I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough"
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Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers a liberating study on the importance of our imperfections—both to our relationships and to our own sense of self
The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting. There is a constant barrage of social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. Everywhere we turn, there are messages that tell us who, what and how we’re supposed to be. So, we learn to hide our struggles and protect ourselves from shame, judgment, criticism and blame by seeking safety in pretending and perfection.
Dr. Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, is the leading authority on the power of vulnerability, and has inspired thousands through her top-selling book The Gifts of Imperfection, wildly popular TEDx talk, and a PBS special. Based on seven years of her ground-breaking research and hundreds of interviews, I Thought It Was Just Me shines a long-overdue light on an important truth: Our imperfections are what connect us to each other and to our humanity. Our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses; they are powerful reminders to keep our hearts and minds open to the reality that we’re all in this together.
Dr. Brown writes, “We need our lives back. It’s time to reclaim the gifts of imperfection—the courage to be real, the compassion we need to love ourselves and others, and the connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life. These are the gifts that bring love, laughter, gratitude, empathy and joy into our lives.”
a pretty good idea of whether they are prone to crying or not. Using measures such as the TOSCA [a research instrument], we present individuals with a variety of everyday situations and ask them to indicate their likelihood of responding in a variety of ways (some representing shame responses, others representing guilt responses). Using their responses, we can determine each person’s tendency toward shame-proneness and guilt-proneness. Although it is possible to be both shame-prone and
your “drunk mother” and raise you a “drug-addict sister.” • I’ll see your “unmarried and thirty” and raise you a “single mom.” When we compete to see whose situation is worse, whose oppression is the most real or whose “-ism” is the most serious, we lose sight of the fact that most of our struggles stem from the same place—powerlessness and disconnection. If we spend our resources attempting to outdo one another, competing for “last place,” or stepping on each other to climb out of shame,
privilege actually perpetuates racism, sexism, hetero-sexism, classism, ageism, etc. I don’t have to know “exactly how you feel”—I just have to touch a part of my life that opens me up to hearing your experience. If I can touch that place, I stay out of judgment and I can reach out with empathy. This is where both personal and social healing can begin. Imagine what it would be like if we could only reach out to folks who have had our exact experiences. We would all be very much alone. Life
grandmother didn’t have the emotional resources she needed to survive a traumatic loss like this. For weeks she roamed her neighborhood, randomly asking the same people over and over if they had heard about his death. One day, right after my uncle’s memorial service, my mom totally broke down. I had seen her cry once or twice, but I certainly had never seen her cry uncontrollably. My sisters and I were afraid and crying mostly because we were so scared to see her like that. I finally told her
eighty-one percent of ten-year-old girls had already dieted at least once. • A research survey found that the single largest group of high-school students considering or attempting suicide are girls who feel they are overweight. • Twenty-five years ago, top models and beauty queens weighed only eight percent less than the average woman; now they weigh twenty-three percent less. The current media ideal for women is achievable by less than five percent of the female population—and that’s just in