Can Shame Resiliency Skills Enable Hard Conversations?


I just camp back from “Courage Camp”, four days with about 200 other Certified Daring Way™ Facilitators of Brené Brown’s research on shame, vulnerability, courage and connection.  I was eager for opportunities to talk with other facilitators about how this work on shame resiliency skills might be used to help groups have brave conversations about race and privilege in this country.   If we know what to do when we encounter our own feelings of shame, can we lower our defenses and engage differently in hard conversations? I was asked a related question that has stuck with me since last month when I gave a talk for about 80 clinical social workers - a question about how this research might help us address the inequities some people face as they walk into any arena, merely based on their demographics.  The question gave me pause, the curriculum acknowledges the social exclusion of many based on race, class, gender, sexuality, but doesn’t quite provide tools to address it.  I was looking for answers. Not surprisingly, I got to hear many stories, but not many answers.


Like many of my clients, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the social and political problems in our country, where questions of whose voice, and even whose lives matter gets played out again and again.  Even when we don’t know where to start, I believe it is essential to keep showing up and asking hard questions and telling our stories of struggle.  As Maya Angelou said: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”.  I am committed to keep making space for stories of heartbreak and resilience, and honoring the journeys of my clients.  


As the conference ended, we were encouraged to practice self-compassion with what Kristen Neff calls “a compassionate whisper” to the self with a hand over our hearts.  What will your compassionate whisper be today?