I am almost finished reading Brene Brown’s Atlas of the Heart; actually I am listening to the audiobook, narrated by Brown herself, and let me just say—feels like Brene is talking directly to me, like we are having a conversation and she is revealing to me the secrets of my heart. When she got to the chapter on shame, which is something I am very familiar with, I was a little scared but also eager to hear what she had to say.
Shame, she says, is the fear of disconnection. Shame is normal. We all feel it to some degree because we are hardwired for social connection and thus fear disconnection. And perfectionism, which I am also all too familiar with,is a common response to feelings of shame; we hope to stave off any feelings of shame by well—just being perfect at everything. Perfect mom, wife, perfect not-ever-aging woman who can do a downward dog and file her taxes and speak ten languages. Maybe then I won’t be alone…
But, come on…does perfectionism ever feel healthy? Purposeful? Good in the bones? Not for me. Nor does shame. The I fear being rejected so I’ll try to be perfect just doesn’t work anymore. Actually, it never did.
What is the cure? Well, there’s no cure for shame. Again, we are hardwired to be in connection with others. But here’s the thing, if we change who we are to belong or we stress ourselves out on the pointless path of perfection, we will never find peace. EVER. EVER. EVER.
So, we start by seeing belonging within ourselves. We live within our value system. We love and accept ourselves with ALL of our messiness—unconditionally. And then we seek belonging with others who love and accept us unconditionally—with all of our messiness. Not everyone will. That’s life. We can’t and shouldn’t expect everyone to like us or even want to be around us.
But the more we love ourselves by connecting deeply to our truth, we will find others who are doing the same. And then it spreads. The love, it just grows. One little step at a time.