The Red Couch: Daring Greatly Reflection

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BookClub-ASiobhan and I sit in comfy chairs on the patio. She dabs at her latte, foam crinkling in the cup, and I sip decaf English Breakfast tea with a splash of honey and cream. We wrap blankets around our chests, our laps, our feet, because spring is still springing, and the sun is a sneaky, frigid version of not-so-warm. Although the chairs lean towards each other, they mostly face the blue and green of sky and grass, aimed at backyard fence. I think this makes it easier. Like walking side by side, the intimacy of eye contact becomes a secondary effect, and while we’re still getting to know each other, it’s easier to share those scary and vulnerable pieces of our stories.

Because we soon find ourselves talking about shame.

It wasn’t part of the agenda, but when you have time and space in conversation, when there’s that much room to breathe, and you feel safe and secure under a lap blanket, you run with it. You go for it.

Siobhan stares straight ahead; tears glisten in her eyes, as she tells me the grip shame has held on her life. I didn’t realize how much I’d let it define me until I began writing about it, she states simply. It wasn’t a journaling exercise. My friend isn’t a blogger, nor is she an aspiring author—but in the process of writing a paper for a seminary class, she found herself going back to the idea of shame. And so she began researching shame from a biblical perspective, finding solace in the brave woman who touched the hem of the Healer’s robe; she looked at the concept of shame through a modern-day cultural perspective, wondering how she might apply this to the teenagers she worked with on a daily basis.

“And did you use Brene Brown as a reference?” I ask her, nodding, because of course Brown must have been the instigating force behind her realization.

Siobhan shakes her head, no. She’s never heard of the woman.

I run upstairs, skimming crowded bookshelves for Daring Greatly, wondering how Brown’s words will speak truth to our hearts today. I return, book in hand, nestling under the blanket again, while my friend fixedly stares at the fence in front of her.

We all have shame. We all have good and bad, dark and light, inside of us. But if we don’t come to terms with our shame, our struggles, we start believing that there’s something wrong with us—that we’re bad, flawed, not good enough—and even worse, we start acting on those beliefs. If we want to be fully engaged, to be connected we have to be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable, we need to develop resilience to shame (61).

“She took the words right out of my mouth,” Siobhan whispers, haunted.

I begin to read all the underlined passages in chapter 3, “Understanding and Combating Shame.” Siobhan’s tears now flow freely, while the author’s words impact our deepest selves, page by page, underlined word after word. For the next hour, we breathe the shame researcher’s words in and out; we interject thoughts and reflections from our own stories, or she tells me another excerpt from her paper.

Then we make our way back to the center of the chapter, to the crux of the entire book perhaps; we muse aloud as to how we might imitate Brown’s “warrior gremlin moves that are the most effective path to shame resilience…” (80). Like the strings we tied around our fingers when we were little girls, in an effort to remember and not forget whatever that thing was, we vow to do the same with lap blankets. Our lives don’t lend us the luxury of living wrapped under the safety and security of the lap blanket every hour of the day, so when that treat comes, we’ll choose to remember Brown’s words. We’ll choose to practice shame resilience, even if just for a moment.

  1. We’ll practice courage and we’ll reach out, “…not despite our vulnerabilities, but because of them” (80).

  1. We’ll talk to ourselves the way we’d talk to someone we love. Like the blanket, we’ll lend comfort to ourselves.

  1. And finally, we’ll own our story—we’ll not bury our shame, letting it fester or define us. But we’ll write the ending.

Might this practice, this challenge be the same for you?

Regardless of whether or not you end up reading Daring Greatly, every time you snuggle up beneath the comfort of your lap blanket, might you receiving a showering of grace as you begin to practice your own warrior gremlin moves: practice courage, love yourself and own your story.

I’m reaching for my lap blanket now.

Reminder:

Come back Wednesday April 23 for the discussion post, led by Sarah Caldwell. Join the Facebook group to share quotes and discuss the book throughout the month. On Twitter, the official Red Couch Book Club hashtag is #redcouchbc. Our May book is Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament.

How can you practice shame resilience today?

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Image credit: Ryan Hyde

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Cara Meredith
Cara is a writer, speaker and musician from the greater San Francisco Bay Area. She is chipping away at her first book when not searching for the world’s greatest chips and guacamole. She loves people, food, reading, the great outdoors and her family. She and the HBH (Hot Black Husband), try to dance nightly and live life to the fullest with their two young sons.
Cara Meredith
Cara Meredith

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  • JennaDeWitt

    Yes yes! me too! I am that friend, handing people copies of (or hyperlinks to) Brown’s books and videos because gremlins and courage and learning to write my story… and I need to be reminded over and over.

    • carameredith.com

      Absolutely, Jenna. It’s a message all of us need to hear, over and over again. On another note, I loved hearing Anne Lamott speak last week, when she affirmed the power of handing people a book they just might need… Words = power!

      • JennaDeWitt

        It’s the vulnerability research version of pay-it-forward. tehehe As it was given to me and rocked my world, so I give to others. 😀

  • Cara – these words are so beautiful–thank you for them!! 🙂 I never related to the women with this issue of blood in Scripture (that touched the hem of Jesus’ garment) until I had a HUGE (think size of a cataloupe) fibroid tumor removed from my uterus a few years back. It made me hemmorage for 9 months. Suddenly, I was reading that passage over and over for solace. To say I felt shame from the whole experience was an understatement. I wish I had known about Brene’s research and words back then, but I’m SO grateful to have found them now. I love your terminology of ‘warrior gremlin moves’ — yes, yes! May we all be courageous enough to practice shame resilience! Thank you for speaking into my experience today, Cara! Blessings to you, friend.

    • carameredith.com

      And Sarah, thank YOU for stabbing shame in the side and sharing boldly on the site! Here’s to our super sword fighting warrior gremlin moves, indeed!

    • I actually love the woman with the issue of blood. Love her chutzpah, in spite of her shame.

      Also: I had to “be” her during a group sermon we shared in Serbia. (Yes, we did a group sermon.) She was the woman i could most identify with at the time.

  • Wow. Cara, it’s so tricky to write about a book, but you have done it so beautifully. Just wow.

    • carameredith.com

      Oh thank you, Idelette. I look forward to writing more for you!

  • After reading Brown’s book, my biggest take-away was the choice of vulnerability. As you said, even if just for a moment, choosing to practice vulnerability is life-changing.

    • So, so true – such wisdom! The way you put this is such a good way to remember it. So many of us have been taught that vulnerability just ‘happens’, as ‘weakness’. Amen that vulnerability as a choice is one of the best choices we could ever make! 🙂

    • carameredith.com

      The CHOICE of vulnerability – well said, Annie!

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  • Byrdie

    I have had the great pleasure of flying to Texas to become trained in Brené’s work. Her work has changed my life and I am so privileged to share this work with others 🙂 Game changers for me? 1) Recognizing the shame in my life, learning about my triggers and how to reach out before shame dunks me and holds me under, 2) “you can be afraid and brave in the exact same moment” – Brené, and 3) learning that I am enough without trying. Wow, just wow.

    • carameredith.com

      Byrdie, what a privilege INDEED to learn underneath Brown herself. I’m jealous! (But I’m grateful that the takeaway from her is big enough for a “wow, just wow”!

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