I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough"
In her talk at TED2012, Dr. Brown describes her reaction to her first TED Talk (at TEDxHouston) and the video going viral with over 4 million views. At one point in her story, a friend teasingly accuses her of being "the worst vulnerability role model ever". But in truth, the fact that Dr. Brown is willing to share her own stories makes her one of the better role models.I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't) is full of stories not only from Dr. Brown's research subjects, but also from her own life, like when her need to be perceived as an organized and responsible mother drove her to "steal" cookies for her daughter's class party.We all have moments when we feel that rush of inadequacy when we are not what we are supposed to be. I'm desperate to be perceived as smart, well-read and interested in many topics and perspectives. A customer's incredulous cry of "You haven't read [book of the moment]?" can send a flush up my neck and set me stammering. Or at least, it could before I found Dr. Brown's theories. My old reaction is by no means gone, but I'm much more likely to reach out for empathy with a shrug and a smile, saying "There are just so many, aren't there?" Ironically, my new method is much more likely to gain the customer's trust and respect regarding my recommendations.We can't eliminate shame from our lives, but according to Dr. Brown, we can develop shame-resilience though four techniques: recognizing our personal shame triggers, practicing critical awareness, reaching out to our connection networks, and talking openly about shame and how to combat it.One of the most useful parts of Dr. Brown's work, which she repeats in this books, is the delineation between shame and guilt. Shame is "I am bad"; guilt is "I did something bad". Having it spelled out so succinctly is a great help in practicing self-empathy, a first step in changing those behaviours we don't like (as opposed to the more dangerous and futile task of trying to change ourselves).I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't) focusses on women, with only a short chapter at the end exploring the beginnings of her research on men. Her newer book Daring Greatly is much more balanced between the genders and the one I would most recommend to men starting their own shame-resilience journey. That said, this book's depth of exploration into the hidden lives of women make it a rewarding read for anyone seeking to better understand the women in their lives.This review also appears at Boxes of Paper.