I’ve been a fan of Brené Brown, since a client linked me to her TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.” With over 7 million views, I’m clearly not her only fan! What I find most compelling about her work is the clarity she brings to the description of vulnerability and shame, making these very difficult topics easily understood – and approachable – by a general reader or viewer. While I say approachable, both Brown and I agree that these topics aren’t easy to deal with!
Now, she has a new bestseller, Daring Greatly that focuses on the issue of vulnerability and her assertion that, “the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead.” There is so much rich material in this book that I would like to discuss – too much for one blog post, so this will be Part 1 of a series.
In a very compelling chapter, entitled “Understanding and Combating Shame,” Brown faces head on the ways our culture and families can be shaming, and the destructive effects shame has on a person’s ability to feel worthy of belonging and being loved, and their courage to take risks and innovate. She outlines the different ways that men and women experience and deal with shame. One aspect of the experience of shame common to all is the critical inner voice.
Negative, harsh, critical inner voices are so destructive that I consider becoming aware of them and beginning to wrestle with them a crucial focus of the work I do with clients in therapy. Many clients resist challenging these voices, believing that they are true: “The only way I’ll get any better is to tell myself what I’m doing wrong,” they’ll say, or, “I really am a loser! Those voices are right!” Yet, the only way out of the negative spiral these voices push us toward is to respond to oneself with compassion and kindness, and to begin to share with others what shame has propelled us to hide. Not an easy task, for sure, but one most rewarding and transforming ways to change our relationship to critical inner voices.
More on the hows and whys of this path in my next post.