Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable
Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
by Brené Brown, LMSW
One of the ironies of being human is that authenticity is simultaneously one of the easiest and most difficult behaviors. No one can be you as well as you can. Regardless, oftentimes we are so embarrassed by our individual quirks or shortcomings that we do everything we can to hide them.
In her book, “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” Brené Brown discusses the concept of “shame resilience.”
“I mean the ability to practice authenticity when we experience shame, to move through the experience without sacrificing our values, and to come out on the other side of the shame experience with more courage, compassion, and connection than we had going into it. Shame resilience is about moving from shame to empathy– the real antidote to shame.”Like us if you are enjoying this content.
Punishment for sin is a major theme of the Old Testament. However, severe judgment is often reserved for the blatantly unremorseful. Those who repeatedly thumb their noses at God. Alternately, the Lord reveals himself willing to readily forgive and reconcile those who draw near to him in repentance. As the Psalmist wrote, “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.” (Psalm 3:34 ESV) Keep this in mind as you mull over the issue of shame, and the control it often seeks over our lives.
Recognizing Shame, And Understanding Its Triggers
Shame is not the same thing as embarrassment, although a moment of embarrassment can contribute to shame. Embarrassment is a temporary feeling of inadequacy regarding something you’ve done. Shame is a feeling of disgust regarding something intrinsic about your sense of self. It is those moments when we feel as if we do not deserve to be treated well.
Take a moment to think about sources of shame in your life– maybe you feel bad about your physical appearance, or somehow not “good” enough as a person to merit the affection of others. What triggered you to feel this shame? Why do you feel this away about yourself?
Practicing Critical Awareness
Brown suggests following this recognition of descent into a shame spiral by testing its veracity. Who is telling you you’re not good enough? What gives them the authority to do that? If your shame is rooted in meeting certain expectations, how realistic are the expectations? Who expects you to meet them, and why is it so important that you do?
Humans are fallible. Jesus acknowledged this during his time on Earth, but he did not encourage people to cling to their misdeeds as source of punishment. He was constantly forgiving people the surrounding community had long deemed unforgivable. This precept is reiterated in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (I Cor. 10:13 ESV)
Interrogating the source of your shame, and whether it is reasonable is the first step to weakening its hold on you. However, also essential is empathy. It is the light that banishes the darkness. Finding people with whom you can share why you feel this shame is key. Just as we are the best candidates for building ourselves up (e.g. everyone secretly thinks they sing well), we are also the best at tearing ourselves down. We need to take our sources of shame to other, in order that they might show us compassion. For all you know, the person you reach out to might share the same struggle.
Christian Counseling For Dealing With Shame
If you struggle with negative self-talk, or feeling as if you are unworthy of love, consider reaching out to a professional Christian counselor. They will help you identify the source of your shame, and to evaluate how accurately it represents your true self. A professional Christian counselor will use biblical principles and therapeutic techniques to help you weaken shame’s hold on your life.
“Kyle #1,” courtesy of Will Foster, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY-SA 2.0); “Coffee ,” courtesy of Nathan Walker, Unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License