A guide to surviving by inspirational Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. She teaches us to run from the destructive voices in our heads.
You’re in it. That warm wash of “not good enough” has taken over. It doesn’t matter how you get into shame; the trick is getting out. In one piece. Without sacrificing your authenticity. As a shame researcher, I know that the very best thing to do in the midst of a shame attack is totally counterintuitive: Practice courage and reach out!
But here’s the tricky part about sharing your story: You can’t call just anyone. If you share your shame story with the wrong person, he or she can easily become one more piece of flying debris in your already dangerous shame storm. We want solid connection in a situation like this—something akin to a sturdy tree firmly planted in the ground. We definitely want to avoid the following:
1. The friend who hears the story and actually feels shame for you. She gasps and confirms how horrified you should be. Then there is awkward silence. Then you have to make her feel better.
2. The friend who responds with sympathy (“I feel so sorry for you”) rather than empathy (“I get it, I feel with you, and I’ve been there”). If you want to see a shame cyclone turn deadly, throw one of these at it: “Oh, you poor thing.” Or, the incredibly passive-aggressive Southern version of sympathy, “Bless your heart.”
3. The friend who needs you to be the pillar of worthiness and authenticity. She can’t help because she’s too disappointed in your imperfections. You’ve let her down.
4. The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that she scolds you: “How did you let this happen? What were you thinking?” Or she looks for someone to blame: “Who was that guy? We’ll kick his ass.”
5. The friend who is all about making it better and, out of her own discomfort, refuses to acknowledge that you can actually be crazy and make terrible choices: “You’re exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad. You rock. You’re perfect. Everyone loves you.”
6. The friend who confuses connection with the opportunity to one-up you: “That’s nothing. Listen to what happened to me one time!”
Of course, we’re all capable of being friends like these—especially if someone tells us a story that gets right up in our own shame grill. We’re human, imperfect and vulnerable. It’s hard to practice compassion when we’re struggling with our authenticity or when our own worthiness is off-balance.
When we’re looking for compassion, we need someone who is deeply rooted, is able to bend and, most of all, embraces us for our strengths and struggles. We need to honor our struggle by sharing it with someone who has earned the right to hear it. When we’re looking for compassion, it’s about connecting with the right person at the right time about the right issue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My9I8q-iJCI
Cool Mona note: More tomorrow on the kind of friend who moves a body. More inspirational stuff from Brene Brown.
You can also share hope. Like maybe today with a friend who needs some. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igj20M84hbo
The following information was completely lifted from the O Magazine.
A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that after healthy people were given nasal drops containing a strain of cold virus, those with six or more types of social ties (including friends coworkers and fellow volunteers) were four times less likely to get sick than those with only one to three types of social relationships.
When researchers from University College London measured cortisol levels (one marker of chronic stress) in individuals 30 minutes after the subjects woke up, they found that the loneliest people had levels 21 percent higher than the most socially connected.
Socializing can give your mind a workout: According to one study, the more frequently people interacted with others, the higher they scored on cognitive tests. Plus, research in the American Journal of Public Health found that among older women, those who had daily contact with friends saw their risk of developing dementia reduced by 43 percent compared with those who had contact less than once a week. This may be because social interaction helps form new synaptic connections, staving off cognitive decline.
Lower Blood Pressure
Researchers have found that people with hypertension who feel they can open up to friends are a third less likely to have their condition go uncontrolled. In another study that tracked people for four years, those who were the least lonely could expect their blood pressure to be 14.4 points lower than that of those who were the most isolated.
In a small study in Psychological Science, researchers monitored college students’ sleep patterns and found that those who reported feeling more connected to their peers fell asleep 14 minutes faster and spent 17 fewer minutes awake during the night than their more solitary counterparts did.
Cool Mona note: Keep those inspiring friendships alive. 5:00 margaritas for all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H6amDbAwlY
Emma Haawk gets real about being disconnected.
In the late 70′s, researchers at UCLA created a Loneliness Scale, which is now the most widely used measure of a person’s relative degree of isolation. With the help of one of the scale’s original creators, we’ve ranked situations (from least to most severe) that can leave you feeling disconnected.
Home Alone on a Friday Night
Unless you were hoping for a quiet evening in, this can be a bummer, eliciting a mild form of situational loneliness—a type of longing that typically passes quickly, says loneliness expert Louise Hawkley, PhD, a senior research scientist at NORC, a public interest nonprofit.
Leaving a Job
“A lot of our relationships are with coworkers,” says Daniel Russell, PhD, co-creator of the UCLA Loneliness Scale. “If you’re no longer going into an office, you lose a significant amount of social contact.” Solidifying relationships at a new job takes time, so your feelings of loneliness could linger for several months.
Moving to a New City
Relocating can trigger extreme feelings of stress and isolation; research suggests it can take up to a year to adjust to new environs. Psychiatrist Richard Schwartz, MD, says, “A big mistake you can make in this situation is to see your loneliness as a personal failing, when it’s an ordinary, though serious, human experience.”
