The Power of Vulnerability and Connection
“Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgement.” -Dr. Brene Brown
Before we dive into the “how,” the concrete steps that Dr. Brown has laid out for us in her Shame Resilience Theory, let’s take a moment to first examine the “why.” Why is SRT so effective for dismantling shame, and how do we get into shame in the first place?
Shame isn’t necessarily the human default—as we explored yesterday, there’s no evolutionary benefit to shame. Experiencing errors and mistakes from a shame standpoint doesn’t help us assimilate to the tribe, doesn’t help us run from dinosaurs, doesn’t help us find more dopamine. In fact, it likely does the opposite of all of these things, as we know that shame often leads to the repetition of the behavior that got us here in the first place.
Guilt, on the other hand, makes a lot more sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Make a mistake that impacts the tribe, feel bad about it, and then correct the behavior next time. Maintain membership of the tribe, which provides food, shelter, and connection. Guilt should be the human default… but as we know from our lived experiences, that’s not always the reality.
How do we arrive at a shame experience? How does shame become our default?
Shame is a self-perpetuating experience. It’s its own self-sustaining system; experience shame, internalize shame, decide you’re a trash human, experience new shame, deepen the confidence in your trash human status, and so one. When the only person in our feedback loop—the thing that confirms or denies the way we understand our experience—is us, we believe a thought, confirm the thought, and then solidify its reality.
And we disrupt this shame-based internal feedback loop by adding someone else to the loop.