“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…” Theodore Roosevelt
Show Up/Be Seen/Live Brave™: that is the tagline of The Daring Way™ created by Dr. Brené Brown and her team. Dr. Brown asserts that we all have ‘arenas’ (the perfect metaphor from the famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt above) in our lives where we want to be vulnerable, own our stories, and live courageously.
As I write this post, I am reminded of the seats in my arena that I know are there; they are real, and filled with voices, messages, and expectations. I can hear the voices of criticism (“no one is going to read this post”), comparison (“you can’t write as well as the others who contribute here”), scarcity (“you are not competent enough to write this”), and shame (“who do you think you are, you are not a writer!”).
I will choose to focus on the two most important seats in the arena, empathy and self-compassion, and keep writing. I receive empathy and my inner critic fades, when I share my fear with others, and they don’t judge me, they see my point of view, and they tell me that they have felt the same fear when they vulnerably put themselves “out there.” When I realize I am not alone, that others have felt the same way I do, and I then speak to myself with kindness, this self-compassion helps me feel safer and braver, and my shame begins to whither.
We all have shame (unless we do not have the ability to connect, and most of us can connect if we choose to).
It is not about having resistance to shame. We need to be able to speak shame and become resilient to it.
In her research on shame, Dr. Brown gives us four components of shame resilience.
- We must be able to recognize it. Do you know how shame feels in your body? Do you understand the triggers that bring it on?
- Can you ‘reality check’? In other words, are the messages you are hearing valid and worthy of being heeded? Or, are they the messages and expectations you get from your own negative thinking, and from the input of others? Are these the messages you want?
- Are you reaching out? Are you being vulnerable with safe people and owning and sharing your story (what is happening in your lives and the meaning you are making from it)?
- Are you sharing your shame with safe people? Are you talking about how you feel and asking for what you need when you feel shame?
Celebrate Recovery is an amazing place to Show Up/Be Seen/Live Brave™. It has all the elements of practicing shame resilience built right in!
At CR we are learning about ourselves by listening to and connecting with others. We get to be vulnerable and tell our stories by giving our testimonies and sharing in a confidential group. We are not keeping any secrets as we have done a fearless moral inventory (step 4). We have a sponsor whom we call and from whom we get empathy. We also practice self-compassion when we share in groups and know that we are not alone. All these components make shame whither and shrivel.
As we work through the 12 steps, we realize that we have done some things that are bad (guilt) but we, ourselves, are not bad (shame), and we can talk about it! We find ourselves feeling freer, better, braver, and more connected with others. We know we are not alone. This in turn helps us to be more compassionate with ourselves and others, breeding an environment where shame is shrinking—along with our hurts, habits, and hang-ups!
We are learning how to live authentic, wholehearted lives, and to cultivate that lifestyle in others. I love it in recovery circles when I hear: “We are glad you are here—keep coming back—it works if you work it, and you are worth it!” Let’s all Show Up/Be Seen/Live Brave™, and CELEBRATE Recovery!
“Owning our story, and loving ourselves through it, is the bravest thing we will ever do.”
~ Brené Brown
~ Contributed by Linda Reed MA, LMHC, CDWF- candidate