Let’s explore the antidote to shame.
First, we have to understand shame. Turning to the 1, 2, 3 of shame courtesy of Brené Brown.
1. We all have it.
Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection. Here’s your choice: Fess up to experiencing shame or admit that you are a sociopath. Quick note: This is the only time that shame seems like a good option.
2. We’re all afraid to talk about shame.
3. The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.
My shame origin story
When reading in grade school, I got so many words wrong; all I could say was “I’m sorry.” I’m dyslexic and learning to read was excruciatingly painful.
I relived it when reading Harry Potter to my son. There were so many words that I’d never seen before. Each time I encountered them, it was as if I’d never seen the word before. Only then, as an adult could I offer compassion to my younger self.
Even though I have a clear understanding of my shame’s origin story, I can still go into shame spirals. Down, down, down. I become agitated. I can’t think. I start and stop my sentences. My vision narrows. I lose all sense of myself.
Silence, Secrecy, and Judgment
Silence, secrecy, and judgment feed shame; well-fed shame grows and survives, says shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown.
Brown has given two of the most watched TED Talks.
Oh, boy do I want to run and hide when I feel like I’m a mistake and unworthy of love and kindness.
The antidote for shame
Fortunately, through the ManKind Project, I have experienced an antidote for shame – circling up with a group of men where I can break the silence, share my secrets, and do so in a place where we have agreed to withhold judgment.
The antidote is available in circles, between trusted friends or partners, and counselors. Anywhere you can be vulnerable and see that you are not alone is a place you can break the grip of shame.
Vulnerability is courage
I encourage you to take the risk to be vulnerable. It won’t be easy, but it is the path to living authentically and with purpose.
Live a Bold and Authentic Life