In our line of work, we tend to ask a lot of questions, but none seem to carry a greater weight than this one, “What is the greatest need to the human experience?” Social researcher Dr. Brene Brown would ask the same question this way, “Is there one thing everyone is driven by?” Following thousands and thousands of interviews with people from all over the world, she discovered a powerful result: YES, there IS something that everyone is driven by. No matter race, age, gender, ethnicity, geographical location, etc. every person is neurobiologically wired for CONNECTION or in other words, RELATIONSHIP.
We agree with Dr. Brown and would go on to say that there are in fact TWO great needs to the human experience: to know and be known by God and to know and be known by Another. Inside all of us lies a basic desire to be wanted, plain and simple. We want love, and more than that, we want to be FULLY KNOWN AND FULLY LOVED for exactly who we are–no masks, no charades, no gimmicks–just ourselves, fully embraced for better or worse.
So, if we are all wired for connection, then why the relational disconnect and dysfunction these days? One word: SHAME. According to Brown, shame is defined as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.” (Shame vs. guilt, 2013).
Shame is sneaky. It mangles itself first in our thoughts, then it wiggles it’s way deep into our beliefs. The debris of rejection and life’s disappointments only reinforce shame’s voice leaving us with haunting wonderings: “If only I were smarter, thinner, prettier, funnier, etc., then I would be happy, find love, be accepted by _____, and on and on.” Or we think, “If only I had not done this or been there, then God would love me. How could He love me after I did ___________” We have trouble owning ourselves completely because we aren’t even sure that we even like or worse love ourselves completely. Therefore, how or why could anyone else like or love me? We learn to become the version of ourselves that we think we SHOULD be hiding our “imperfections” and ultimately isolating ourselves from the very thing we need CONNECTION.
So, what’s the solution? For people who have overcome shame, they shared 4 similarities:
They were VULNERABLE–willing to open their lives to another trusted source
They had a belief that they were WORTHY TO BE LOVED (even though they felt shame).
They were COURAGEOUS–willing to tell the story of who they were with their whole heart.
They were AUTHENTIC–able to let go of who they thought they should be to be who they really are.