Sometimes these shame storms are directly about sex and intimacy, but often are outlying gremlins wreaking havoc in our relationships. Common issues include body image, aging, appearance, money, parenting, motherhood, exhaustion, resentment and fear. When I asked couples how they deal with these potentially shame based issues, most responded with a very similar answer which came up again and again. Honest, loving, conversation that requires major vulnerability.
We have to be able to talk about how we feel, identify what we need, what we desire, and we have to be able to listen with an open heart and an open mind.
There is no intimacy without vulnerability.
One of the most lethal dynamics to a relationship is women who do not feel heard or validated. These women often resort to pushing and provoking with criticism. Men, in turn, feel shame when they are criticized for being inadequate, either shut down (leading women to poke or prod more) or come back with anger.
I think we all agree that to feel shame is an incredibly painful experience.
What we often do not realize is that perpetrating shame is equally as painful, and no one does that with the precision of a partner or a parent. These are the people who know us the best and who bear witness to our vulnerability and fear. Thankfully we can apologize for shaming someone we love, but the truth is that those shaming comments leave marks.
Shaming someone we love around vulnerability is the most serious of all security breaches. Even if we apologize, we have done serious damage because we have demonstrated our willingness to use sacred information as a weapon.
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection. It is not something we give or get, it is something we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them--we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
As we think about love and shame, the most pressing question is this:
Are we practicing love?
Most of us are really good at professing it, but are we walking the talk?
Are we being our most vulnerable selves showing trust, kindness, affection, and respect to our partners? It is not the lack of professing that gets us in trouble in our relationships, it is failing to practice love that leads to hurt.
Brene Brown ~ Daring Greatly