There is a tendency in human nature to want to hide our brokenness and struggles. We want others to believe the image we present on social media: that our lives are full of fun outings, pumpkin spiced lattes, exotic vacations and happy, smiley family gatherings…
It feels good to be “liked”.
But there are pieces of ourselves that we don’t share as easily. Most of us don’t post about the times we cry ourselves to sleep; the times our anxiety robs us of the ability to leave our homes; the moments we rage at our spouse; the seasons when our grief feels as though it will swallow us alive; the times we give in to our secret addictions, and the times we wonder if we can find the strength to get out of bed to face another pain-filled day…. Social media doesn’t tell even half of our true story.
Shame tells us to hide our stories of brokenness because others won’t understand.
“Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it- it can't survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes.”
Researchers have discovered what they call the “pratfall effect”. They found that when someone who appears perfect does something clumsy or makes a mistake, we like them more then if they had remained “perfect”. There is something about seeing the humanity of others that causes us to identify with them in a way we otherwise cannot. Something inside of us says, “Yes! I can relate to this person!” We realize we are not alone in our brokenness.
As a counsellor I am inspired by the courage of people who are willing to bravely share their stories with me. As someone who has reached out for counselling myself in the past, I understand first hand the feeling of shame that tries to prevent us from sharing our private pain with someone else..
It takes incredible courage to silence the voice of shame. Yet, when we find the strength to become vulnerable and share our story with someone we trust, shame cannot survive it and healing can begin. It is a freedom we can’t experience any other way. It might be painful and embarrassing, and it may even feel worse at first, but it marks the beginning of a journey toward healing.
If you have a hidden part of yourself that you know needs healing, may I encourage you to push past shame and talk to someone you trust. Find people who you can be vulnerable and open with.
If counselling is your next step, please know that I will hold your story as a sacred trust. Your confidentiality is extremely important to me, and together we can move toward the healing you deserve.
In the video below, Brene Brown says "the definition of courage is to tell your story with your whole heart." It is well worth the 3 minutes to watch.