If my life had a soundtrack, the day I watched this video for the first time, there would be some inspirational music….music indicating a life shift. In fact, I immediately watched it again and took notes. It was November of 2011. A revolution of sorts in my mind and life was launched. I am not sure how many TED talks I’ve watched…really enjoy them….but the only one that I recall watching more than once is this one. I read Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and every single word of the book twisted me (in a good way). I really tried to absorb and assimilate this information. How many things are different in our lives because of our shame? We are so stinking scared to be our real, true self….we walk around hiding. It is all because of shame. We are afraid of being vulnerable. We push the shame down, convinced there is something inherently wrong with us and that we are the only ones. Ms. Brown showed me, through her research, that we all carry shame. I’ve really embraced this.
When I was young, I lied quite a bit. Looking back on it, some of those lies were outright ridiculous, far-fetched…. But I was desperately trying to hide the real me. I think I wanted attention. Deep down, I wanted love and belonging. But the lies I made up to hide the real me….were kinda out there. Sometimes they’d freak some people out. I also kinda think a lot of the folks I lied to knew I was lying. Ironically, I was trying to hide some real stuff that would have probably gotten the “attention” I think I was after. But that didn’t seem safe. Some friends did reject me. But you know, deep down, that was me trying to realize my fear…I was afraid they’d reject me, so I would push them until they did….but it was all okay since it wasn’t the REAL me they were rejecting. Of course, this was done subconsciously. And this is me psychoanalyzing myself years later.
As I look at the story from my childhood, it hit me that as an adult, there was more of my story I was hiding still. I didn’t want to own my own story. My story has to do with growing up in poverty and feeling basically invisible. My story includes a separation from my husband where I really lost myself, truly believing I was unworthy of him and my kids. My story includes addiction. My story includes binge eating. My story includes walling myself off from people. My story includes working as many as four jobs while my husband is out of work. My story includes a period of time when we got food stamps. My story includes a come and go relationship with God. MY story includes a girl telling outrageous lies to LOTS of people. MY STORY is packed full of shame.
As I reflect, I tear up….I don’t want MY STORY. I want ANYONE else’s….no matter how jacked up it is….I’ll take ANYONE else’s…. That is the power of shame. But here’s the thing…the scary, scary thing….to heal shame, we make ourselves vulnerable.
Brené Brown has written another book, Daring Greatly (which is also pretty aweseome), but I am still a HUGE fan of The Gifts of Imperfection because it is fairly short (130ish pages) and just about can read it, so I recommend to many of my clients. Here is one of the most powerful quotes from the book (although, the entire book could be highlighted….at least for me):
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy–the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
I think we are gifts to each other on this earth, meant to share our pain and healing with….to grow and have abundance in our lives. Finding someone to practice vulnerability with is crucial….it’s how healing can happen.