The Power of Vulnerability and Connection2

This is the inherent power of vulnerability and connection. Connection to others is another one of those human defaults—we’re wired to be a part of a tribe, to be intimately connected with other people, to let ourselves be seen and known. We lose our way away from this default for all sorts of reasons, but when we’ve lost our way, we return to it by letting ourselves be seen and known once more. (Even when it defies everything our internal feedback loop is telling us about our unworthiness of connection.)

As we allow others into our internal feedback loop, especially if it is a terribly toxic space, we are likely to find that what feels like reality is in fact, not. When our head tells us that we’re a trash human, and someone else tells us that that’s absurd, we immediately smash the potency of that internal dialogue. To be certain, this requires vulnerability—the willingness to be seen and heard is a challenging decision to come to. But it is critical.

Ever heard the phrase “we’re only as sick as our secrets”? This is the core of that theory. Our secrets perpetuate the toxic internal feedback loop, and we become very (spiritually) ill. And this is something that comes up often in the alcohol-free community—this feeling of shame and secrecy and an overall sense of being a trash human. We wonder why we can’t “drink responsibly,” as the advertisements say, we wonder why we can’t drink like everyone else can, we wonder why our willpower just isn’t strong enough. We experience each hangover as a shame experience of its own, and every headache confirms our trash human status. We begin to shrink—pulling away from others, hiding, not allowing ourselves to be seen. (Or, at least, I did.)

Today, consider the validity of your internal feedback loop. Is it based in reality, or are there stories of shame spinning around in there? How might connection change the plotline?

Brown, B. (2013, January.) Shame v. guilt. Brené Brown.

Selva, J. (2020, September.) Shame Resilience Theory: How to Respond to Shame. Positive Psychology.