“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light” Brene Brown
I’m reading one of Brene Brown’s books currently and am loving it. She is a researcher focused on the usually taboo subject of shame. It is so refreshing to read her work, which is based in science and data, and yet resonates so very deeply with my experience of being a woman, and a human, living in the society we share.
What so strongly calls to me in Brene’s work is the way she makes clear that we do not address shame by avoiding it. We can’t run towards the light and hope our darkness will not catch us up.
So often what brings people into therapy is that this approach is just not working. When we ignore symptoms, they get bigger, louder, and more persistent, a bit like an ignored toddler or teenager! By the time people arrive in relationship with me, their symptoms are affecting day to day life and the discomfort is palpable.
Brene teaches us to turn towards what is difficult, and to name what causes us to feel shame. Shame lives only in the shadows. When you speak out loud how you feel its power is lessened, and over time, while you may still feel discomfort, the feelings are no longer running you, you are resilient to them and able to see them for what they are (well, most of the time!).
If there are aspects of your life, or yourself, that provoke shame in you, finding ways to share them can be empowering. Speak to someone you love and trust to empathise. Find support groups for whatever it is you are facing. And if needed, seek professional help.
Shame ignored will get bigger, bolder, and more restrictive. Light and dark are not opposites, they are complementary aspects of the wholeness that we are. You just don’t get one without the other.