I have updated my bookshelf with a new favorite Daring Greatly by author Brene Brown. I have spent many years on the couch with my therapist examining the issue of shame and why fear seemed to dominate my life. I continued to search for a deeper understanding around why we are afraid to show our true selves, why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to create a perception for others, why are we so critical of others as well as ourselves, and what keeps us from having authentic and meaningful relationships? One of the best responses so far for these questions I have wrestled with for years is found in the work of Brene Brown. She hits the nail on the head in Daring Greatly when citing the research from the Stone Center at Wellesley by Dr. Hartling who wrote, “In order to deal with shame, some of us move away by withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves, and keeping secrets. Some of us move toward (others) by seeking to appease and please. And some of us move against (others) by trying to gain power over others, by being aggressive, and by using shame to fight shame.” I imagine that these defense tactics show up in our lives in various settings.
Without doing a full book review, let me say, I appreciate the work that has challenged me to look deeper into my wounds of shame and find self-compassion, telling myself each day, I am enough. I have also been inspired to take courage in being vulnerable, learning that vulnerability is what allows us to develop meaningful connection with others. The courage to dare greatly allows us to speak the truth we are seeking, it breaks the silence that keeps us disconnected from our spouses, children, family and friends. To be vulnerable may feel uncomfortable. It involves taking an emotional risk of exposing ourselves while holding the fear of the unknown, however it allows us to find our strength by acknowledging our fears and engage our insecurities. When we take that step to let down our shield and unveil what is behind the mask we can embrace ourselves wholly and recognize that we are wonderfully made. The one who knows all about us (Psalm 139), everything that we try to hide, conceal, suppress, and cover up, God already knows all about our stuff and still says, “You are mine, I formed you in my imagine and you are enough.”