UH Prof Hosts Online Read-Along of Book on Shame

Social Media Community Will Read, Blog, Podcast about ‘I Thought It Was Just Me’

Choosing authenticity means cultivating courage, exercising compassion and nurturing connection. It is a quality defined by University of Houston research professor Bren Brown on her Web site, http://www.ordinarycourage.com, and a guiding principle as she leads a two-month international, online read-along of her book, "I Thought It Was Just Me," which discusses the impact of shame on every aspect of our lives.

"Leading authentic lives is a basic human journey, and people are mindful of that journey," Brown said. "We're tired. We're exhausted with the pleasing and the perfection. We want to feel worthy and loveable for who we are."

People can join the read-along, listen to Brown's podcasts of the material or post messages at http://www.ordinarycourage.com/ Participants also can receive updates to their Facebook or Twitter accounts or sign up for an RSS feed.

Brown, who teaches in the UH Graduate College of Social Work, has spent the past 10 years studying shame, authenticity and belonging. She has created an international dialogue about how to move constructively through shame, grow from the experiences and choose authenticity. Over the next eight weeks, this community will read, write, create, discuss, debate and share their experiences through social media.

"I'm facilitating the effort, but people are staying up to date with the blog, podcasts and Web site," Brown said."They're men and women working alone, with friends and in groups. Using social media to talk about issues can be a powerful tool to help us feel connected; however, it's never a substitute for in-person connection. As long as we remember that, we can put social media to good use. I am inspired by and grateful for this community and their willingness to share."

New chapter discussions begin on Mondays; Wednesdays are for feedback; and Fridays are for discussions on what inspires. The effort sparked 100,000 page views and 4,000 unique visitors the first week.

Brown spent seven years interviewing hundreds of women and men and found that shame manifests itself in many ways: body image, parenthood, family, money and work, perfection, blame, mental and physical health, addiction, sex, aging and religion.

"When we are feeling shame, the camera is zoomed in tight, and all we see is our flawed selves, alone and struggling. We think to ourselves, ‘I'm the only one. Something is wrong with me. I am alone.' The less we understand shame and how it affects our feelings, thoughts and behaviors, the more power it exerts over our lives," she said.

The international, online read-along ends May 27.

For more information on the UH Graduate College of Social Work, visit http://www.sw.uh.edu/main/home.php.

For more information on Brené Brown, visit http://www.brenebrown.com/ .