http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/272463

Does Courage or Shame Guide Our Behaviors?

Posted May 11, 2009 by Carol Forsloff
Shame preoccupies much of what we do, according to Brene Brown. We do things often not because something is the right thing to do but because we are compelled to by shame. Shame precipitates other behaviors as well.
Pillar of Shame
This represents the impact of shame on human behavior vividly, with the red showing the serious side of it.
Minghong
Brown has a book in which she discusses authenticity. The book is called “I Thought It Was Just Me.” Authenticity, she describes, is “cultivating courage, exercising compassion and nurturing connection.” This means being real enough to say and do what the right thing, not just those things motivated by shame
Brown believes it is important to share our human journey because many of us are tired with pleasing and others and want to be accepted for who we are. She has a readalong book – experience at an interactive site where participants can use a number of different tools in order to participate, including both Facebook and Twitter.
Brown is a Professor at the UH Graduate College of Social work who has studied the notions of shame and authenticity and our need to belong. She has been discussing the effects of these attributes on human behavior and how responding to information or orders based upon shame might be inhibiting. The dialogue, she believes is important so the interactive site will allow others to share their experiences. Brown believes that social media can enhance the opportunity for people to interact. It is already getting a lot of notice with 100,000 page views the first week..
Brown has researched how shame impacts all of what we do including how we see ourselves, relate with others and make decisions in every aspect of our lives. She says this about shame and its impact on the human experience “When we are feeling shame, the camera is zoomed in tight, and all we see is our flawed selves, alone and struggling. We think to ourselves, ‘I’m the only one. Something is wrong with me. I am alone.’ The less we understand shame and how it affects our feelings, thoughts and behaviors, the more power it exerts over our lives,” she said.
Another expert sees shame as the “quintessential emotion.” Dr. Holly VanScoy declares. She too believes that it impacts everything we do. It creates dysfunction in families. She observes that it is becoming increasingly accepted by psychologists and sociologists as very powerful and dangerous for those who don’t understand the origin of shame and how to manage it. Using the idea of shame, we see ourselves as inadequate when we need to see ourselves as whole and adequate in order to develop a self-concept that will allow us to achieve. So listening to messages of shame that we interpret as ordering our lives can be crippling.
We have a direction in our lives, scientists say, that can be guided by shame or free choice determined within the realm of what some people call “being real.” They say choose the latter for a healthy life. One wonders how this would impact not just the developed countries of the United States, Canada, France, Great Britain, Australia and other places where intention is discussed but cultures where shame is a major part of the culture as we hear about parts of Asia and Africa including Japan, China, Korea, Egypt, India and Pakistan. It would be interesting to know the differences in how shame impacts behavior in these countries both before and after learning more about what it is and how it motivates us.