I feel a little late to the party when it comes to the works of Dr. Brené Brown. Her TED talk, Listening to Shame, has been shared widely. Many friends and colleagues have given me positive raves about her books, particularly Daring Greatly and Rising Strong.
This summer I got to get acquainted with Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability, starting with the lecture she recorded for Sounds True, The Power of Vulnerability. I just finished her audio recording of her book, Rising Strong, and started the audio book of her most recent work, Braving the Wilderness. I’m really enjoying hearing her read her work and her speaking, so I’ve focused on the recordings she’s done herself.
As someone who struggles with shame and vulnerability, I’m finding Brown’s writing pretty potent stuff. Right now it is bringing me up close with the uncomfortable, ugly truth that shame drives me.
Over the past few years I’ve worked to reduce my anxiety, the feeling of constant apprehension and foreboding. Now that I’m not driven by fear, the shame that drove the dread is clearly visible. Underneath all of my major anxiety topics, shame drives my fear.
Anxiety about my body. Shame.
Anxiety about money. Shame.
Anxiety about my productivity. Shame.
Anxiety about relationships. Yes, shame.
Anxiety about being an abuse survivor. Still more shame.
Anxiety about experiencing sexual trauma. Loads of shame.
Anxiety about my anxiety. Yep, more shame.
Shame upon shame upon shame. Shame all the way down and I’m not sure where it began. It is an early part of me, I know it began at such a young age that my cognitive brain has a hard time getting at it.
Some days my layers and varieties of shame feel like the are the very fabric I’m made up of. I don’t really believe it, but I recognize that some days it feels that big.
What I recognize is just how much shame gets in my way. It stops me from believing in myself, trying things, and asking for help. It holds me back and leaves me constantly questioning my worthiness. It drives both my anxiety and my depression.
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” (Brené Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me).
Recognizing how limiting shame is has prompted me to start paying attention to it, start trying to learn if it is really pointing me to something useful or if it is just old patterns of behavior that no longer help me. Exposing the shame I feel to the light of day, so to speak, feels like an important next step in healing.
Yoga is the practice of letting the energy, the prana, of our system show us the path to our Essential Self. I can no longer avoid the fact that shame is currently blocking my energy, my connection to my True Self. It is what keeps me from shining brightly.
Dismantling this roadblock of shame is the path prana is pointing me now.