If I had to choose the ugliest, most painful emotion for me, it would be shame.
It shows up easily and quickly, like a Spring shower in Oregon.
It’s heavy like an anchor and drowns my heart.
It fills my head with lead and I collapse in on myself like a wilting flower.
The funny thing about shame is that if I were the only person on the planet… I’d never feel it.
Shame was taught to me by others, ever since I was a child… and it continues to this day.
It sounds like “You should be ashamed of yourself… for getting angry or jealous… for hitting your little sister… for wanting more money… for having fun when others aren’t… for having sex… or even just thinking about it… for wanting a life bigger than the one you have… for charging people money for coaching… for wasting food, time, energy, resources… for perpetuating the idea that people can think more positively and feel better… for being a terrible wife and mother…”
And on… and on… and fucking on…
Not all of the “shamers” are so blatant though.
Some frame their chastisement in holier-than-thou statements like:
“I would never do drugs”
“I could never charge people for coaching”
“Rich people are greedy”
“Once a cheater… always a cheater”
Their judgemental tone insinuates that anyone who thinks differently is somehow beneath them and shameful.
What I want you to know is that everyone is judging… all the time.
They can’t even help it.
You’re doing it, too… right now. You’re judging every word you’re reading. You’re judging me.
You might be thinking “Oh no, not me! I don’t judge people!” but you do. You TOTALLY do… and that’s OKAY.
Your primitive… habit… caveman… monkey… lizard… whatever-you-wanna-call-it… BRAIN… just does it automatically.
It’s perfectly normal and I’m not offended. In fact, I’m glad your brain is functioning normally. I like all my readers to have a functioning brain.
And that’s the first “way” of the four I promised you. In other words…
Be aware that everyone is always judging, and not necessarily from a place of trying to hurt you, but from a place of protecting themselves… and that’s okay… and normal.
People judge so they can dominate. They dominate so they’re not dominated by others.
It sounds evil and nefarious. But it’s not. It’s a survival skill.
And now… the second “way” is to know that you don’t have to accept or agree with anyone else’s judgment.
Decide whose opinion matters.
Brené Brown suggests writing the names of the people whose opinions matter to you on a 1” by 1” square of paper.
There may only be room for 2-3 people and they’re your Square Squad.
If I were you, I’d make sure one of them is yourself, the other is your dog, and if there’s room… someone whose life you’d like to emulate… like your grandma or Jesus or your life coach.
Okay… if you took my advice and wrote your own name on the square, let’s talk about those opinions you have about yourself.
Here’s the third “way”… and it practically makes the first two unnecessary.
Own your thoughts about yourself, because only YOUR thoughts make you feel shame.
No other person… or even your dog, for that matter… can make you feel shame.
They can SAY anything they like.
They can point at you and laugh.
They can make you strip naked and walk down cobblestone streets to your castle while chanting “SHAME… SHAME” and throwing rotten vegetables at you.
But they CANNOT MAKE YOU FEEL SHAME.
You’re the most powerful bitch in the room because you decide what’s actually on your “shameful” list… and only YOUR list counts.
Other people’s idea of what’s shameful only hurts you when you add it to your list.
For instance, if someone said to me, “Shame on you for having blonde hair”, I’d think “Are you kidding me? There’s nothing wrong with blonde hair.”
But if I was raised to believe dyeing and cutting my hair is a sin… aka, shameful (and many people are raised to believe that) then I would feel shame for my blonde hair, because I would have added it to my shame list as a child.
So, review your list: Did you add the items to it yourself… and do you like the reason you added them?
Or did someone else add them… and you just need to purge them?
Do you want to keep your list? Does it align with YOUR values and who you are today… who you want to be in the future?
If not… drop it like it’s hot.
Then check out “way” number four…
Stop believing you’re bad or broken just because of something you did in the past… Or because of something you didn’t do that you think you “should” have.
I know… easier said than done, right?
A step in that direction is to acknowledge the ACT can be “shameful” but that doesn’t mean that YOU are. You can believe it’s wrong to do something and not believe that YOU are bad because you did it.
It’s actually the main reason I became a coach. To help people stop beating themselves up for their past and using the things they did as evidence they’re bad or worthless.
Because guess what… we’ve ALL done bad shit in the past!
And it doesn’t define who you are now.
You’re not the sum of the parts of your past. You’re only the parts you still carry.
Put them down. Release anything that’s no longer serving you.
Especially, beliefs, rules, stories, and their associated shame.
You can’t change your past, but you can change how you think about it.
And once you decide your past doesn’t define you, ask yourself “Now what?”
When I’m feeling shame and I need to know that other people have felt like total fuck-ups and can still do amazing things, I listen to P!NK. She inspires me to hold my head up and be myself.
Grab some tissues and enjoy her new video for “All I Know So Far”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xuy-V_3V-4g