“Nothing silences us more effectively than shame . . . in this culture, telling our stories takes courage.” Research professor and thought leader Brene Brown, Ph.D. LMSW powerfully makes the case for sharing our stories in her top-sellling book, I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame.
Only by breaking silence and beginning to risk vulnerability through sharing our stories can we become free of the illusion that “there is something wrong with ME.” We begin to dissolve our sense of separation and isolation when we grasp that often the shame we carry is part of a much bigger picture than our own personal and individual selves. For example, Brene Brown shares that in her years of researching shame, 90% of the women she interviewed felt shame about their bodies, the way they looked. Clearly, there are more factors at play here than a individual women’s personal sense of inadequacy, inferiority and “not-good- enough”-ness.
Brene Brown goes on to claim that context is key , that “when we understand the context of an experience, we see the big picture . . . When we are in shame, we just see our own struggle. As we zoom out, we start to see others engaged in similar struggles. When we pull completely back, we start to see an even bigger picture — how political, economic and social forces shape our personal experiences.”
We are called to share our stories, to speak out with courage and vulnerability: “Shame only works if we think we are alone in it.”