Shame? On Me?

A couple of week ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Brene Brown, the shame and vulnerability researcher, give a brief talk on the tour for her New York Times bestselling book, Daring Greatly. She is a dynamic and soulful speaker that is completely accessible both as a speaker and as a writer. I believe in the universality of her work so much that I gift her last book, The Gifts of Imperfection, to all of my health coaching clients.

(In case you have never heard Brene Brown speak, start with her TED talks here and here.)

I left the talk completely inspired, literally buzzing from the insights that she was sharing, thrilled to have some idea on what was in store for me as I continued to dive in to her new book. I was so caught up in the moment that I did not realize that diving into her work is just like diving into the deep end of the pool.

Two weeks later, I find myself only about half of the way in because I have to take it slowly and come up for air when I need. I have found my breath short and ragged after consuming passages that resonate so deeply that they touch the vein of shame long since buried and forgotten inside me.

She writes “the primary trigger for women, in terms of its power and universality, is the first one, how we look. Still. After all of the consciousness-raising, and critical awareness, we still feel the most shame about not being thin, young and beautiful enough.”

She goes on to say “… motherhood is a close second. And (bonus) you don’t have to be a mother to experience mother shame. Society views womanhood and motherhood as inextricably bound: therefore our value as women is often determined by where we are in relation to our roles as mothers or potential mothers.”

Oh sh*t!

She talks about these competing and conflicting expectations that I have carried with me for as long as I can remember.

“Be perfect, but don’t make a fuss about it.”

“If you’re really good, perfection should be easy.”

“Just be yourself, but not if it means being shy or unsure.”

“Don’t get too emotional, but don’t be too detached either.”

As I am reading I am reminded over and over again that to be human is such a tender thing. Even though it is something that we are all experiencing, this humanness, it is something that we use to separate from one another. We forget that we are not alone in our most tender feelings and the key to combating the shame and alone-ness is to be open and be vulnerable.

Last week, one of the most creative people I know, Vivienne, opened her arms widely and shared her truth about the evolution of her relationship with her body using her camera lens. She wrote about the bullying that we do of ourselves. My last post, was about a heart breaking moment of self-bully that I witnessed and it asked you to begin to notice how you speak to and about yourself. So much of the work that I do with my clients is around changing the conversation that we are having with our bodies. You can lose weight on the latest diet and you can push yourselves but if the words that you are saying when you catch an unguarded glimpse of yourself don’t change, eventually you will find yourself right back where you started.

So I invite you to become curious about how you treat you. I invite you to reach out for support in changing the most important relationship you will ever have, the one you have with your body.

Whether it is reading the work of Brene Brown, or taking a self-portrait class with Vivienne, or working with me as your health coach and companion on the road toward health and wellness, begin your work, dive in only as deeply as feels right in the moment but do it, do it now because you are worth it.