I started following Brené Brown after I watched her TedX talk. If you take a few minutes to listen to that talk, you'll understand why it has a few million hits on You Tube and why Oprah had her on her show and featured her in her magazine.
Brené is a shame and vulnerability researcher.
Apparently the less you want to talk about shame, the more you have it. That was enough motivation for me. I bought her books and began following her blog. The Gifts of Imperfection is a quick read that had me wincing in recognition at every page. With humor and heart, she shares her story and in doing so encourages us to do the same. That fear we have of not belonging disappears once we share our authentic self with another human being. I've read a lot of self-help books, but none resonated with me the way this did. The toothpaste was out of the tube. I couldn't put it back if I tried. I was already on a spiritual path open to looking at my shadows and willing to lay things down that were no longer serving me. Fifty years of shame left me with a lot to process. I appreciated the distinction she made between shame ("I am bad") and guilt ("I did something bad") In self-help speak, the shame I carried from my dysfunctional family made me a codependent people pleaser. I was more willing to say yes and be angry than no and feel guilty. (I wish I could remember where I heard that quote.)
To me, dysfunction is simply the pain that is carried forward in families. We are a nation of immigrants-discontent pioneers filled with hope. Were our grandparents looking for opportunity or a fresh start? When I see pictures of the old homestead in Norway, the dots don't connect. Why would anyone leave utopia? What caused my great grandmother's horrible bout of depression? How far back did it go? We are the first generation to talk openly about such things. And the first to have tools to deal with the resulting fallout. I'm hopeful that walking through the pain will keep me from wallowing in it.
I love Maya Angelou's poem that reminds us that if we could have done better we would have. Now that we know better, we can do better.
Afraid, but in.