looked like---other than I remembered I made my bed. (see previous shame post on my house!)
Part of me wanted her to say no, she wanted to head home.

But instead, knowing my house shame, she offered me a way out.

"Are you sure? We can always do it another day?"

There it was, my way out.  It would have been so easy to take her up on the rain check, but instead, I told her to come.

I confessed my bread shame---(she laughed and hugged me).  

We stopped at the store and got bread.  No one died. 
The house was..... whatever (actually I was mid break in painting the kitchen--nope, nope, I don't need to explain!!!)  My house was fine, and in short order it was filled with the warmth of toasting bread and melting cheese.

(I did apologize for the flagrant use of Styrofoam plates---she is an eco/green Sista…..) and later we sat outside or inside and chatted while the boys vanished to the basement for video games and the wee one stayed with us. 
It was awesome.  And I felt great!  

Take THAT shame.  I tried you on and named you by name and had a fabulous afternoon with my Sista!

Bring on the ten guideposts!!!

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