Chris went to the Giants game. Miles went to Grandma’s. I spent the day reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, and cleaning my house.
Over the last few weeks, months, and year I have been slowly on the decline. I have fought hard against the gremlins, as Brown calls them, which filled my head with shame. I always felt a sense of shame, but never understood it’s power over me. You know, those little voices in your head telling you that you are bad, horrible, terrible, fat, ugly, etc.
We have gone through a lot in the past year (unexpected job loss, financial worries, a baby on the way), but I was afraid to share my feelings, even with family and friends. I was ashamed that I was coming upon my 30th birthday and had little to show for it, or at least that’s what my mind told me. I tried to press through, as if it all was wonderful, but I was falling to pieces inside.
I completely closed my true self off to the world, slowly backing away from every person in my life. I thought putting up a barrier would help, but instead it just made me feel even worse. Brown calls this vulnerability avoidance. Yep, that was me, I’d do anything to escape feeling.
This weekend it came to a head. I just wanted to hide. My mind told me I was a bad mother, wife, runner, photographer, librarian and everything in between. It is hard to argue that voice, because, I’ll never be perfect. So, it’s right, right?
Today I decided instead of lying in bed all day, worried about where it will all end and if I’ll have the courage to continue on with life, I read Brown’s book.
I was first attracted to her work in 2010 when I watched this TED talk:
I can’t begin to describe how her thoughtful research impacted my life the first time and each time I watched her talk. I longed to learn more, but that was all there was at the time. I shed a few tears every time I watch it. It’s like she knows me, she knows what I am feeling. Then to learn she met thousands of people who feel the same things, you mean, I’m not alone?
Last winter, I came across her second TED talk on shame when I really needed a hand to grab onto. It was powerful. I started to understand more about the critic in my head.
So, when I was feeling desperate for help this week, I looked to see if Brown wrote any books. To my luck, her newest book just came out and was in my local library. I rarely show up to pickup my book holds on time, but I made an effort to get this one right away.
I read the first chapter, and yearned to finish, but it was a weeknight and I was exhausted. Then, today began with such a crap feeling, I knew I had to read the rest or suffer longer without being about to put actions or words to my feelings. I needed to understand it all, before I could move forward. Otherwise, I was going to shut completely down.
I suffer from perfectionism. With that, when I feel as though I can’t live up to the ideal in any area of my life, I begin to close down and numb any connection with others. Through Brown’s work, I’ve learned these are normal reactions and behaviors. Most people feel this way, but being aware of it and working toward Wholehearted living is the answer to the gremlins and lizard brain critic.
I can’t write everything I’ve learned from this book today, but I know the lessons learned are ingrained in my mind. I know I will make an attempt to live more Wholehearted and allow myself to be vulnerable. Only then will I be able to innovate and bring value to others.
Connection and social living is what we are designed for. If not, do you think so many people would be addicted to Facebook?
When we close ourselves off, we hope to avoid feeling and being vulnerable, but in the end it causes more suffering which leads to far worse problems. Also, feeling shameful is completely different from feeling guilt over making a mistake. Shame is saying, I am a bad photographer vs. guilt saying, I made a mistake with that image, but not all of my work is trash.
I have a lot of personal work to do. We’ll see where this goes… I’m already feeling completely scared, but I am enough. I am worthy of connection.