The more I explore what it means to cultivate authenticity, the more I find there are some pretty big things that can get in the way of stepping into the fullest expression of ourselves. Enter stage left….shame. Yeah I am with you, not my favorite thing to talk about either. I am beginning to realize however, this is just the trick that shame likes to play. Now I know I am personifying shame a bit, but lets just go with it. Shame, as defined by Brene Brown, is “an intensely painful feeling of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”. Shame is subversive. It hides in the recesses of our minds and the inserts itself into our experience, often when we least expect it. When this happens we rush to hide. Hide who we are, hide what we are feeling, hide the fear of being “found out”. Whatever that means to us. The thing shame hates the most is exposure. The more we normalize and acknowledge its presence, say its name out loud, explore its triggers in our life, the less power it has. Now this can be a challenging task when our default is to show up in our Sunday best, keeping hidden all the things we would rather other folx not see. It is in this way, that shame can become a barrier to living our most authentic life. The journey is to begin to uncover the areas in which shame hides, and hold them up to the gentle light of the truth. The truth that I am enough, you are enough, we are enough. Period. End of sentence. We are worthy of connection, love, and belonging just by the mere fact that we exist. When we can begin to let that truth sink into our cells, shame begins to loosen its stronghold and our authentic self is given what it deserves, a front row seat.