In our last post I shared how learning to have self-compassoin, a fundamental part of overcoming shame, begins by changing our internal dialogue. One of the ways I believe we change our internal dialogue is by having the courage to connect with others.
Connection has a much deeper role in our fight with shame than only helping us change our internal dialogue. Living in authentic connection-authentic community is what we are biologically wired for as humans. Learning to live authentically is learning to live in connection and when we are living in connection shame is easily silenced.
What is Connection?
“Connection is our ability to forge meaningful, authentic relationships with other people. I believe connections is the essence of the human experience… It is what gives meaning to our lives.” – Brene Brown
Imagine connection as a continuum, on either side of the continuum are empathy and shame. Empathy drives us to meaningful relationships while shame drives us away, into isolation.
We move along the connection continuum as we become more vulnerable. At our highest vulnerability, we are open to share strengths and weaknesses; we are deeply connected – giving and receiving empathy freely. Inversely, when we are at our lowest vulnerability we withdraw, attempting to hide in fear of disconnection.
Connection is fostered in empathy. Empathy is about being vulnerable with people in their vulnerability. Empathy is choosing to feel with people instead of feel for them. Empathy creates a space where people feel seen, heard, and valued; in this space is real connection.
As we choose empathy we may be tempted to give up self in an effort to create connection. Authentic connection is created when we are able to fully understand the depth of the pain while being able to stay differentiated.
We can focus on three primary areas as we grow in our ability to embrace empathy. (1) Learning to see through the perspective of another person. (2) Learning to offer compassion, rather than judgement. (3) Learning to recognize the emotions of others.
As we grow in our ability to choose empathy, we are growing in our ability to conquer our shame and are creating a safe space for others to also.
image credit: Just Ard