SHAME on You!
I absolutely hate the statement- ‘Shame on you.’ Here is the definition of shame, “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” When we screw up in life (and we all do) adding shame to an already painful experience is like pouring gasoline on a bonfire. Shame is the dark feeling creeping in the shadows of our mistakes that tells us ‘we’re’ the mistake and not worth forgiveness. I also see shame and fear going hand in hand. Shame is feeding the sharks and our fear keeps us from getting out of the water. It’s an awful cycle that keeps us silent and afraid. So instead of speaking our truth, fear shuts our mouths and shame tells us to stay quiet.
I also believe that shame is what feeds addictions and destroys our ability to be vulnerable about our struggles. So that being true, what is the way out of shame? FIrst, I think it’s about being honest and owning your own story. For me, I had huge shame around my divorce, my weight and the lack of success I had with both. Then I went into the dating world and I heard from friends and family, who are you dating this time? Don’t you think you’re expecting too much? I even heard from dates, “are you sure it isn’t you?”. They were speaking their unsolicited truth, but all it did was feed the shame of not ‘making’ a previous relationship work. I was trying to own my truth, but the insecure part of me was letting someone else’s interpretation of my life feed the tiny seed of shame that still existed. My therapist had a great perspective on dating; you’re showing up, asking questions, observing and then deciding if the relationship is a good fit for you. Instead of staying when it’s not, you move-on AND that’s the way dating should be!
I felt the shame/fear combo again recently while posting my health journey. I was terrified. I felt like posting a story that was still in progress left me open to criticism. I also was feeling shame over my unsuccessful past attempts to harness health. I thought that once I reached my goal- once I was perfect (ha-never)- then I would share my story. Thankfully, my coach encouraged me to share from the place I was currently residing. That took a huge chunk of vulnerability for me to admit my struggle and share that despite some success on the scale I’m still not ‘there’ yet. It was the same fear of failure that I had felt when sharing about my divorce. What changed from then to now? I made a decision to own my story and stopped caring what ‘others’ thought or said about me. ’Bye Felcia.’
Shame over our past mistakes or our current situation keeps us in bondage. It’s time though to shine light on this shame and bring it out of the darkness. Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that. – MLK If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, here it is: share your story. OWN your story, because there are people who need to hear it. The most motivating and inspirational people that I know and follow have honestly shared their struggles. And the result, I along with thousands of others have loved and related to them more. It’s part of why I share so much about my personal journey and struggles- to remind us that we’re in this life thing together. You are NOT alone.