The Truth About My Worthiness Came from Embracing Shame

I was speaking with a friend the other day, digging in to how and why people get vulnerable and what they're willing to share with who.

There seem to be levels at which we'll be vulnerable - first we'll be vulnerable with one or two people who are closest, then friends, maybe family. However, it seems like the biggest edge is sharing it publicly, which is so curious to me. What's the difference in how many people can know?

How do we determine what others can know about us?

Researcher and story teller Brene Brown has done a lot of vulnerability research in her practice, and says vulnerability is the antidote to shame.

When we feel shame about who we are as a person, such as not being enough, being a failure, or not being lovable, confiding in those we love allows us to be seen and heard. Vulnerability creates the space for acceptance, and in those conditions, shame doesn't survive. 

I always thought that vulnerability was showing weakness, and if I did show it I would be admitting to being weak, and less than those around me. I related to it as the same as admitting that I was broken and needed to be fixed. In fact, that's how I did relationships for a long time because I thought it would help him understand me and create connection.

What I was really doing was airing everything I was afraid of about who I was, my 'dark secrets,' and needing love and acceptance in return.

I held shame as a truth and tried to protect anyone from seeing who I really was, until it would come out in a tsunami of emotion (usually with tears).  

I hid my shame in perfection, controlling and giving. And the impact was that I felt lonely, living behind a curtain that I didn't know how to take down. Outside I was a shiny diamond, and inside I felt broken. 

I have spoken to so many woman who have had this experience, who are afraid to 'admit who they really are' in fear that everything will crumble around them.

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.
— Brene Brown

Ironically, I also hear these woman wanting to feel seen and heard and loved for exactly as they are. Like me, it's so common to look for it externally, and find validation from someone else, but ultimately, it's about showing up differently for yourself.  

It's having the courage to be vulnerable with a new partner. 

It's giving yourself so much love to heal the parts of you you see as broken.

It's cultivating resilience and trusting in your worthiness again, again and again.

The aim is not to erase your fears or shame but rather change your relationship to them. Extend yourself more love, become awareness to your triggers, and strengthen your inner knowing about the beautiful parts of who you innately are.

The connection you seek is there, all you have to do is open yourself to it.