Connection. Through your courage in sharing and your friend’s compassion, you have created a powerful connection to somebody outside of your shame. You may feel exposed, but also completely loved and accepted – which are the true antidotes to shameful thoughts. Remember, the definition of shame is “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” Once you forge a connection, you feel you belong. Brown eloquently explains, “It has been said that real freedom is about setting others free. In the spirit of that powerful definition, my greatest hope is that we will reach out across our differences and through our shame to share our stories and connect with those who need to hear, ‘You are not alone.’”
In our culture, there is an emphasis on strength – and part of that emphasis is the idea that we shouldn’t need any help. Instead, we should smile and keep on going because we are perfectly capable of handling anything that life throws our way.
In a culture of blame and enforced individualism, shame thrives. If you can’t talk about your shame, you give it the space to grow. Instead, if we can go against the culture of shame and be courageous, seek compassion, and connect, we will be able to live lives without the devastating and harmful effects of shame.
About the Author: An acclaimed educator and social skills specialist, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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