According to Brene Brown the biggest thing that unravells or prevents connection and intimacy is shame. She categorises shame as the fear of disconnection, the fear that if we really exposed who we truly were to others, and made ourselves vulnerable we would be found to be unworthy.
In her research into shame, Brene found that only those who had the courage to be honest, wholehearted and admit their imperfection and vulnerabilty were truly able to achieve a sense of connection and belonging. An acceptance that they were worthy just because of who thet were warts and all meant they were more able to reach for and sustain relationships.
If you think about it what could disarm your own shame more than see others admit freely and unreservedly to their humanity and imperfections? Such a person would help you relax into your own self better and release with a big sigh the fear and shame that dogs you.
According to Brene another key characteristic of these people was that rather than being viewed as a source of shame their vulnerability was seen as an aspect of their complexity and beauty. They were authentic, not trying to be someone other than who they really were.
In her talk The Power of Vulnerability, Brene speaks of how endemic to our culture is the numbing of vulnerabilty. Collectively many of us are constantly running away from a deep confrontation with vulnerability and using processes or substances which block our experience of vulnerable feelings (this includes grief btw).
We cannot numb so called difficult or painful feelings with out numbing the positive ones too. If our capacity to be vulnerable goes out the window, so too does the fruit of living naked, exposed and wholeheartedly. When we block the experience of vulnerability we block our capacity for happiness and joy too. We limit our ability to wholeheartedly connect and we tend to remain locked in cycles of blame and shame either projecting them outwards with the Outer Critic or inward with tbe Inner Critic.
What would happen if we accepted ourselves and others unconditionally? Certainly the twin punishers of blame and shame would find no place. This week when pain has forced blame inwards upon myself I have been answering back with love. I feel lucky to be supported by both a therapist and a chiropractor who are teaching me to engage deeply with split off parts of myself that were not loved or accepted growing up. I am learning that the unloved parts are those that need most attention and care. Do I really have to be perfect to be lovable?
After listening to this talk the other day while having a coffee a man walked by with a huge dark birthmark covering half of his face. I thought how individual and beautiful it made him. I want to love my own birthmarks. I want to stop trying to live up to some ideal image. I want to feel peace and belonging in my own skin. It appears that the talk of Brene’s was brought to my attention at the right time. I am sure most people are aware of it. But it struck me as a powerful subject for a blog at a time where I feel the need to nurture my emotional self and am working to accept all parts of myself light and shadowy.
This week some strong feelings of sadness and disconnection have been summoned up for me, but a positive experience has come out of facing some of the ways my own hurt and feelings of vulnerability have at times blocked love and healing, seems ths new Cancer Moon and yesterdays connection of Sun and Mercury in Cancer has raised what are deep issues for me.
I just read a lovely blog on the Cancer New Moon which spoke of the fruits it offers, an opportunity for us in examinung old wounds to find and embrace a way of living that enables self care and self nurture, for only when we can achieve these do we have anything real to give to the world. Self love rests in the power to be vulneranle most of all with ourselves.