The topic of shame is up right now, in a big way. It popped up for me last week as I was sorting through some forgiveness work and it’s coming to me through work with clients and in conversations with friends. And at the perfect moment (of course!) I received as a gift an incredible CD by Brené Brown: Men, Women, and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough. Powerful stuff, y’all.
What I’ve been really noticing through my personal journey and my work with clients is that when we have an initial experience of shame and we really internalize it, we tend to spend the following years of our lives subconsciously putting ourselves in situations that reinforce the feeling of shame and unworthiness. We will procrastinate, act out in rage, shut down, do something the wrong way even though we know it’s wrong and more. Once we deem ourselves less-than, we will reinvent the unworthy wheel over and over again.
Brené makes a really lovely and important distinction between shame and guilt. Shame is the equivalent of “I am bad (mean, stupid, fat, ugly, lazy, etcetera)” while guilt is an expression of “I did something bad.”
This is huge.
With guilt we are able to process the event and the related emotions and move them out of our psyche. We can use the experience as a lesson and move on. With shame, we hold onto it and prove to ourselves over and over again how unworthy we are. We continue to blame and shame ourselves and we will attract the vibration into our lives in other ways as well. Eventually this can lead to depression, anxiety, -isms, and illness. It just doesn’t feel good. At all.
Most of us carry at least some shame. We are moving through a world and environment that demands that we be almost superhuman in actions, looks, and deeds, and that we do it with ease. We are taught from a young age not to cry, to just get it done, and to make sure it looks pretty to boot. We take on too much and think we are less than if we can’t manage it all.
Unfortunately I see a lot of people who were abusively shamed over and over again growing up. They never felt worthy of love and they were rarely supported. Everything they did was deemed wrong. Eradicating this type of shame can be seriously difficult, though very possible, work.
It can change. You can change. Through awareness, willingness, and a bit of courage, it is possible to get to the other side. A client recently told me that she feels like she is waking up. And she is! She is shifting patterns, shedding old outdated beliefs, and choosing to live a life in which she doesn’t need the armor she wore in the past. She is experiencing her life through a new lens and she is honoring herself through the process. She senses the big and positive change that is happening and she noted that she is becoming a different person. And even more importantly – she loves the person she is becoming.
If you’re ready to break through the patterns that are holding you back from living a life you love, let’s chat. I’m offering a free thirty-minute Breakthrough Assessment (click here to set it up) and I’d love to connect.