Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Two Most Important Words? Me, Too.

This weekend has been interesting for the reading and viewing I've done in distinctly different venues, but on the same theme. The first video discussed regret. It's a human condition and we really need regret in our lives. As Kathryn Schulz says,
"If we have goals and dreams and we want to do our best, and if we love people and we don’t want to hurt them or lose them, we should feel pain when things go wrong. The point isn’t to live without any regrets, the point is to not hate ourselves for having them… We need to learn to love the flawed, imperfect things that we create, and to forgive ourselves for creating them. Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly — it reminds us that we know we can do better.”

Regret, though, is frequently accompanied by guilt. Guilt happens to be a very protective emotion. As Brene Brown says, feelings of guilt are inversely related to such harmful activities as suicide and violence. That's not the same as shame, however. Shame is a distinctly deadly emotion. You cannot selectively numb emotion. It's like spot-reducing in dieting. It doesn't exist. Brown says that might account for the fact we are the most indebted, overweight, addicted cohort in American history. We haven't learned how to live with shame. We also haven't learned how to live with being vulnerable. To many of us, vulnerability equates to weakness.

It doesn't have to be that way. To be vulnerable means to be brave, to expose ourselves as being less than perfect, as not having the answers, being scared. I don't think it necessarily means fearless. The Latin root for courage is "heart." In Brown's research, the people who have been able to be most vulnerable are described as living whole-heartedly.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, connection, loving, and belonging.

Brown says three elements must be present for shame to grow: Secrecy, Silence, and

In this article from Kyria, the author says we're locked in to cycles of hiding and blaming. I believe these can be traced back to shame.

To the degree you hide and blame, you will ruin the very thing that you most deeply desire. To the degree that you open your heart and give to the other, particularly in the context of some of your hardest moments, you will have the opportunity to develop true and lasting intimacy.

As Brown suggests in her talks, the antidote to shame and vulnerability is compassion. She says the most important words we can express to each other are "Me, too."

Alhough I blast La Roux' "Bulletproof" from my Rockford Fosgate speakers and loudly sing "burning bridges shore to shore...", it really is the last thing in the world we should do. That is, if we want to be loved and connected to others.