I love all of Brene’ Brown’s work on vulnerability, shame, and empathy. I think one of my favorite quotes from Brene’ Brown is “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage are not always comfortable but they’re never weakness”. I encourage clients, friends and family to read her work because her messages on being open, vulnerable and empathetic are so powerful. I also encourage people to reach out when feeling bad.
I recently had my own vulnerable and shameful experience. Several months ago I had an unexpected crisis. In that moment, I felt very alone and I felt a lot of shame. I remember thinking, “I can’t tell anyone about this”, “If anyone finds out, they will not care about me anymore”, and “I can’t believe I was so stupid”.
I ran down my list of family and friends and immediately began making excuses for why I could not reach out. Some reasons were probably very valid and then others were fueled by my own shame and irrational thoughts of not being loved.
After debating with myself, between my logical side and emotional side, I was able to reach out to 3 people: my husband, one of my best friends since high school, and another close friend that is also a therapist. Luckily, I was met with support and non-judgmental empathy from all.
As I spoke with each one separately, I could feel the shame decreasing. I also felt more of a connection with each person. Their responses of compassion and support made me feel like everything was going to be ok and that I can reach out to them in the future whenever I am feeling vulnerable.
Reflecting back on that today, I am glad that I was able to talk myself into reaching out. It was easy to talk with my husband. He has always been very supportive and caring. It was more difficult to talk with both of my friends.
Looking back, I remember fighting the need to be vulnerable with each. Even having the conversations with each of the friends was hard. Both conversations became immediately easier once I heard one supportive and empathetic response.
I don’t think I would have been able to move out of my shame if I had not been vulnerable with those three people. What could have been an emotional trauma was able to be processed and healed by being open and being met with empathy. I am very grateful to have had this experience and to have had the support in the moment.
I know we each experience shame in our lives and it’s a very uncomfortable experience. If you are experiencing shame, I’d encourage you to consider reaching out to your loved ones for support. It may be difficult but it is so rewarding to feel supported during a shame spiral. It’s worth it!
If you are interested in learning more about Brene’ Brown’s work, check out her website.
This post was written by Minon Maier – LMFT