Sunday, July 24, 2016
Share Your Imperfection
That sounds pretty scary, "Share your imperfection." We spend a lot of time and energy trying to appear perfect. So why would we want to share our imperfection?
Because it is the only way we can have real connection, honest communication, strong relationships. There have to be people in our lives with whom we can have connection. Connection is "the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance ans strength from the relationship." (1)
When you have that kind of relationship you know it is safe to share your imperfections. With this person you can share how stupid you felt because of this or that; you can share your sense of shame and be assured that you are a good person; you can share your deepest hurts and begin healing. And you can be the person who give the other assurance, affirmation, healing. Imagine a world where everyone felt safe to share their imperfection.
This deep sense of belonging, of love, is a need we all share. Yet, because we have been judged, shamed, hurt, we deny ourselves of that kind of relationship out of a fear of being hurt again. We need to draw on our self-worth, or knowing that we are worthy simply because we are who we are. And we have to begin to take the risk of connecting.
Love and belonging, basic needs of all humans. And presenting ourselves as perfect just hasn't worked. Basically, because we know we aren't perfect we end up being false and closed off from openness for fear others will find out we are imperfect. We even limit our self-love because we think we have to be more than we are. And without healthy self-love, we can't really give and receive love with others.
To love ourselves we have to treat ourselves with respect, to learn to trust ourselves to be kind and gentle with ourselves, to stop shaming ourselves, to stop being so judgmental with ourselves. When we nurture our self-love we will be better able to truly connect with others. I don't know about you, but I find that to be an ongoing challenge in a world that sets out to blame, shame, and disrespect us.
But it is definitely worth it. My most meaningful relationships have come from sharing my vulnerability with another.
So if we are going to live joyful and meaningful lives, we must talk to each other about the things that get in the way of our connecting and loving one another. We have to talk about shame and fear and vulnerability. Find at least one person you can take that risk with, and share your imperfection.
Shame is powerful, more powerful when not talked about. Shame has become the weapon of choice in this election year. Name calling, a tactic learned in grade school, has become virulent. Blaming is used to defend oneself instead to claiming responsibility. Belittling is so popular that few even complain about it any more.Bullying is everywhere now, not just in grade school yards. There is little wonder that shame has created a climate of believing we are not worthy of respect or love because we are flawed.
We need to realize that the less we talk about shame the more we have it. Secrecy, silence and judgement keep shame alive a well. Talking about our imperfection, our vulnerability, with someone empowers is to develop more courage, connectedness, and compassion.
Do you know the difference between shame and guilt? Shame = I am bad. Guilt = I did something bad. It is like the difference between secret and private. And as long as we keep our shame secret we cannot feel good about ourselves. I may share my guilty feelings with someone in private, since I may not need to share it with everyone. But I know that I can claim my guilt in public if I need to, because I am not bad because I've done a bad thing. This is important to teach our children. They need to know that some things are private but not secret. If they don't know this they will not be able or willing to tell you when someone does something bad to them. And using shame to parent teaches children they are not worthy of love.
(I found it interesting that the differences noted above were lessons that sex-offenders and other addicts needed to learn. For without healthy self-worth they could/would continue in their harmful behaviors.)
(1) The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene' Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.