When Neuroanatomists Get Massive Strokes & Shame Resilience Researchers Get Shamed

In case you missed it, a video segment of Brene Brown from her recent Super Soul Sunday episode (on Oprah's OWN Network) got posted this weekend on UpWorthy. It caused quite a stir.



Brown's Twitter and Facebook accounts lit up on Sunday night as viewers took to social media to respond. Later that evening, she posted a blog article called "Teachers, Shame and Worthiness: A Lesson Learned." It was a clarification and an apology in response to the comments.

Some of the comments made to her were pretty shaming themselves. One person on Twitter said Brene earned no right to speak. Here is a shame resilience researcher, getting shamed publicly.

Certainly part of this is because once you get famous enough, no matter how well-loved and well respected you are, there will always be people who dislike you or disagree with you. But I got to thinking, I believe there is more to this. There have been multiple accounts of people whose life work revolves around something big and sometimes they end up experiencing what they study.

For example, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor,  the neuroanatomist who had a massive stroke. She went on to write about it in her book, My Stroke of Insight. The married cancer researchers who both got breast cancer.  Over time I have heard several stories like this. And now: the shame resilience researcher who gets shamed.

Why this phenomenon?

I believe in the law of attraction, but I don't think people who devote their lives to making others better by studying disease or shame end up experiencing it because that is where their energy goes. I don't think the law of attraction works that way.

What I might suggest is that sometimes these things happen to help us practice our life's work better.

This phenomenon also happened to me to a lesser extent. I had written and published a paper on "Creating a Safe and Caring Health Care Context for Women Who Have Sex with Women." Later that year, I went to my doctor and saw the diagnosis of "Ego Dystonic Homosexuality" sitting in my medical chart. This was exactly the kind of thing I had been studying and advocating against.

But it gave me additional insight, compassion, and empathy for the people for whom I was advocating -- valuable insight and perspective I wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Sometimes I think the Universe gives us these opportunities to do our heart's work better.

For the record, I've personally read Brene Brown's doctoral dissertation and followed her work closely. When she says shame is still used in our educational system today, I know she got this from her research data. She has the academic authority and years of research to prove it. However, I also think the Super Soul Sunday segment would have perhaps been taken better with a preface from Dr. Brown that acknowledged the many amazing teachers and leaders around the world who do exemplary and inspiring work. This perhaps would have clarified that she was not making a sweeping generalization. Anyone who has followed her work knows she loves teachers, but taken out of context, the segment could have been perceived as hurtful.

Every day life brings us choices and opportunities. Some of them are joyful. Some of them hurt. But all of them give us an opportunity to reiterate what our intention is. To reclaim what we want in our lives. To be the person we want to be.

Some days even bring us the gift of new insight to do our heart's work better. I think this is the Daring Greatly Dr. Brown writes and talks about and lives in her life.

I admire the courage it took for Dr. Brown to apologize and I also know she's got some shame resilience tools to help her deal with those who would have her believe she is anything other than enough. She's Daring Greatly more than ever.

Today I encourage you to pay attention to situations or opportunities that come your way.

Sometimes gifts are wrapped up in unconventional packaging.

My Best,


Photo Credit BreneBrown.com Featured Image Credit.