Brené Brown is a University of Houston research professor who has spent decades studying shame and vulnerability.
For most of human civilization, men have hid behind the mask of masculinity, concealing any signs of shame and vulnerability because they believed that a man should never show weakness.
But it turns out that Brené found that vulnerability is a vital part of mental health, communication, and working relationships through her scientific study. Men are waking up and realizing this — even entrepreneurs like Lewis Howes have wrote books on it.
If you’re not familiar with the vulnerability, shame, and guilt movement, start out by checking our Brené’s TED talk, which has gotten millions of views:
“Vulnerability is not weakness. I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty … Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” -Brené Brown
Are you dealing with shame? How do you identify if you have it and how do you handle it? Listen to my podcast episode to find out:
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“Shame is a focus on self. Guilt is a focus on behavior.” -Brené Brown
Here are some key lessons I learned from her book, Daring Greatly:
- There is no data that shows there is any benefit to shame.
- Shame resiliency is the ability to realize what you did is still worth it regardless of the risks of shame and embarrassment.
- Shame resiliency is important and useful and can be improved.
- Validating your self-worth based on the external is a recipe for disaster and shame. You must be okay with what you do and who you are regardless of what others think.
- Vulnerability is not weakness. It is courage.
- Denying vulnerability that exists is weakness because you have a weakness you’re not admitting.
- Vulnerability is not revealing your deepest secrets to strangers. Get to know someone and see if you can trust them first.
- Trust must be slowly built over time.
- Every action that someone you know takes to show their reliability (or lack thereof) is another score on your trust scorecard to determine if you can trust them.
- Men get their shame not only from other men, but also from the women they know. Women also get massive shame from other women. Both genders try to live up to a perfect ideal of who they have to be that’s impossible.
- Research shows that there is nothing good to perfectionism. It leads to depression, life paralysis, and many other issues. It’s caused through approval-seeking.
- The data shows that shame is correlated with depression and suicide, while guilt is inversely correlated. Therefore, you want to train yourself, your children, and others to use guilt rather than shame. Get them to shame stuff like, “I made a stupid decision” rather than “I am a stupid person.”
My Own Shame
Discovering these books and reflecting on my own experiences with shame have been a wake-up call. Since I was young, I would have flash-backs to experiences I had that would seep shame and embarrassment. Usually, this occurred when my mind was free, like in the shower or driving.
After listening to The Mating Grounds podcast, I realized this is fairly common. Rather than push away the thoughts like I used to, I was encouraged to come to terms with them.
This has helped me meet these memories and feelings head-on. I came to realize that some of that shame is illogical.
For example, I would think, “I can’t believe I barged into that conversation and mentioned how I went to visit the same city recently. I must have come off like I was bragging and full of myself.”
But when I assess the situation, I was placing way too much shame and assumption on myself for simply trying to be part of a conversation. I will take these lessons and try to be more compassionate with myself.
Loving-kindness meditation has been helpful.
This whole topic has helped me become more self-aware of how I treat myself. I have realized that I need more self-love and need to stop beating myself up at times for fear of offending people.
Recommended Further Reading & Listening
- Tim Ferriss’s Terry Crews interview (notable timestamp: [31:30] – where he talks about dealing with toxic masculinity)
- All of Brené Brown’s books (affiliate link)
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