It’s long been thought that Shame is a dirty word, in fact most people would rather run for the hills than have a conversation about shame. I am a dab hand at shame, a life expert you could call it, if there was a qualification for shame, I’d have it with bells on. Working through trauma requires you to make friends with shame. It’s a compulsory part of the journey if healing and growth is what you’re after.
So I think it’s time we started talking about shame more openly because as Brene Brown says, ‘yes shame is difficult to talk about but it’s not nearly as dangerous as what we create in the silence’
I’m here to tell you that Shame is actually a beautiful word. If you’re brave enough, it’s the place where true personal growth can spring forward and catapult your life beyond your wildest dreams and I’m here to explain how!
But first, here are Brene’s quick facts about Shame (and she’s the real expert after all);
- we all have shame
- no one wants to talk about shame
- the less you talk about it the more you have it
Apparently the only people who don’t experience shame are sociopaths, so you decide, are you a sociopath or do you experience shame?
Shame is usually triggered by two things, our feelings of ‘not being good enough’ or a sense of imposter syndrome ‘who do you think you are?’
When I’m triggered into a shame shit-storm, I notice that I usually try very hard to reduce my size in the world, preferably to smaller than elf size so I’m unnoticeable, I’m pretty good at hiding from the world (if I need to). I get panicky and start to notice concerns about not being loved, not feeling accepted, I can get a little needy (in a nerdy way). I’m also really good at pretending to brush it off in a ‘whatever’ teenager Kevin and Perry way and when it’s really bad, I have a terrifying sense of a looming abandonment approaching me that will banish me from all fun, love and acceptance. Yep, welcome to my shit storm. Panicky pants at the ready, logic and reason away on holiday, and I’M ALL ALONE.
So for someone like me where courage and daring greatly are driving forces, I have to be willing to embrace and risk some shame in my life. Otherwise you see, I’d never do anything. I’d never step into the arena, follow my dreams, build crazy blogs and movements that I hope can change the world. Instead I’d be far too busy worrying about what other people will think of me, making assumptions of how they’ll judge me, writing lists of all the ‘asshole, wanker, tw*t, idiot, cocky, show-off, silly bugger’ words that I can imagine hearing once I’m standing in the arena. All the words and thoughts that could encourage me to play small, to be insignificant, to waste my life.
We all have our own reaction to shame by the way, when we start to feel the raw emotion of a shame shitstorm stirring in our bodies, some of us will avoid it all costs (refusing to accept they have it), some of us will instead try to numb it with eating, drinking, staying busy (*insert your own drug of choice), some of us will pack it down into our bodies until it makes us ill, and some of us will explode (literally).
So what’s the key you ask??? Notice it, make friends with it, love it even. Awareness is everything. The more curious you can become about how you respond to ‘stuff’, the more able you will be to break it down and understand the patterns that play out in your life.
So next time you notice yourself triggered, notice your immediate response, is it to attack, defend, or run to the hills. Then ask yourself whether you feared a ‘not good enough’ message being the undertone to what triggered you or was it your own inner critic asking who the hell you thought you were to be brilliant, to step out, to shine. Then write a list of all the counter arguments to those thoughts. Convince yourself more that you deserve it, that you are capable, that you should at least try. Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll start to notice your own patterns showing up and once you’re noticing the patterns, you can start to choose how you respond to them.
Find yourself a shame friend, someone you trust totally who will not judge you or tell you what they think you should do. Someone to help you unpack and explore what else is possible for you next time you’re in a shit-storm.
And remember, a storm can also be beautiful, finding your way to the eye of the storm could just be the most magical place you’ll ever find within yourself.
Originally published at wearebravesouls.co.uk