As social beings, we are evolved and wired to seek the companionship of others, as it has always been crucial for our survival.
Neuroscience has revealed that social disconnection induces brain chemistry changes that cause real pain.
Shame arises from our concern with what others think of us and our fear of social disconnection. Shame is a normal human experience based on the fundamental human need for connection, love, and belonging, but it is harmful.
Shame involves the belief that we are unworthy of the love, connection, and belonging that we need to thrive. This feeling prevents us from fully engaging with the world, undermines our willingness to take risks, and inhibits self-improvement.
There is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is a behavior-focused emotion, where a person acknowledges they have done something wrong (“I did something bad”). Shame is a self-focused emotion, where a person believes they are inherently bad or flawed (“I am bad”).
Focusing on guilt can be productive and lead to growth. Focusing on shame is counterproductive.
Shame has become ingrained in our current culture.
In a world dominated by social media, people constantly showcase their best packaged lives to the public, leading to envy and a sense of scarcity. This "never-enough" culture fuels a pervasive fear of unworthiness and inadequacy.
We end up comparing ourselves to unattainable standards, reinforcing our shame and disconnecting us from others. Consequently, we stop striving for personal growth, convinced that we can never measure up.
Vulnerability is the ability to experience and express emotions.
Vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Embracing vulnerability means accepting uncertainty, taking risks, and exposing oneself emotionally. It betters our personal and professional lives.
It helps us to overcome the fear of failure to take action.
It fosters connections with others, as it's an authentic form of openness and honesty.
Professionally, embracing vulnerability involves subjecting our work and ideas to criticism, allowing for growth.
Acknowledging vulnerability is crucial in order to navigate its effects.
Research has shown that individuals who believed they were invulnerable to advertising were actually more susceptible to its influence.
Shame is a defense against vulnerability. We need to remove shame to receive the benefits of vulnerability.
Shame is difficult to share with others, and it gains its power over us through secrecy and our internalization of it. To overcome shame, we must talk about and name our feelings of shame, as verbalizing them diminishes their power.
By reaching out and vocalizing our shame, others can understand our emotions and fears, leading to empathetic responses that replace shame with a sense of understanding and connection.
Cultivating self-compassion, setting boundaries, and embracing imperfections will help to make us resilient to shame.
We use behaviors such as chasing perfection, always wanting more, fearing joy, and numbing ourselves with addictions as attempts to eradicate our vulnerability. However, vulnerability cannot be removed, only hidden and suppressed.
Shame is highly correlated with addiction, depression, eating disorders, violence, bullying, and aggression.
Being satisfied with ourselves and our lives enables us to embrace vulnerability authentically, leading to a deeper understanding of ourselves and genuine connections with others. This is called wholehearted living.
By accepting that we are already enough and letting go of the pursuit of perfection, we can open ourselves to criticism and failure without it defining our worth.
By embracing moments of joy instead of fearing their eventual downfall, we recognize our own deservingness of happiness.
A culture of shame in workplaces and schools is counterproductive and has detrimental effects on productivity and creativity. When individuals are subjected to public shaming or blame, they become disengaged and emotionally disconnected from their environment, leading to decreased motivation and potential resignation.
By instilling vulnerability and promoting openness, authenticity, and support, organizations can create a conducive environment for individuals to express themselves, collaborate, and contribute to their full potential.
Leaders in society have the power and responsibility to foster a culture of vulnerability to create positive change. Our schools, workplaces, and society can be more humane, encouraging, and effective when we aim to embrace vulnerability.
Parents have the important role of creating a nurturing and accepting home environment for their children. Childhood experiences of shame are traumatic and can have lasting impacts.
Parents must teach their children shame resilience by being actively involved and engaged in their lives while also providing unconditional love and a sense of belonging.
Children will only adopt traits from their parents the parents actually have. Thus, parents need to be role models and demonstrate the values of worthiness and vulnerability they want their children to adopt.
By fostering principles of worthiness, parents can raise children who have a deep-rooted sense of self-worth, which contributes to creating a positive and fulfilling life for both parents and their children, extending to their relationships with friends, family, and colleagues.