Soul Without Shame is Byron Brown’s deep, broad and practical guide to first knowing and ultimately freeing ourselves from the grip of the inner critic.
It’s the critic that has us hold back our contribution, doubt ourselves when there is no cause to do so, and also has us holding back others. Perhaps most importantly it’s the critic that keeps us tightly bound by the norms which surround us, necessary to begin with but ultimately a huge restraint on our capacity to bring what’s most needed. If we are ever to develop the capacity to speak up, to create, to make art, to lead compassionately and wisely, working with the inner critic is a vital step.
This is a book to be savoured, taken slowly. I suggest spreading your reading out over a year or so, studying each chapter and taking up the various exercises and practices as you go. It’s from these – coupled with what you’ll learn from Brown’s clear explanations – that the most powerful possibilities for your own learning will come.
As you read, you’ll see how the critic is a necessary part of our early development, how we keep it going in adulthood long after it’s served its purpose, how to recognise it in action, and how sneaky it can be, disguising itself as conscience or simply hiding itself away while it’s at work. You’ll also see how you can create some space and start to step out of its shadow.
A wonderful companion piece to Stephen Pressfield’s Do the Work
which takes on the same topic from the point of view of creativity and art – surely the activities at the heart of all leadership and principled human action.