Embracing Our Whole Self

-By Arianne R. Weeks, M.Div., Certified Daring Way Facilitator™

We all have it.  Nobody wants to talk about it.

The above sentiment comes from the Daring Way™ curriculum. And the “it” in question is shame. A feeling that can overwhelm us or merely cause a flush of our cheeks. The degree of intensity varies based on the situation but the immediacy with which shame is felt in our bodies and emotions is something almost all of us can relate to. Our response to that feeling directly impacts what we say, do, and think and that response makes all the difference to our living courageous wholehearted lives.

We can learn a lot about where our shame comes from when we get curious about our critics – the ones outside, and the ones inside.

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and unworthy of love and belonging. Shame is different than guilt in that it manipulates us into thinking our very self is the problem. Guilt, on the other hand, is recognizing when we’ve made a mistake. The insidious nature of shame says something is wrong with who we are, so we don’t want to talk about it, we want to hide from it. This secrecy and isolation is what shame needs to thrive.

I will tell you, even writing about shame is hard. It automatically triggers some of my own responses (clenched jaw, butterflies in the stomach). It takes work and practice to recognize the physical and emotional reflexes shame generates and to cultivate self-compassion and new ways of thinking and responding. This is the core of Brené Brown’s research that you may know from Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong and she has launched a movement committed to helping all of us understand how courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy impact our lives.

This fall I will lead a Daring Way Intensive™ through Well for the Journey. Through the group work of these three sessions we will focus on developing shame resilience skills and daily practices that will transform the way we see and live our lives. Every time I have led a group intensive, participants come to the work eager to meet others who care about engaging these topics. A little nervous, yes. But also recognizing they are on the cusp of some life-changing learning. Learning that shines light on those hard places. And once you shine the light, well, the darkness cannot overcome it.

If these topics resonate with you I hope you’ll consider participating in this work.  It is intensive and participation is limited to ten people. The upcoming group begins on Nov. 30 and you can register through Well for the Journey. To learn more about Brené Brown and The Daring Way, visit www.daringway.com.

Arianne R. Weeks is a Certified Daring Way Facilitator™ who leads intensives and workshops in the Baltimore area and is an Episcopal priest at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Towson.

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