Brené Brown: Listening to Shame

Brené talking about vulnerability as courage, and as the source of creativity and change – so personally, relationally and culturally vital.

She talks too about the importance of engaging with shame. She comments that she did not learn about the power of vulnerability through study, but through her own experiencing of shame – ‘Gotta dance with the one who brung you’ – and that it is our squirming desire to avoid/move away from feelings of shame that gets in the way of our risking, opening, sharing, daring, finding our wings, becoming our fuller selves, learning the power of our vulnerability.

She talks about the difference between shame (which correlates with addictive, self-destructive behaviours, violence and despair) and guilt (uncomfortable, but adaptive and productive of learning):-

Guilt: I’m sorry I made a mistake;
Shame: I am a mistake.

She comments that shame is endemic in our cultures, thrives on secrecy, silence and judgement, and is dissolved by empathy:-

‘If we’re going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path’

and the way to unlock the power of vulnerability is through a willingness to engage with our own shame. As she comments, only those without empathy are without shame – those of us with a capacity for empathy all know ‘the warm wash’ of shame.

Some interesting comments on the role gender/culture play in this, too.

This is the Theodore Roosevelt piece she quotes: ‘the man in the arena’:-

‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

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4 Responses to Brené Brown: Listening to Shame

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