Shame and vulnerability

This is a very interesting talk following up Bren√© Brown‘s presentation last year on vulnerability. We are vulnerable about things that risk exposing us in ways that we find shameful (often because of messages we’ve received about how it is, and is not, okay to be). Shame and vulnerability are highly relevant to relationships because the attempt to hide vulnerability often prevents us from letting someone in. They are also at the root of conflict because we are scared to admit that we might be wrong, or to acknowledge aspects of ourselves that we are uncomfortable with.

In Rewriting the Rules I explore the ways in which we look to partners to validate the sides of ourselves we are happy with, and the struggles that we face when they see sides of ourselves that we are ashamed of.

Like John Welwood, who has written about this extensively, I think one important answer lies in openness (to ourselves and partners) about our vulnerability and shame. If we can see what vulnerability a particular argument has tapped into, or admit that we’re trying desperately to stop them from seeing us in a way that shames us, then we can respond less defensively and find it easier to listen to them in return.

Meg-John (MJ) Barker (they/them) is a writer, zine-maker, collaborator, contemplative practitioner, and friend. They are the author of a number of zines and popular books on sex, gender, and relationships, including graphic guides to Queer, Gender, and Sexuality (with Jules Scheele), and How To Understand Your Gender, Sexuality and Relationships (with Alex Iantaffi).



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