OPRAH’S SUPER SOUL CONVERSATIONS – Episode 244

When I was talking to my mom about some of the podcasts I’d been listening to, she suggested that Brene Brown was the go-to on the topics I’d been researching. My mom has a deep respect for Brene Brown and her work. So, when I came across Oprah’s conversation with Brene Brown, my interest was, of course, peaked.

Questions I had when I came across the podcast:

  • What/how does Brene Brown teach that is different than what I’d been studying up to this point in my journey?
  • Can understanding Brene Brown help me better understand where my mom is coming from?

Brene Brown was very fun to listen to. This episode referred back to another episode that she’d done with Oprah. Because I’d not heard that episode, my notes from the podcast were a bit jumbled. Then she got to the meat of her message – the topic that Brene has spent her career studying: SHAME.

Let’s talk about shame. What is it? How do we support those who have come to us in their shame – mostly I want to look at how we support those who have come to us in their shame. How do we, ourselves, become more resilient to shame?

SHAME DEFINED: The intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.

We all have it. It is the most human, primitive emotion.

And the difference between guilt and shame? “I DID SOMETHING BAD” vs “I AM BAD”.

“I’m so sorry, I MADE A MISTAKE” vs “I’m so sorry, I AM A MISTAKE”.

“We’ve got to talk about shame… Secrecy, silence, and judgement. Those grow shame into every corner and crevice or your life.”

Let’s talk about talking about it. This is an area that I have only recently noticed my inadequacy in. This is an area in which future-me is wholly comfortable and adequate and even peaceful when facing. How do we do this? When someone has come to us with their shame, how do we talk to them about their shame?

“Shame cannot survive empathy. Shame depends on my buying into the belief that I am alone. If I feel someone’s empathy, and believe it, then the shame is gone… But (in looking for empathy) if we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”

Where am I on this list – what kind of friend am I? And in which relationships?

  • The friend who gasps, and shows you how shamed you should be, then there is awkward silence. Then you have to make HER feel better. Ugh.
  • The friend who responds with sympathy rather than empathy. “I am so sorry for you”. “Oh, you poor thing.” “Bless your heart.”
  • The friend who needs you to be the pillar of worthiness and authenticity. She can’t help you because she is too disappointed by your imperfections.
  • The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that she scolds, how did you let this happen.
  • The friend who wants to make it all better, and out of her own discomfort, refuses to acknowledge that you could actually be crazy and make terrible choices. “It wasn’t that bad.”
  • The friend who confuses connection with the opportunity to one-up you. “That’s nothing. Listen to what happened to me.”

When someone is able to be vulnerable about something that has shamed them, what are they really looking for?

“I am looking for the person who loves me, not despite my imperfection and vulnerability, but because of it. I am looking for the folks who will show up and wade through the deep with me.”

We are looking for someone who can say, “All right. Let’s do this thing.”

PROBLEMS: 1) It is hard to practice compassion when we are struggling with our own authenticity, or if our own sense of worthiness is off balance. 2) Can one person be that friend to everyone who comes to them, in need of empathy? Is it possible that I am not the person my parents should be coming to, to “wade through the deep” with them? Or am I exactly the right person, because of the lessons in compassion that I need to learn?

We are not going to do empathy perfectly 100% of the time. I know that. But, where am I today? Who am I meant to be?

“Love and belonging are needs in men and women. In the absence of love and belonging, there will always be suffering. It is not negotiable. We are hard wired for connection, love, and belonging.”

And…

“Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued. When they can give and receive without judgement.”

Is “connecting” with someone different than “wading through it” with someone?

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I am going to jump to something off-topic – something that Oprah closed her episode with. It is Brene Brown’s The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto. Absolutely beautiful:

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions–the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.

We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.

You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.

I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.

I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.

We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.

As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly. I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.