Shame and Connection

In the Gifts of Imperfection Brene’ Brown discusses the influence of shame in the way we see ourselves and tell our stories.

Some of us withdraw and hide from others thereby silencing our own stories. (That’s usually what I do.) Others lash out against others and use their own shame as a weapon trying to gain power over other people. In this book, Ms. Brown outlines the healthier way of dealing with shame which involves sharing your story with others. She describes situations where she has shared her own shame publicly at times and with just one other person she trusted at others. She speaks to how she found peace with the situation by no longer allowing fear and shame to tell the story. Through sharing with others and owning our own story, we embrace our imperfections and find courage, compassion, and connection with others.

This summer at our Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) with Breathe for Change in Madison, our group was preparing to teach our first full length yoga class. We were taking baby steps as the team was teaching a 50 minute class; we were each only responsible for one part, about 5 minutes.

I thought it’d be cool for us to have matching shirts, and I love making tie dyes so I took on the project. The idea continued to expand to include our group name and one word to capture our intention moving forward. I chose “connected.”

See, I’m an introvert. Really, a super introvert. I LOVE spending time with myself with little distraction. Floating in the pool watching clouds, laying in a hammock reading, sun salutations on the patio, driving for hours, coloring in my bedroom. I love the time and space to myself. I don’t need music or noise to occupy myself, in fact I find it annoying a lot of the time.

At YTT I realized I sometimes use my super introvert status to avoid connection with others and started “getting curious about it” as our mentor would suggest. (I’ve been known to say, “I don’t like people very much.) Basically it comes down to my collection of data.

I’ve had some challenging situations in my life: My father was an alcoholic. My parents lived pay check to pay check. My father died when I was 17, just out of high school. I became an unwed mother of a biracial and bicultural child. I married into a Japanese family. I divorced. Several people close to me have suffered from untreated depression. My second husband is an alcoholic. We divorced. I’ve spent more years as a single mom of two than married with two incomes.

And, starting with early events and continuing throughout my life, I’ve gathered data that proved people can’t be trusted.

Over the years, I hadn’t noticed that there is at least equal amounts of data supporting the opposite because my momentum was leading me to pay attention to information that supported my belief.

That belief led me to disconnect and revel in my introversion.

I am truly at the most basic level, an introvert. However, I am also courageous, compassionate, and deeply connected to my people.

This summer I vowed to collect data to support new beliefs. In my journal I wrote, “People will step up when I give them the space and opportunity.” “People will break trust; it makes them human, not unworthy of trust.” And, “I am connected.”

What beliefs do you hold that are based on shame or keep you from reaching your potential?