The shame that we all share

standard October 11, 2012 1 response

I’ve taken to watching Ted Talks on my smartphone when I run on the treadmill. Watching the news was making me grumpy and just music wasn’t distracting me enough. There are thousands of Ted Talks and never enough time to watch them all, this seems like a great solution.

I run and learn new things. It’s a win/win in my book.

To my delight, on Tuesday I discovered that Brené Brown had given a second Ted Talk, one I hadn’t yet heard.

Of course, I should have considered that Brené has a tendency to speak truths that at times make me cry, but whatever, I can’t be the first person who has raced a machine while crying, right?

Her first talk, which I’ve watched numerous times, have blogged about, and have forced many friends to watch, covered the topic of vulnerability. This new talk dives into the subject of shame, the research subject that originally sent Brené onto her discoveries about vulnerability.


Such a loaded word and concept. Definitely something none of us like to think about, let alone admit we ever feel. We like to pretend that shame is reserved for the huge stuff, that’s it’s linked to big bad things like rape, cheating, or those things that society agrees is wrong. But shame is more than just that, we all experience shame, it’s present in all of our every day lives, parading as something else. And ironically, none of us should feel shame about feeling shame.

According to Brené Brown, while guilt is the focus on behavior, shame is the focus on self. It’s that inner voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough. For women, apparently, shame centers on a “web of unattainable conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be.” (For men shame is different, check out the video below for more details on that.)

Ain’t that the truth…

We are women. We are expected to “do it all, do it perfectly, and never let them see you sweat.”

Did I just make you a tad anxious?

So sorry. It’s not me. It’s society.

That post I wrote last year? About not being Super Woman? I wrote that out of shame I felt over not being able to do it all. The outpouring of love and support shocked me. I thought I’d be flagellated for admitting my failures. Instead I was embraced, not even picked on by a troll.

Shame is also that voice, for me my Egmos, the voice that constantly asks me who I think I am, who talks me out of writing, who talks me into second guessing my choice of topic for my second book.

Why do we let shame cow us? Why do we let shame keep us from being who we want to be? Who we feel we could be?

Does shame only retract when we start talking about it? When we open up and realize we all feel the same way?

If that’s the case, then let’s talk. Let’s share. Let’s let it all out. What does your shame tell you?

I’m a mom who takes good care of her kids, but crappy care of her house. I’m a writer who loves to write, but who rarely lets herself write what she loves. I’m a friend who can’t seem to write to her far flung friends. I’m…

I’m just a woman trying to face her shame so it loses the control it has on her life.

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1 response

  • I have listened to some of her videos actually. I too deal with shame. Sometimes it’s false. Sometimes it was legitimate at some point in the past but dealt with and still trying to hang around. I might listen again.

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