We’ve all felt it. The small whisper of a voice telling us we are not enough. We hope no one will notice. Maybe it’s that small bit of a “love handle” that doesn’t fit so neatly into our jeans anymore. Maybe it’s the fact you didn’t make the grades to graduate with that four-year degree on time. Maybe you’re dying inside because you forgot the cake for your son’s birthday and the shame is almost too much to bear. We’ve all been there. We all still go there sometimes.
The danger in these subtle but heavy voices is their power to kill all joy, love, and belonging in our lives. Shame is the voice we all have that solicits the belief we are not enough, we don’t do enough, and we don’t have enough. Some might argue shame has some value to motivate us to improve. Based on the research of Brene Brown and other shame researchers, shame leads to nothing but violence, addiction, bullying, and self-harm.
So how do we begin to change these voices? And how can we stop contributing to the shaming of our loved ones?
According to Brene Brown, shame will continue to fester and grow if it has three things: silence, secrecy, and judgment. The only way to face shame head on and banish it is to bring it into the light and share it with a trusted and empathetic friend. Shame can’t survive empathy. The words “me too” are some of the most powerful words ever spoken. Shame screams two messages: “You are not enough” and “Who do you think you are?” Find a trusted friend that will call BS. Practice separating yourself from your behavior. “I am stupid” is shaming and self-harming. “I did something stupid” is a healthy way to address a mistake.
What is the opposite of shame? Worthiness. Shame says, “You are not enough”. Yet, the truth is you were born enough. There is no prerequisite for worthiness and you can never do anything to make yourself more or less valuable. A great way to cultivate worthiness is to practice affirmations. Remind yourself often of your value exactly how you are. You don’t have to wait to be thinner, prettier, richer, or more educated. You are worthy of love and belonging right now.
Give it back
When we let go of shame and our own self-judgment, we are able to look at others with more compassion. Many people do not feel safe to be authentic because they are so afraid of being judged. They are afraid someone else might see their shame. When we get honest and vulnerable about our own shame, we empower others to do the same. By viewing others as we create a safe space for them to be authentic. Our relationships become much more deep and real when we are allowed to show up whole – imperfections and all. Authenticity is a win for everyone.
So get brave and show up real! Address your darker, shameful voices and share your feelings with someone who will remind you you are enough as you are. Practice talking to yourself in a way that respects who you are now and values your life as is, without seeking value in something different. In giving yourself permission to be who you are now, you also create a safe space for your loved ones to be accepted with their imperfections. Go celebrate your life and relish in beauty you already embody!
Jillian Landis is a Self-Care and Worthiness Coach at Evolve Personal Coaching, blogger, and writer for Nourish + Bloom. Jillian's passion is encouraging big hearted individuals to extend a little of their love to themselves, so they may serve this world at their greatest potential. Prior to coaching, Jillian served in the mental health profession for 10 years and has a vast knowledge of human behavior, which she utilizes to create effective change in the lives of her clients.