Daring Greatly explores how embracing one’s vulnerability and imperfection is necessary for achieving real engagement and social connection. Through explaining our deep-seated reasons for shame, and showing how to embrace our vulnerability, the author aims to provide guidance for a better private and professional life, and to initiate a fundamental transformation in our shame-based society which, according to the author, needs to adapt a new culture of vulnerability.
We’ve all experienced shame. And most of us know that shame is triggered by our perception of what others think of us.
But to truly understand how shame works, we need to look at a basic human need for connection, love and belonging.
As “social animals,” we’re wired to seek the company of others;belonging to a group has always been crucial to our survival. In the Stone Age, for example, group members would attack any intruders to protect each other.
This need is so strong that socially disconnection causes real pain – one that neuroscience has shown is reinforced by our brain chemistry.
So what's behind our feelings of shame? The belief that we're not worthy of the love, connection and belonging that we need to survive.
And if we feel this way, whatever we do or accomplish in our lives will not be enough to satisfy that basic need.
The relationship between shame and worthiness can be observed, for example, in those instances when we show others something we've created – such as an essay we've written, or a painting we've made.
Often, we attach our self-worth to the way others respond to our creations. The result? We fear they will be criticized, or even rejected.
Clearly, shame is harmful to us. It stops us from trying, causing us to disconnect from others.
Shame makes us shy away from putting ourselves out there, whether it's presenting our work, expressing our feelings or trying something new. If, however, we have a sense of our unconditional worthiness, we'll be courageous when it comes to taking a chance.
In her research, the author discovered that shame weakens our ability to believe we can improve ourselves. Other researchers also have found that shame leads only to negative, destructive behavior; in blunt terms, shame has zero positive effects.
So, although it's only human to feel shame once in a while, the adoption of shame-related behavior in our society is worrying.