Let's Get Real!!
Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do.
Wholehearted living, letting go of who you think you're supposed to be and embracing who you are is a life path engineered by the research of Dr. Brene' Brown. In her book "The Gifts of Imperfection" she uses the acronym D.I.G., wholehearted people DIG deep. Wholehearted people are Deliberate in their thoughts and behaviors through prayer, meditation, or simply setting their intentions. They are Inspired to make new and different life choices, and they are Going, they take action.
To live wholeheartedly we must cultivate:
Wholehearted living is not a one time choice, It is a daily practice to show up and be seen and heard through our vulnerabilities. Until we let ourselves be vulnerable and “exposed” we cannot experience wholehearted living. One of the biggest road blocks we face on the path to wholehearted living is shame. To live a wholehearted life we must overcome the obstacle of shame. Shame. It's a basic human emotion, and one we all experience. Some of us feel it more often and more acutely than others due to false messages we believe, but shame touches each and every one of us. Here are the first 3 things Brene' Brown says you need to know about shame:
1. We all have it. Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions we experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection.
2. We’re all afraid to talk about shame.
3. The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.
When God created us it was never His intention for us to experience the pain of shame. In Genesis 2:25 - 3:10 we find the birth story of shame. In the very beginning, there was no shame. Genesis 2:25 says, "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were. not. ashamed."
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, "You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord god among the trees of the garden. 9 then God called to Adam and said to him,"Where are you?" 10 So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself".
In the very beginning there was no shame. Adam and Eve had no reason to be ashamed because after God created them He said they were good. They lacked nothing. They were complete and fully accepted by God and by one another. They were enough. And they knew it, they believed it, they believed what God said about them was true. They believed it until, a slick snake slithered over and suggested otherwise. In Genesis 3:5 the serpent raises a new idea they had never considered before. He whispers in their ears for the very first time, you are not enough. Eve succumbed to the temptation and reached for the fruit, bit into it and everything changed. Bitter, ugly sin barged into the world and so did shame.
Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. Shame can happen in an instant or it can develop from events that marinate over a lifetime. Shame says you’re not good enough. Guilt= I have done something bad. Shame = I am bad. When we experience shame, we often will try to ignore or avoid whatever caused the sense of shame. For example, when we feel shame about being overweight, we will avoid the gym or physical activity to avoid the feeling of shame. Guilt is feeling badly about something and can inspire us to act differently in the future.
Shame always leads to disconnection from others. Guilt can lead to healing. Confessing our mistakes allows us to be vulnerable with others, so guilty feelings can prompt us to build a connection through communication or changed behavior. Shame needs three things to grow secrecy, silence & judgment. Shame prevents us from feeling strong enough to confess our mistakes, making us defensive when others point them out. The bottom line with shame is the less you talk about it the more you have it. If someone tells you they have no shame - pull up a chair and lend them an ear, it’s time to practice empathy.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16.
The antidote to shame is empathy. We need to talk about our shame. Shame cannot survive being spoken, when shame is spoken and met with empathy is ceases to exist. Coming along side someone in the midst of a shame storm and simply saying "me too" or "I understand" is powerful. Brene' Brown is careful to explain that you should only share your story with the people in your Arena. You share your story with people that have earned the right to hear your story.
The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right in this moment. When we keep our shame secret and silent we internalize the negative emotions and our self-talk becomes: I am bad, I am not worthy, I am awful, horrible. We sew fig leaves for ourselves. We attempt to hide our shame, justify or attempt to cover trying to cover our shame through our works and accomplishments. We attempt to cover who we are with what we do. When we try to heal our shame with accomplishments it never works. It might seem like it’s working for a short time, but we will only make matters worse. Brene' Brown outlines the three shields we use to hide from our shame as:
Perfectionism - we chase perfectionism to protect ourselves from the potentially painful stuff. We believe if people see us as perfect it will cover our feelings of shame. We have a tendency to judge our insides by everyone else’s outsides. That leads to feeling inadequate. Comparison is the thief of happiness. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit in with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing and providing.
Numbing - any activity that we use to numb our feelings (eating, gossiping, alcohol and drugs) so that we don’t experience vulnerability— but by numbing ourselves to vulnerability, we also numb ourselves to love, belonging, creativity, and empathy. We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.
Foreboading Joy - “Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience,” Brown says. When we cannot tolerate joy, we start dress rehearsing tragedy. We imagine something bad is going to happen when in reality, nothing is wrong. We tell ourselves "my job is going great, my parents are good, my kids are doing well - this can't last".
Think about the story in Eden. If the fig leaves had really covered their shame, why did Adam and Eve hide in the bushes after they had made themselves a covering? It becomes obvious that, although they attempted to deal with their own shame through their accomplishments, it didn’t work. If it did they would’ve been standing in the middle of the garden in confidence. Like Adam and Eve, our human instinct is to hide our shame. We attempt to cover it with modern-day fig leaves, ranging from addictions to fast paced living and busyness. We bury our shame beneath perfectionism and good deeds.
How do we heal shame? Let’s return to the story of Eden. Adam and Eve had sewn their fig leaves to cover their shame. But then God came and called them. When Adam confessed to hiding because of the shame of his nakedness, God asks, “who told you that you were naked”? “Did you eat the fruit ?”. Once God had clearly convicted them of sin, and as Adam and Eve were leaving the garden, God sacrificed a lamb to make them a covering for their shame. But here's what we maybe don't think about: in order to accept God's covering for shame, His healing of their shame, they had to take off their fig leaves. They had to stand naked before Him in the reality of their shame, not hiding it, not denying it, but confessing their shame. Only then was God free to cover their shame for them. The fact is that a person can never cover their own shame, no matter what achievements they try to use because the healing of shame takes place as much in the undressing as it does in the covering. The healing of shame is in having someone see you in all your shame and, knowing you as you are. The healing takes place when God says “I see you as you are and I will accept you and cover your shame”. If we take off our fig leaves before God, stand spiritually naked before him admitting that we are "not right", open ourselves to God's love and acceptance we will find true healing of our shame.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25
Psalm 34:5 Those who look to him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.
Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen. To be authentic we need to practice vulnerability. Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. Owning our story and sharing it with others is one of the bravest things we will ever do. To be vulnerable is to be courageous. It's about the willingness to show up and be seen in our lives. What is vulnerability? Sitting with a friend who has been diagnosed with Stage III cancer. A first date after a divorce, saying I love you first, asking for a raise. Vulnerability is courage. It's about the willingness to show up and be seen in our lives. And those moments when we show up are the most powerful meaning-making moments of our lives. Even if they don't go well, they define who we are. God is deeply committed and invested in helping us find and develop our strengths and talents, of being the person He created us to be. We are uniquely created with specific strengths and talents. He has given them to us to use so that His glory can shine though us and our work.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
Our sense of worthiness – that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging – lives inside of our story.