"I Thought It was Just Me (But It Isn't),"
I ran across a paragraph that stuck with me.
"Our culture teaches us about shame --- it dictates what is acceptable and what is not.
We were not born craving perfect bodies.
We weren't born afraid to tell our stories.
We weren't born with a fear of getting too old to feel valuable. We weren't born with a Pottery Barn catalog in one hand and heartbreaking debt in the other.
Shame comes from inside of us ---
from the messages and expectations of our culture.
What comes from the inside of us is a very human need to belong, to relate.
We are wired for connection. It is in our biology.
As infants, our need for connection is about survival.
As we grow older, connection means thriving --- emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually. Connection is critical because well all have the basic need to feel accepted
and to believe that we belong and are valued for who we are.
Shame unravels our connection to others.
Often referring to shame as the fear of disconnection ---
the fear of being perceived as flawed and unworthy of acceptance or belonging.
Like courage, empathy and compassion are critical components of shame resilience.
Practicing compassion allows us to hear shame.
Empathy, the most powerful tool of compassion, is an emoitonal skill that allows us to respond to others in a meaningful way, the ability for us to put ourselves in someone else's shoes.
We can only respond compassionately to someone telling their story if we have embraced our on story --- shame and all. It fact compassion is possible for anyone who can accept the struggles that make us human, our fears, our imperfections, losses and shame.
It has been said that real freedom is about setting others free.
In the spirit of that powerful definition, my greatest hope is that we will reach out across our differences and through our shame to share our stories and to connect with those who need to hear,
"You are not alone."