the shame storm and conversion


“The opposite of recognizing that we’re feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.”
― Brené Brown, Rising Strong

Yesterday I experienced what Brene Brown would call a “shame storm.”  It was classic shame storm which is why I can so clearly define it – so clearly see that that is what it was.  I hear been reading her books for years.  When I lived at Blackwater Bluff, my farm in the woods of New Hampshire, I listened to The Gifts of Imperfection more than 20 times because I hiked every day.   Ok.  A bit obsessive.  But I needed it in those days.  I was learning about myself.

I was busy at my work and someone said something to me which threw me into a shame storm.  I am very glad they did.  I needed to hear the loving, but very clear criticism so that my work improved.  It was great and needed feedback.  But on came the “shame storm.”  Dry mouth, time slows down, head spins a bit, breathing shallows, heat in my face, and a spontaneous forehead sweat.

But it was ok.  The feedback was needed.  The feedback was painful to hear,  but it was needed.  I was being corrected by life in the form of a human whose feedback to me I needed in my conversion – for we are all, always in conversion. In the story of my day, I experienced pain and even a bit of shame.  But I showed up.  I felt my pain and I faced the storm and I passed through it to the other side – grateful to the hands on the spinning clay of my life -forming me a bit – grateful to a person who loved me enough to tell me the truth; so firmly and so lovingly.

“Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.”

There will be storms in our life.  Even shame storms.  But on the other side of a storm, so often, the wet grass smells of God.

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