Everybody’s got it, but nobody wants to talk about it.
We all have a victim story.
We have all been hurt.
We have all hurt others.
We all have shame to resolve.
Taking responsibility for the good, the bad, the ugly, and the deeply shameful stuff takes intense bravery. Some people stay in perpetual denial because it's hard to face the vulnerability and the risk of rejection, misunderstanding, and judgment. It's easier to say "I'm not someone that deals with shame", "I don't have any regrets", “anyone else would have done the same”, "I just had to put on my big girl panties and move on", "it's not that big of a deal", or "other people experience worse." We say many things to diminish or numb the pain of our past and our shame. It takes real courage to own every bit of the pain, the wounds, the shame.
The courage is worth it.
It has become a daily practice for me to identify my shame triggers as they come up. One of the biggest indicators of underlying shame is defensiveness. My husband refers to this behavior as “the attorney.” The attorney appears when something has been said that I interpret as an attack on my value. Someone might have said something like “Oh, you drink coffee with sugar? I wouldn’t have expected that” or “How long ago did you start writing your book?” or “How many books have you read this year?” or “I make it a priority to see my family once a week. You don’t see yours that often?” If the attorney interprets any of these questions/comments as threats, it’s defense time. When the attorney comes out, I know I am in trouble. Shame triggers have been hit and I am desperately attempting to prove that I am still worthy, still loveable, and that I still belong. Internally, my worthiness is at stake and I will fight to the death to prove to you I am still good enough.
As much as I hate those agonizing feelings and I really dislike my guttural reaction to defend myself, I have learned to appreciate them deeply. They are my warning signs. They are my truth-telling guides. They point to shame triggers that need to be resolved.
My definition of a shame trigger is this: The tender places where I don’t feel I am good enough, have done enough, or possess enough.
I will get into the next step of resolving those shame triggers in my next blog. For now, pay attention to identifying what brings up feelings of not being “enough”. Pay attention to your own “attorney” who jumps to defend your value and what shame lies underneath. Awareness is the first step to overcoming the shame within. It is not comfortable to face the shame that surfaces, but I promise, it is worth it.
“You can choose courage or comfort, but you cannot choose both.” – Brene Brown
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.