After Brene Brown’s viral TED Talk and the launch of her book The Power of Vulnerability, everyday people began talking about the concept of shame. Brown defines shame as fear of loss of connection. More specifically, we believe there are parts of ourselves that others would reject. We fear we’d lose respect, friendship, or prestige if we showed our true selves. Because we don’t want to lose connection with the community, we hide, repress, and deny who we really are.
However, Brown explains that residing in this shame actually sabotages real connection. When we don’t show the world our true selves, we rob others of the chance to really know us. In other words, we create inauthentic relationships.
In her studies, Brown found that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging have just one thing in common: they believe they are worthy of it. But how can we believe that we’re worthy of connection if we don’t like parts of who we are? Brown says the answer lies in the power of vulnerability. No matter how uncomfortable it may be, we must find a way to show all the sides of who we really are. Over time, we begin to believe that we deserve connection despite our flaws.
Embracing the power of vulnerability is a tall order, and a scary one. It won’t happen overnight. So why don’t we start with a small opportunity to be more vulnerable? Let’s start with admitting we need rest.
How Shame Prevents us From Taking a Day Off
According to the US Travel Association’s State of the American Vacation report in 2018, more than half of Americans don’t use all their paid vacation days. It’s hard to believe! These are not employees who need to work an extra day to afford their bills – these are forfeited paid days. How did we get to this place?
Consider the beliefs you might hold that could stop you from taking a day off. Could feelings of shame be sabotaging your vacation days? Here are some examples to consider:
- “Admitting I need a break implies that I don’t enjoy my work.” Are you worried your boss will think you aren’t a committed employee?
- “If I take a day off, my coworkers will have to pick up my slack.” Do you feel guilty for needing rest? Are you scared that your coworkers will judge you to be a bad team player?
- “Taking a rest doesn’t reflect the high performer that I am.” Do you think you need to seem invincible to garner respect? Might your clients or colleagues think less of you if you took a vacation day?
- “My partner at home works long hours. It’s not fair for me to take a day off.” Are you afraid your partner would judge you to be lazy for taking a rest?
In all of these scenarios, there’s a fear of loss of connection. That is, you believe a relationship could be threatened if you are open about what you need. In the end, you decide not to take a day off. Ultimately, the risk seems too high that you’ll lose a connection if you honor your needs. You never find out what insights and relationships may have developed if you’d taken a break.
Change the Story About Connection
It’s really easy to get into a habit of telling yourself, “I have to.” We create stories about all the things we “have to” do, and the other-than-conscious mindset weaves together a tapestry of bad things that will happen if we don’t. However, the reality is that you don’t “have to” do anything at all. There are potential consequences to your actions, but they are typically not as devastating as you think they will be.
You can change this story by considering the benefits of an emotional/mental/spiritual health day. This includes benefits to exactly the connections you’re afraid of losing. The power of vulnerability will bring you benefits that often outweigh any negative consequences. For instance, you might create new stories, like:
- “If I call in and admit that it’s simply a mental health day, my boss will trust me to be authentic and tell the truth when it counts.”
- “If I take a day off, my coworkers might open up and admit that they need breaks, too. We might finally have an open conversation about how understaffed we are and come up with some solutions.”
- “If I’m honest that I need a day for rest and my clients don’t have my help that day, they may realize how much my work positively impacts their success. It could deepen their trust in me.”
- “If I take a day off, I can clear my mind and see the status of my home life with fresh eyes. This is an opportunity for my partner and I to connect more deeply about our needs.”
It requires vulnerability to say you need a break. If you’re in a job where you can’t be honest about this and instead have to fake physical illness, I believe you should be actively hunting for something new. Mental and emotional health breaks are just as important as the physical ones. Risky as it may be, call in with the awareness that you just need a day off, without excuses. Taking time for rest is important for your success at work and in your relationships.
Practice the Power of Vulnerability: with Breakthrough Coaching
As a breakthrough coach, I see teams and individuals grow rapidly when they address the risks that hold them back. Being vulnerable is scary, because it means admitting things about ourselves that others might not like. However, when we show vulnerability, we also tell others that we’re open to real connection.
Are you ready to honor your truth more regularly at work? Schedule a complimentary consultation. I’ll help you get crystal clear on where you are and where you want to be. I’ll also provide my best recommendations for next steps to show up more powerfully. Get more of what you want in life. I’ll show you how!
Written by Craig Tennant
At Engaging Breakthroughs, Craig Tennant delivers breakthrough success workshops and online life coaching to increase emotional intelligence. He offers proven leadership development for leaders who seek to build effective teams, break through to success in their careers, and discover life beyond the 9 to 5.