On Vulnerability, Perfectionism and Shame

On Vulnerability, Perfectionism and Shame

I’m a fan of author & researcher Brene’ Brown, and want to share with you some amazing nuggets from her book Daring Greatly.

“We must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen.”

Does that statement make you cringe despite the fact a part of you knows this to be Deeply, Deeply True?  It triggers the feeling of vulnerability.  Because if I let myself be seen, you may reject me or judge me as not good enough and I may embarrass myself (shame).

According to Brown, perfectionism ISN’T:

  • the same as striving for excellence

We believe if we do things perfectly and look perfect that we can minimize the pain of blame, judgment and shame.

  • about self-improvement
    Trying to earn approval – praise for achievement, performance, grades, appearance or following the rules.
  • the key to success

Fear of failure, criticism, or making mistakes prevents us from being successful and is correlated with anxiety/depression, addiction and an “unlived life.”

  • a way to avoid shame

Perfectionism is a form of shame.

Perfectionism IS:

  • a self-destructive and addictive belief system that makes us think we can avoid shame, judgment or blame
  • an unattainable goal, more about perception than accomplishment
  • sets us up to feel shame and self-blame because “I’m not good enough”

Brown shares strategies for building “shame resilience” as well as research on differences in how men and women experience shame. Her book also includes ways to improve leadership in the workplace and in parenting. (see the Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto at http://brenebrown.com/downloads-badges/)

In over 20 years of providing therapy AND in my own journey as a “recovering perfectionist” / self-improvement junkie, I have NEVER found a concept as useful as Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability.  (Her TED talks on listening to shame and the power of vulnerability have had 29 MILLION views.)