Open Up

I’m a Brene Brown fan. Of epic proportions.

Ever since I read her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she is my guru- like Drona was to Eklavya. I know she will never ask me for my thumb, but if she does, I’ll give it without a second’s hesitation. There’s no point doing things half way, is there?

(Aside: If you haven’t read the book, you must. M.U.S.T. There’s no negotiation on that. And if you aren’t the reading kinds… well!)

A very powerful section in the book deals with sharing. Whom, she asks, are you sharing your vulnerable moments with? Whom do you go to and confess to something you did that shames you? To whom are you opening up? Into whose ears are you pouring your anguish? When you are in the midst of a shame storm, whom do you trust to be your anchor?

She offers a few guidelines to help you select (or become) the right person to share with. She discusses these guidelines with Oprah on a Super Soul Sunday episode. You can watch the video here.

If we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.

~ Brené Brown

When choosing the person you will share with ( or to become the person others can share safely with), make sure that:

  1. They have earned the right to hear your story. Someone who hasn’t been impacted (and mauled) by life’s idiosyncrasies would be hard put to empathize with you. They just don’t know how it feels. Here, I must also add that there are people who have gone through terrible times- and have suffered much. But when it comes to the suffering of others, they are not able to relate- despite their own suffering. I have met people like that. To pour your tale of shame before such people will only hurt you.
  2. You have a strong enough relationship with them to be able to bear the weight of their sharing. It isn’t easy to make room for another person in space already cluttered. You may want to rest in that space after pouring out your story… for days or a few hours. The story you share will fill up all the space within them. Their own shame storms might come trotting out and join in to create a rowdy shame fest. This might turn things difficult for both of you. You will only be able to deal with it if you have a strong bond with each other.
  3. They are willing to wade into the deep end with you and not give you responses that isolate you while they stand aside on safe, dry land, shouting instructions on what you should do to help yourself. This could take the form of statements like:
    • Oh My God that’s such a terrible storm! You are going to DIE!
    • Oh you poor thing, you’re stuck in a storm!
    • How COULD you let yourself caught in a storm? Now I have to get you out!
    • Don’t over-react! The storm is not as bad as you are making it out to be!
    • This storm is nothing. Let me tell you of the one I got caught in last month!
    • God helps those who help themselves. Buck up!

        And so on….

(Aside: Have you ever given someone such responses yourself? Be honest now!)

From my own experience, I would add that the person you honor by sharing your shame storm with, must be non- judgmental. They must have the capacity to accept you completely with all your imperfections and confusing contradictions. They must give you the space in which you can stand naked without wondering what they might be thinking. They must be someone to whom you can confess your darkest, most secret thoughts.

We come into human form so open, so trusting, so vulnerable. And then we shut down to stay alive. And then we confuse our adaptations with our authenticity, our armor sticking to us like crazy glue. As complex as the process of de-armoring is, in a way it’s quite simple. We are just trying to open again. We are just trying to surrender to who we really are. This is the work of all truth-speakers and wing-lifters- to remind us of our misplaced magnificence, to raise our authenticity to the rafters of consciousness, to get real again. May we continue to support this intention in each other until we are all swimming in a sea of delight. Joy to the inner world!

~Jeff Brown

As Brene says, if you have ONE such person in your life, you have enough. If you have two or three, you have a lottery.

Some people have a gift for empathy. Maybe they were born with it; maybe they learned it in the school of hard knocks. Whichever it is, such people are the glue that put us together again when we come apart. To some, these people have drawn the thin line between sanity and insanity; even life and death.

There is nothing in the world that gives you hope, courage and a feeling of unconditional love, as the wholehearted acceptance of another person. Nothing is as empowering as to have someone bear witness to your vulnerability without flinching with pity, outrage or fear.

To BE such a person is not easy. To HAVE such a person is pure bliss.

To whom do you Open Up?

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Open Up

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26 thoughts on “Open Up”

  1. Your reply above to Vishal is the perfect summary of your excellent post! “The best way to find one is to BE one.” So true. That’s the real lesson I am taking from here. Thank you 🙂

  2. Oh. I’m lucky to have a few in that category to share my blues phases with 🙂 Will procure a copy of the book, even though I rarely read non-fiction. Not my cup of tea.

    1. This isn’t a non-fiction book Vinay. This is something that can help you to understand, accept and love yourself. If you’ve never struggled with those issues, perhaps you don’t need the book at all. 🙂

  3. I have browsed through her book, and heard her speak in TED’s. All I can say is that to be a non judgmental person is tough, since we are humans after all, but to treat everyone as if wanna be treated will help complete a circle…

    1. Ruchira, I agree that being human it is natural to ‘evaluate’ and compare. It is one of the ways we understand and categorize our world. But to ridicule, ostracize and criticize another person’s personal choice simply because their priorities are different from yours, is hardly ‘humanity’. To me that’s being ‘judgmental’.
      Thank you for coming by… 🙂

  4. Will borrow the book from Janaki. 🙂

    But me, I like to battle it on my own, largely. I have been like that since 9. I feel if I have somehow created it, the solution lies within me, too. But aside from that, I am blessed with 2 such friends who I can talk to about anything. Yes, I am lucky.

    More often than not, I do like to help the one in the storm, actually. Do I need to read another book?

    1. Vini,

      As far as books are concerned, I think we only need the books we are drawn to. If you aren’t drawn to this one, perhaps you don’t need it. Forget about it. 🙂

      And yes. I know you like to be there for people. You’ve been there for me a couple of times- when I least expected it.

      Good to see you here. 🙂

      Sent from My Blackberry® @ Tata Docomo

  5. Indeed, one is blessed to even have a single such person in one’s lives. I will just say I never forget to count my blessings in this department. I must catch hold of this book once my schedule eases a bit. I am sure I will love it! Again I am reminded of an atom. There is a nucleus and there are electrons. Each has their utility in your life. But it is the nucleus that defines your core. You are indeed naked in front of them! As always a fantastic post, Dagny!

    1. What a lovely analogy Rachna! The nucleus does define the core of you!

      What a fabulous comment, as always! Thank you!

    1. Then become that person one for someone else Roshni. You will soon find yours. I found one after I was 36.

      Thank you for coming by…

  6. I placed the book on hold at the library! 🙂

    I’m fortunate to have a few people in my life with whom I share everything. And I think I’m blessed because I have a few friends who confide in me as well. 🙂

    1. Hema, can you get luckier? 🙂

      But you truly are such a warm- hearted soul. It is natural people want to connect with you…. why wouldn’t they? <3

    1. Your comment made me think Purba. And I realized that the two- three people I have ever confided in were all men! 😀

  7. These words convey such an important advice. Thank you! To be such an open-hearted and non-judgemental receiver for another person’s story can in itself be a great means to grow in oneself. The inter-relational and inter-subjective knowing for both individuals could be a great step forward for them. And for others in their lives. Imagine the ripple effect.

    1. Of all the people I have ever met in my life, you certainly don’t need this advice. You are the most perfect person to open up to. Your poise is impeccable; your empathy is exemplary. Not a single missed cue, not a moment of misstep. God is indeed kind to me for bringing you into my life. Your love blesses me. Thank you!

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