Practicing Critical Awareness: An Element of Shame Resilience

How am I supposed to have confidence in being myself when all I see and hear are advertisements enticing me to buy products to “fix” what’s wrong with me?
We’re told to be ourselves but what if we’re still finding ourselves? We’re told we need to be a million and one things but what if 900,000 of them aren’t who we are?
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of self-doubt, especially with all the bullshit that surrounds us. So how do we get the courage to be ourselves?
In Brené Brown’s book, I Thought it Was Just Me (But it Isn’t), she talks about the second element to shame resilience, critical awareness, and how to practice it. She lays out how we can practice critical awareness:

  • Contextualize (I see the bigger picture);
  • Normalize (I’m not the only one); and
  • Demystify (I’ll share what I know with others).

Not only did I find this brilliant (I love finding the vocabulary that helps me better explain things), but it’s a truth that I can see has played over and over again in my life. It doesn’t always appear in that order, more often #2, normalizing, hits me first.
As with anyone, realizing we’re not the only one struggling helps us breathe a fresher breath of air. For me, the biggest moment of “I’m not the only one” came when I watched Susan Cain’s TED talk on introversion. From there I was able to see the bigger picture (through reading her book and subscribing to the Quiet Revolution email) about introversion and why I had been made to feel bad about my quietness.
For me, normalizing is the biggest thing we can do for each other, but unless we have the courage to share our stories then we’re always going to feel alone in our struggles. (Maybe that is why I love Mel Robbins and Brené so much – they normalize the feelings that I have by reminding me that it’s normal to have doubt, fears, and insecurities.)
Knowing that I’m not the only one helps me to write about my struggles. Knowing that one person’s story helped me be more courageous is one reason I write. Knowing that I’m being sold products to help a company/companies profit from my insecurities helps me remember who I am and my power.
Practicing critical awareness in all areas we feel shame will help us rise above them. And it’s important that we are diligent about practicing our whole lives. It’s something I’ve (unknowingly) been putting into practice and I am more confident in myself than I’ve ever been. But as I’m always seeking to grow, and now that I know there’s a process, I plan on being more diligent in my practice.
Where have you felt/thought you were the only one but discovered you weren’t the only one? How did that discovery impact your life?

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Writer/blogger from Lake Charles, Louisiana. Currently residing in Orlando, FL.

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