Friday, March 6, 2015

Drops in the pudding

While I spend way too much time on Facebook, it does yield up treasure that I might not have found otherwise, to wit, Brené Brown.  I didn't find her thru her FB page, but thru this little video someone shared about empathy:

I thought it was beautiful and went looking for more, and after about ten more videos thought her work was something I needed to contemplate awhile. And after about two more days thought I needed to order some of her books, which I did after a couple more days.

Why mention the gaps? You see, in between all the video watching and contemplating, if the material is on target for me and is effecting some change in my soul, it makes me feel ill. I get thick headed, a wee bit nauseous in some back corner of my frame that isn't quite my gut or even my heart, just somewhere behind me in that place I can never see with my own eyes. It reminds me of that Dr. Who episode where Donna Noble has that alien thing attached to her back that she can't see, but others sometimes do.

I'm sure therapists have some name for the process, but all I know is I just have to hold steady and not move from where I am for a bit, may be hours, may be days, just until I've got a new equilibrium and the truth is settled into me and the old lie disabled and resigned to the process of extraction. Some old lies I've clung to for a very long time indeed, since I was a little girl for a few of them. I noticed one the other day that if I give it up, I'll end up changing all sorts of habitual behaviors - if I remain conscious of it and persist in removing it. I can see why people defend a belief based on a falsehood, I'm really going to miss the grief that leads to mac n'cheese with chocolate chasers night. The pain is real, but the balm that makes it bearable is really, Really tasty!

At the core of Brené Brown's work and research is shame and vulnerability. The good news is that exploring the nature of shame and learning how to handle vulnerability leads to creativity and Much better friends and friendships. I've heard more than a few explanations of shame, but they were chiefly definitional and no speaker ever wanted to explore or accept the nature of the beast. Most people, like me, just want to pass the multiple choice questions about shame at the end of the lecture and bounce right on to the good stuff about life without shame. Of course, anyone who is afraid of shame is still living in it, probably covering it up with a lot of pompous chatter, and quite possibly trying to transfer their own to anyone vulnerable enough to take it off them. (h/t Pia Mellody)

To my surprise, the way Brené Brown is explaining shame is making the subject tangible and plainly visible to me for the first time. It's ugly, but I'd like to go on and get a grasp on it and do something about it. She promises we only have to walk around the edges of the shame "swamp," not wallow in it, so with a good torch by night and the promise of a much brighter day at the finish, I'm going in. 

These two videos touch on the key points in her work that I would recommend to others. 

Key spot for me in this one was the difference between "fitting in" and "belonging," especially in our family of origin, located at 5:05 to 9:10 mark.

The second is a short video of her speaking to a group, entitled "Shame is a Self-Worth Injury." I had never, ever considered shame an "injury" before, especially since I first learned about shame from sermons. I had tried to learn about it theologically, but it isn't a religious concept, it's a psychological/medical trauma - and if you understand that, then Jesus our Healer starts to make actual sense. Don't worry, Brené doesn't talk about religious cures at all, she's a therapist, let her do her therapy thing, it's good:

About the blog post title? I'll explain it later, gotta run now.

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