Stability. Vulnerability. Shame.
One we need. One we must open ourselves up to. And one we all have, and ought to let go of.
In motherhood, in childhood, in the task and blessing of being a human being, we all learn what shame is. None of us want to admit that we’ve felt it, which is, in essence, shame itself. We’ve all felt it and, I believe, we all wish we didn’t have it. We’d rather ignore it really. It’s too uncomfortable to talk about, whether it’s regarding ourselves or others. We feel shame for how we disciplined our children in a specific situation or for our lack of discipline in another. We feel shame for things we can’t even help, such as miscarriage or infertility. We feel shame for that cup of coffee we had while we were pregnant or that extra bit of cake while we were breastfeeding. Instead of opening up about these things, shame convinces us to stay quiet. To hold it all in while our self worth dwindles. When instead, we could be sharing and connecting and engaging more deeply with others, by opening up to them about our deepest feelings. And the less vulnerable we are, the less vulnerability that our children see, the more they learn to choose shame over sharing. It is a dangerous cycle.
Then how to break out of the cycle?
I believe that shame is a product both of our culture and of our lack of these two essential things: vulnerability and stability. We live in a world that tells us not to be vulnerable. Don’t air your dirty laundry in front of others and don’t open your heart up as a ‘hopeless’ romantic. Play hard to get. Keep your chin up. Brush it off. Don’t let them see you when you’re down. We’ve all heard these phrases and it’s likely that many of us use them ourselves. But what do these things teach our children? To sweep their emotions under the rug? That what they’re feeling is somehow….wrong? That it’s weak or childish to feel? These things are simply not true. Yet they penetrate our minds and our children’s every day when we discourage vulnerability in ourselves as mothers, or in them as children who feel everything hugely, and thus we create shame.
Instead, we must learn to be vulnerable ourselves, and we must teach our children that it’s okay to be vulnerable. Instead of shame, choose sharing and openness.
But where do we even begin with making our homes a place where vulnerability is less uncomfortable? How can we make our homes a place where children feel safe to talk of and express their emotions freely and openly?
With stability. A stable environment create’s more confident, resilient children. And these confident, resilient children are more open to making themselves vulnerable. They’re more willing to try new things, to speak their minds, and to express their heartfelt emotions. When children become comfortable with vulnerability, they learn that mistakes, or embarrassing moments, and especially things that they can’t control, do not define them. They are more resilient to these things because they realize that who they are is not affected by them.
And you know what? The more we open ourselves up to others, the more realize that they feel the same way, and were just too afraid to say it first. And that means connection. It means closer relationships and stronger bonds. It means less shame and more stability in our friendships.
This togetherness that comes from vulnerability and stability is essential for hygge in all of our interactions with others, but especially in our relationships with our children. Open up to them, and let them see you being honest and vulnerable with others, and you’ll be amazed at the things they’ll share with you.