Brene Brown: Listening to shame…

18 Mar

I posted her talk on The Power of Vulnerability here which is worth listening to if you haven’t already – before listening to this talk.

From Ted video link:

Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.”


Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Adoption


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7 responses to “Brene Brown: Listening to shame…

  1. cb

    March 19, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Great videos.

    Adoption, especially in our mothers’ era, is all about “the shame” – the shame in having a baby out of wedlock for one group of women and the shame of not being able to have a baby in wedlock – swap ’em over, problem solved. Of course, when you try to “fix” someone’s shame by making them feel even more shameful and then offering them “redemption”, you are not fixing the problem, in fact, you are likely to cause fracturing of the soul. One has to help people face their shameful feelings so they can truly deal with their situation. If you can allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to face your shame, then the burden will be lifted and it can help immensely, which is something I know to be true for myself.

    As for the first video about vulnerability, I liked what she said about children, i.e. that children are hardwired for struggle when we get here and that we are all imperfect, wired for struggle but worthy of love and belonging. It did help me clarify why I always feel uncomfortable when I hear some first mothers say “I was enough but I wanted my child to have more than enough” because I think that if my first mother had said that, I would feel that I also needed to be “more than enough” and that I might not be allowed to express the “vulnerability, grief,shame,fear,disappointment” about things that other children are allowed to express about their own upbringing, thus not allowing me to be a *complete* person.


  2. dpen

    March 19, 2012 at 2:17 am

    I do get the absolute shame the mothers must have felt…for just giving birth. Buts whats really sad is how that shame is transferred to the person that was birthed. No matter how loving and wonderful thats person aparents were society continues to make it shameful to be be adopted.


  3. cb

    March 19, 2012 at 3:03 am

    I totally agree, dpen. That’s why I dislike “using and enhancing” both lots of mothers shameful feelings so that we end up being used to ‘fix” others shame and thus end up being made to feel shameful of our origins – eg one mother can’t be public about her child, the other mother doesn’t want to be public about the origins of her child, so the child feels ashamed that the truth of her existence is something others would rather not talk about.

    My mother seems to have never told anyone in her family about me – whether she would have done so if she had lived long enough is another question. Even though my head really does understand why she couldn’t tell anyone and in fact I would have been surprised if she had, I do feel shame that she was so ashamed about getting pregnant out of wedlock that it meant her shame and thus the result of that shame (me) could never be spoken about or admitted to “in polite company” again. That isn’t criticising her, it is criticising society and those who used her shame to make her “see” that adoption was the answer to her shame. Even with my APs, though they have always been pretty good on the whole about our adoptions (I have 3 asiblings), they didn’t really like us mentioning “in polite company” that we are adopted as they would no doubt rather people didn’t know that they weren’t able to have children the “usual way”.


  4. cb

    March 19, 2012 at 3:59 am

    I just wanted to add that *if* my first mother’s working holiday had been swapped with my working holiday, it is possible that her decision may have been very different. If I had gotten pregnant on my working holiday in the UK in the early 80s, I probably would have tried to see if I could get a council flat and a pension (and hopefully later a job) to support myself and child until I felt self-sufficient enough to be able to go back home without having to worry about parental disapproval. I know that I couldn’t have asked my mum for help and in fact I don’t even know if I would have been able to tell her I had a child until I was ready to come home. My first mother wouldn’t have been able to get a council flat in 60s NZ, in fact, she would have found it hard to get a flat with a baby, she wouldn’t have been able to get a pension and even getting a job would have been subject to her not taking time off and as for childcare in NZ in the mid 60s? Forget it – it would have consisted mainly of older women taking in children and there would have been a queue of people waiting (so if you are sick, too bad). I think we actually tend to forget how important having some sort of child care/help is – if you have nowhere to leave your child when you have to work, what are you supposed to do with it. I actually believe the above is why my asiblings mother ended up “neglecting” her children and having them taken off her – not because she truly was neglecting them but because the odds were stacked against her. This doesn’t of course mean that adoption is the answer it means that resources need to be made available to the mother. If you can shame a mother into making an adoption plan, then you don’t need to worry too much about resources thus I think adoption ends up getting used as a safety net – “can’t afford to look after your own baby? don’t worry someone else can” – NZ is proof that when the safety net is no longer there, resources needed to be found.


  5. shadowtheadoptee

    March 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks for posting this.


  6. Pingback: Toxic Shame
  7. Deanna

    January 6, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Great video and inspiring talk about shame, a topic that most people have real difficulty facing. Judy Liautaud, author of the memoir titled Sunlight on My Shadow, lived with the shame of being an unwed mother for years, keeping it a secret from her family and friends. Her book details the struggles and sacrifices she made as a young, unwed mother and the journey through her adult life as she searched for peace and renewal.

    Here is a link to the book trailer:



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