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Shame cannot survive in the light

Last night, on a long drive home from a wonderful day out in London (marching alongside fellow women to call for an end to violence against women), I listened to the podcast Happy Place, which is hosted by the wonderful Fearne Cotton. The episode that I was listening featured psychotherapist Owen O'Kane, who coincidentally The Beths had seen speak the week before at the SBS Winners conference that we attended as Small Business Sunday winners for The Listening House. The subject matter was shame, and how it can debilitate us and stop us moving forwards. Owen pronounced the above statement, that shame cannot survive in the light, which then got me thinking about the wonderful Brené Brown and all of her work on shame and vulnerability. She famously stated, back in 2013, that shame needs 3 things to survive: secrecy, silence and judgment.

Owen told a story about a time when he was giving a presentation on stage, and only had 18 mins to deliver it. He was determined that it was going to go perfectly and had an important message to deliver. Four minutes into his presentation, his mouth became so dry that he was finding it difficult to speak. He felt ashamed that he wasn't able to be the professional, slick, prefect present that he'd imagined he was going to be. His 2 options here were to either try and struggle on in the hope that nobody noticed, or to fess up and ask for a glass of water. He opted for the latter, and then went on to describe to his audience the experience that he had just gone through. All of that took up a lot of his 18 minutes, and so he wasn't able to deliver the message he had originally intended to. And the message that he did deliver, through personal experience, was incredibly powerful. It really made me think about what shame I had and how it might be holding me back.

Shame is such a powerful, and human, emotion, and we all have it, to a greater or less extent. How wonderful would it be if we could get all our shame out into the light and banish it for good?

Thank you for listening.

*if you enjoy the themes of these musings and would like to learn more, or join in similar conversations, please head over to The Listening House.

I'd also highly recommend checking out Happy Place podcast which has been going since 2018, as well as Brené Brown's famous TED Talk on Vulnerability and Shame.

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