Monday Mitzvahs: No More Shaming

Today, I have a couple special “guests”.  You know Oprah, but do you know Brene Brown?  If you do you are lucky, as I am to have learned from her.  If you haven’t met her yet, allow me the pleasure of introducing you.  Dr. Brene Brown is a shame researcher and author of several exceptional books.  Please take a couple minutes (less than four to be precise) and then we’ll talk about it.

Note: Brene uses teachers in this illustration about shame, but she did NOT intend it to be a slam on teachers, whom she has great respect for.  In a blog post yesterday, she apologized for the misunderstanding.

This video is so important, not only for the obvious message, but because there is a valuable message here for parents about child abuse.  If you have ever wondered why abused children don’t tell, Brene just gave you the answer: shame.  If the child feels shame–and abuse is very shaming–then they won’t tell.  It really is that simple and that powerful.  Shame is crippling.  Shame is suffocating.  And it is so unnecessary.

I think Brene also offers a very powerful solution here as well.  No name calling–not even to yourself.  I don’t use negative names with my children and I don’t think any of my friends do either, but I suspect we are all guilty of shaming ourselves.  I believe (and deeply hope) that if we give our children a home without shame, they will be more shame-resilient as they move into the world–more likely to experience humiliation (rather than shame) and therefore healthy anger–which will be a great protection for them.

So today’s mitvzah is to stop the shaming.  Be gentle with yourself.  Who knows but you how hard you try?  And how much you care your family and friends?  So give yourself the gift of kindness.

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