“[S]hame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection? The things I can tell you about it: It’s universal; we all have it. The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it, the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this ‘I’m not good enough,’ — which, we all know that feeling: ‘I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.’ The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability. This idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.” ~ Brené Brown
I believe that finding (and speaking with) your authentic voice is essential to being fully alive, connected, and creative. Revealing whom we truly are, what we believe and value, what and whom we love, as well as what keeps us up at night and what gets us up early can be very scary business. Allowing ourselves to be fully seen risks rejection, ridicule, and shame.
Stepping fully into our voice, therefore, requires complete vulnerability.
As Brené Brown notes, vulnerability is a two-sided coin. In her TED Talk entitled “The Power of Vulnerability,” she said, “vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” That is, if we want to experience the thrill and deep satisfaction of connection, we must be willing to have the courage to be imperfect while being immensely kind and compassionate with ourselves.
So, how do we clear our nervous throats and begin to speak, write, and show up fully?
Courage is a muscle that is willing to work if you decide to make a move. The first move can be quite small — something that stretches you beyond comfort, but is a relatively easy thing to accomplish. You might begin with close friends and/or family members who love you unconditionally. Test out what feels like a brave comment, position, or truth telling.
Once you realize you have spoken your truth (and the world did not stop spinning on its axis), your courage muscles and reserves will grow. Most likely, you will also enjoy a deeper connection with those of whom you chose to share. Another deep breath in, and you are ready to move a bit further outside of your zone of comfort and share again — perhaps this time in a more public arena.
There will be moments of stumble. There will be moments of raw, naked exposure. There will be moments of ick from trolls online or in real life.
The mantra I repeat to myself is this: “I want to live fully, to create with great passion, and to serve with my whole heart. I crave connection and being seen. This requires courage, and it is worth every moment of vulnerability.”
Let us see and hear you. As you find your voice, you help us find ours.