I recently picked up Brené Brown’s Book ‘Daring Greatly’ and couldn’t put it down. By the end of the book, I was trying to find someone else who had read it to talk to about it, like after seeing a good movie, and so here I am writing to lovers of personal development books.
So what is it? 12 years of research into shame and vulnerability, but not from a diagnostic ‘you-individually-have-a-problem-way`; more from a social ‘how-does-this work-and-what-impact-does-it-have?` kind of way. And that makes it really stand out. How does this operate in our society at every level? I wish there were more books about what we experience seemingly, individually, that expose that in fact, we are not alone in that feeling at all.
A few weeks ago I was in Coaching training and one of the participants said something that warmed my trainer heart. At the break, she said thoughtfully and a little wistfully about the group ‘I was talking to my husband last night and I said, it is like how you are with your team in the army, you know so much about each other, you really KNOW each other… its so good’. And if anyone knows what teams are like in the army, you will know that this is no small compliment. In the armed forces team members trust each other with their physical safety. In coaching class, people develop something called vulnerability-based trust by swapping coaching with each other.
And that is what Brené Brown writes about, the power of vulnerability and the courage to be vulnerable. In a society where there is a lot of judgement and comparison, it takes courage to share your real experiences, but by sharing your real experiences, and being your authentic self, the most rewarding connections are forged. Many of the most beautiful experiences we ever have are moments of being vulnerable and being accepted.
And so what is shame? At a fundamental level, it operates every time we are made to feel unworthy, or not good enough as a human being. It is different to feedback about behaviours, where the behavior is not great, but as a human being we are fundamentally still OK. It is the difference between saying ‘Stupid Child’ (shame) and ‘Hitting people is really NOT OK’ (setting a boundary).
So, in the trainings I do, I often talk about creating a ‘safe place’ or a ‘holding space’ and it is a space where people are literally ‘safe from judgement’. This space creates room to really struggle and work things out, to change and grow. Shame holds us in place, in a place that is not us at our best, but is ‘safe from criticism’. Vulnerability opens us up to real connection, real learning and growth and this is like GOLD in this world. We need that to be Alive.
Take my word for it, that this is a non-fiction book worth buying.