Book Notes: I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown

This post was started in June 2017… It was just found today.

In Chapter 1 of I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t): Taking the Journey from “What People Think?” to “Am I Enough” by Brene Brown, I was brought back to a parenting moment, a few years ago… (I didn’t know how to put it into words but Brene shared it beautifully), “You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behaviors.”

When my youngest started middle school I was attempting to move my three kids toward more independence.  One night, my eleven year old was very upset and said to me, “You are shaming me about brushing my teeth”.  It cut to my core.  And I ended up feeling my cheeks “red with shame”.  I took a deep breath and vowed to shift my parenting strategies toward developing kids who would become great adults through relationship, connectedness, compassion, and non-judgmental love.  It’s been an interesting journey, and I loved every minute of it.  I blogged about my attempt to use Vicki Hoefle’s guide: Duct Tape Parenting.

As I journey into “Forever Sobriety”, I’ve come across this book, by Brene Brown, and it is really helping me to understand the feelings that I had about myself after being drunk. The Next Day Shame that spiraled me down into the ugly dark place.

Brene introduces her book by introducing shame and the responses people have to the concept of shame.  Through her years of research she notes that, “We FEEL shame. We THINK self-esteem).  Shame is an experience that is becoming a destructive part of our culture.  She feels the best way to overcome shame is to tell our stories…and that takes courage.

We have a human need to belong, relate, and feel connected.  Shame takes that away. Brown introduces the idea of shame resilience.  Courage, empathy, and compassion are key components to shame resilience.  The notes that compassion is not a virtue, but a commitment.

She has organized the book into eleven chapters.  In Chapter 1, she shares stories to build definitions of not just shame, but also: guilt, humiliation, and embarassment.  In Chapter 2, she explores shame resilience and revisits the four big basics.

Chapters 3-6 will dive deeper into empathy, courage, compassion, and connection and how women with shame resilience had these four things in common.  She presents strategies and how to put them in place.

Shame is driven by fear, blame, and disconnection.  In Chapters 7-9 she explores these and other issues such as perfectionism, stereotyping, gossiping, and addiction to gain awareness of how these problems deflate resilenece to shame.

Her finals chapters present ideas for changing our culture.  What does shame resilience mean for all of us and our multiple generations.  She is hopeful and confident that everyone can develop shame resilience.  Her biggest hope is that we share our stories and connect so that we are not alone.

NOTES

Isn’t it amazing that when someone else tells us a story, similar to our own we can feel a spectrum of things from physical pain to relief that we are not alone.  When I hear other blog stories, along the journey of sobriety, I am pleased that I have moved away from fresh memories of self-damaging shame and toward brighter shame resilience and connectedness.  Brene defines:

“Shame is the intensely painful feeling of experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging”.

Chapter 1 also goes onto to differentiate between embarrassment, guilt, humiliation and how they differ from shame.  Embarrassment is the least powerful of the emotions.  But as I reflect as a teen, I think what I should have shrugged off as this…I turned to shame in myself…that I was bad and imperfect.  I became uncomfortable in my own skin.  Guilt and Shame are both emotions of self-evaluation.  But guilt can be a motivator for change, where shame can lead to poor decision choices.  Humiliation is where we get publicly called out and whether or not we deserve it is the differentiator.  The research shows if we feel we deserved the humiliation, we are more likely to find ourself in a place of shame.

Brown uses a shame web to explain expectations of: who-what-how we should be according to our community.  She finishes the chapter with shame connections to fear, blame, power, and disconnection.

In Chapter 2,

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June 2, 2020… I’ve been rereading my Blog Posts… connecting myself to my own “Operator’s Manual”.  This was an incomplete post…

There are no coincidences… that I found it today.. It reminds me that I am a learning, growing, evolving human…who needs to give herself compassion on her own journey.