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Updated: Mar 28, 2022

As men, we are expected to possess strength, power, and confidence, traits that might appear to be the opposite of vulnerability. But in fact, we need these characteristics to be vulnerable, and in being vulnerable we reinforce them. To express our vulnerability, we need to know that we will be okay no matter how others respond. We need to trust in ourselves.

Brené Brown is a well-known professor who has conducted much research on shame, in recent years even bringing shame as it pertains to men and women into the spotlight. She has said, “We desperately don’t want to experience shame, and we’re not willing to talk about it. Yet the only way to resolve shame is to talk about it. Maybe we’re afraid of topics like love and shame…Shame and love are grounded in vulnerability and tenderness.”(1)

Further compounding the problem with shame is that it usually does not lead us towards becoming more accountable. It depletes our energy, causing us to collapse in on ourselves and hide even further from our behavior. Research has shown that when we don’t deal with our shame, it can lead us to rage and violence, which of course only bring about more shame in turn.(2) (3) The only way to resolve shame is to talk about it, owning it, so we may release it from the hidden places in our psyche.

Continue reading: 4: OWNING OUR SHAME

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1. Men, Women and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough by Brene Brown (2012). Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

2. Shame, Rage and Racist Violence by Ray, L., Smith, D., & Wastell, L. (2004). The British Journal of Criminology, 44(3): 350-368.

3. The Role of Shame in Developmental Trajectories Towards Severe Targeted School Violence: An In-Depth Multiple Case Study by Sommer, F., Leuschner, V. & et al (2020). Aggression and Violent Behavior, 51, 101386.



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