Breakup, Drifting Apart from Friends
Loneliness is a natural reaction to an abrupt split, but bonds with friends often dissolve in subtler ways. “If, for example, an ill parent demands most of your time, friends will respect that, but they may not know when you’re ready to reach out again,” says Schwartz. “That can create a rift.”
When does ordinary loneliness become something more serious?
There’s no set length of time marking the transition from acute to chronic loneliness. What matters is how you deal with your feelings. “Blaming yourself impairs your ability to find satisfaction in any relationship,” says Hawkley.
“You may get used to isolation, which in turn makes it harder to engage socially and pushes you even more to the periphery.” This can cause some to lose trust in everything and everyone around them.
And at its extreme, and in very rare instances, there’s a danger to this kind of loneliness: “I witnessed this while covering the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Arizona, the massacre in Aurora, and the horror in Newtown,” says Sanjay Gupta, MD. “Experts almost always described the shooters as ‘loners’ or ‘isolated.’ While these tragedies brought up many complex issues, including gun control, loneliness is one factor we can address.”
While most people who suffer from loneliness will never turn violent, it’s not a condition we can afford to ignore, says psychiatrist Jacqueline Olds, MD. “Once we acknowledge loneliness—without making a person feel ashamed—we can conquer it.”
Cool Mona note: If we allow it, inspiration will find us. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfuHgzu1Cjg
- 15 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 1/4 medium white onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium tomato, stemmed and halved
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cloves garlic
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 2 tablespoons tequila
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Celery leaves for garnish
- Celery sticks, tortilla or vegetables chips for serving
Combine the chiles and onions in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chiles are tender, about 20 minutes. Drop the tomato in about 5 minutes before the chiles are done. Strain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Put the cooked vegetables, the reserved 1 cup of cooking liquid, the vinegar, sugar, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender, and then puree until very smooth.
Pour the chili-tomato mixture into a mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Use a rubber spatula to help push the mixture through until only the chili and tomato skins remain in the strainer. Discard them.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the strained chili-tomato mixture and cook, stirring and scraping up the bottom frequently, until thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the horseradish, tequila, Worcestershire and some salt. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or overnight. Garnish with celery leaves and a swirl of horseradish. Serve with celery sticks or chips.
Call me and I’ll run over. Also check out Tequila Grilled Shrimp. http://www.coolmona.com/?p=6142
It’s too hard. Zoos are shooting baby giraffes, too many details from North Korea, too many photos from the Syrian refugee camps. I was not prepared to desensitize so every moment of every waking day was not filled with hurt and anxious thoughts. Kidnappers release their hostage’s video, only 1 in 10 domesticated animals find a home and my health insurance cost is now equal to the mortgage. My boat is small, the need is great and it is overwhelming.
I did not sign up for this. And I’m serious about the money. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q4foLKDlcE
Insightful and inspirational Amy Shearn lays out the last ones. Miss the first ones? http://www.coolmona.com/?p=6557
5. (a) Stop Expecting People: To Change
We’ve heard it again and again: Don’t expect that you can revise (or worse, correct) someone. Loving people means loving them the way they are. Like, for example, those people in your family—you know, the ones whom you have known your whole life? You know how your little sister has always had temper tantrums when she gets hangry (half-hungry, half-angry, all-unbearable) from the day she ate her first bite right up until her wedding morning? You know how your father has always gotten grumpy when his routine gets upended making him a rotten traveler? Right. Those things are not going to change just because pants styles, presidents and gas prices have.
(b) Stop Expecting People: Not to Change
And, yet. Let’s not get cynical, here. The truth is somewhere in between people changing and never changing. Don’t discount the person who sets out to make a switch. When your friend swears she’s giving up her constant, compulsive, IRL-conversation-killing texting habit, don’t roll your eyes and text her, “Yeah, right.” Sometimes a big part of a person changing is having the support of her friends and family—the more people believe in this new her, this her that doesn’t constantly have a smartphone in her hands, the more she’ll be able to picture what this new her can really become.
6. Stop Expecting People: To Give You a Dream Compliment
You spent what you usually spend on a week’s worth of groceries on getting your hair done—the color, the cut, the blow-out—and it’s perfect. And yet, people at the party compliment your shoes. Yes, your 15-year-old shoes, bought before the invention of Zappos, fished out of the back of the closet at the last minute. Have the grace to take a compliment for what it is, rather than moping over all the other great things about you that they overlooked—your great vision for your company (when they instead laud your ability to make peace among warring co-workers); your ninja-like hedge-clipping (when they simply praise your lawn as “tidy”). There will be an opportunity for you to wow them in the way you most want to. Greatness never goes undetected for long.
Amy Shearn is the author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn: A Novel and How Far Is the Ocean from Here?.
Insightful and inspirational Amy Shearn lays it out.
