I had never heard of a shame researcher before reading this book. Dr. Brown leads the reader through an often personal and vulnerable story as she builds her case against shame.
For most of my life I saw shame as a tool. I don’t think I was even aware of it. I used shame and allowed its influence on me just like it was some natural order to things. Just reading a book on it and allowing it to be identified as an entity unto itself is enlightening.
Many years ago, I worked in retail. A female co-worker of mine, for reasons I can’t remember, was telling me about some of the behaviors of her boyfriend. I remember her stating how he would sometimes get stressed about things and cry in her arms. I was young at the time, still a teen, and I did all I could to open my mouth as wide as possible. I don’t remember the exact words I used but I was trying to express my astonishment as to what could possibly be wrong with this man. Why is a grown man crying in your arms? Is he a baby? Is he a wuss?
Shame causes us to repress our own weaknesses and hate our own insecurity. So, is it at all a surprise that I myself can get teary-eyed rather easily? I saw this as weakness and unmanly, something to be hated about myself and in turn project that hate in the form of judgement on others. Daring Greatly has led me to question society’s view of manhood and see just how shame-powered it can be at times. Men aren’t allowed to display emotion, and if you’re not strong through every situation in life, you’re not a man. Don’t even think about bringing up your struggles with someone; you need to tough them out. The book hardly focuses on men though; I’m just highlighting some of the areas that spoke to me the most.
Just in the last couple weeks, I had a friend reveal to me a massive amount of credit card debt that he is working to pay off. To the best that I can tell, I didn’t raise my eyebrows or widen my eyes. I didn’t say “oh wow” or “you’re kidding.” I simply nodded and gave an attentive ear to his challenge. He didn’t ask for advice, and it sounds like he’s on a good path, but I’d like to think that by being present and listening while not judging, he would be open to ask for advice if he felt the need. Shame restricts vulnerability and it prevents us from truly connecting with one another and from sympathizing with each other’s plights in life. I’m glad to be able to have more real and vulnerable discussions with friends and family as a result of this read.
Since finishing this book, I must say, I never want to shame anyone ever again. Really, Brene makes it very clear how shame may get what you want in the short-run, but the long-term negative consequences far outweigh anything in the present. I’m actively evaluating the thoughts that go through my mind about people and how I would approach a situation. I can often find my mind arguing with myself and saying, “Yea, I could say or think that, but that’s shameful, and it doesn’t actually help but will make things worse.”
Buy the book now on Amazon!