1. Stop Expecting People: To Be Your Partner in Crime
A group of friends and I had been out late one night when I saw it there, glowing like a beacon: the 24-hour frozen-yogurt stand. “You have to get something with me,” I urged a friend’s girlfriend, who I didn’t know well. At my insistence, she came with, and after I ordered a Snickers-covered chocolate something, she reluctantly ordered a small lemonade. It took me a good while to realize that she had a lot of reasons for not wanting to be my partner in crime: She was out of money, she had to be up early and was hoping to head home. I’d thought it would be a fun, dorm-room-y bonding moment, but in the end, I was forcing the connection, as if only her enjoyment would justify my own. Ditto for staying up all night, ditto for spending a lot of money on fancy soap or whatever it is. It’s okay if indulging in a particular guilty pleasure makes you happy. Do it. Be happy, down to the $7.50 in extra toppings.
2. Stop Expecting People: To Be on Time
They won’t be. Stop being mad about it. Just bring a book to read while you wait. Cool Mona note: If I did not do this, I would no longer have any friends.
3. Stop Expecting People: To Bash You on the Way to the Copier
Pop Quiz: You turn the corner in the office and hear your name mentioned in conversation.
(a) Assume they have called a special hallway meeting to discuss your many faults, foibles and fashion felonies.
(b) Try to head them off at the pass, bursting in with an, “I know, my presentation was horrible, wasn’t it?”
(c) Go right back to your desk and bury your head in paperwork, hoping maybe they’ll forget you exist.
(d) Think about what people usually talk about in public spaces at work, figure they are discussing some rather mundane logistical matter that concerns you, keep walking toward them and smile as you say hello.
If you answered (d), pick up your gold sticker on the way home! Regardless of what anyone was actually saying, you have a positive, balanced worldview and self-image. Trust that people think the best of you. (And, if they don’t, let that be their problem, not yours.)
4. Stop Expecting People: To Like Your Catstache Picture
As you already knew on some level or another, that photo you just took of yourself holding your cat’s face to your upper lip was about you and your adorable kitty. It doesn’t matter if it gets 175 “likes” or retumbled 87 times or retweeted 329 times or if only your mother-in-law, who “likes” everything, “likes” your post. Post what you want to post, ride the dopamine rush, and give your feline some catnip treats to show her how much you love (not like) her, no internet required.
Cool Mona note: A couple more tomorrow. Be your insane inspirational self and we’ll all be happier.
Question: Dear Mona, I wish you could meet Evelyn, my new weird sister-in-law. The wedding's over (thank God) and here we all are: my parents who don't know how else to please her, the brother who we dearly love, me and Evelyn. As you can tell we are not pleased with my brother's choice. She cries at the slightest thing, she's mousy and uneducated. Any suggestions for how to move forward and not push my brother away? Thanks in advance. I should have written sooner. Maya
There seems to be a movie title in there: Evelyn, My New Weird Sister-In-Law. Not pleased with your brother’s choice? This happens when it’s not our turn.
It sounds like you’ve never been a SIL and have not had the traumatizing experience of trying to merge with a new family, blend in with their likes and dislikes and deciding on how to respond to quietly said barbs. I thin there’s a life lesson in here and I think it’s yours.
Get to know Evelyn as an individual, not as a SIL. Think of all the parents who have children that they have nothing in common with but love them anyway. (Yes, I get that there’s a diff between children and SILS.) She has to have a couple of interests – an accomplished accordion player? - so learn something about them or even better ask her about them. Invite her to something like a movie where you won’t feel pressed to make up conversation. When the family is having pot-luck dinner, don’t just communicate the details to your brother, let her in on the planning and cooking, too.
And over a batch of margaritas some day, maybe you’ll find a few snippets to love about Evelyn. Stranger things have happened. Good luck and get inspired.
Women, Food and God – An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth, published 2010. (The title could just as easily be Men, Food and God.) Roth dedicates her book to those who despair that there is no way through. She speaks to those who have unhealthy relationships with food – we eat too much, we don’t eat enough, we constantly think about what we’ll eat, we try not to think about food at all – and teaches us that the way we eat is inseparable from our core beliefs about being alive.
Roth’s examples, meditations and teachings are quite beautiful and laser in. It may be a little too much for some, but I find it interesting. Like talking about the belly and belly fat. (It’s sounding odd already.) Like when you ignore your belly, you become homeless. You spend your own life trying to erase your own existence. Apologizing for yourself. Feeling like a ghost. Eating to take up space, eating to give yourself the feeling that you have weight here, you belong here, you are allowed here to be yourself.
You realize Roth gets it when reading her first basic concept. It’s not about food. It’s never about food. And it’s not even about feelings. It’s about what’s below them. What’s in between them. What’s beyond them. It’s about the parts of you that you take to be you. She walks you through one of her retreats: the comments, the meditations, food guidelines and the take – aways. Not everyone loves her.
Roth is a groundbreaking, inspirational guru who has hosted workshops and retreats for over 30 years. She’s a contributor to The Huffington Post and The Oprah Magazine and has appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, The View and Oprah.
Women, Food and God is a really powerful read and I give it 5 margaritas in the Cool Mona rating system.