Ok, so you’ve identified your shame triggers.
You’ve stopped the “attorney” dead in her tracks and observed where your defense mechanisms point to your buried shame.
You’ve observed when you shrink down and feel “not good enough” around someone more accomplished.
You’ve felt the weight of being inadequate when you make mistakes or let someone down.
You’re exercising self awareness of your shame triggers, but don’t yet know what to do with that shame…
(Shame triggers: The tender places where I don’t feel I am good enough, have done enough, or possess enough.)
Today, we’re going to discuss the action steps to addressing the shame that surfaces in your daily life:
1. Name it. Claim it.
Shame can’t survive when it is spoken. If you identify it, don’t be afraid to owe that shit. “I’m in deep shame right now because ________.” Naming it helps us move into a space of taking action and taking our feelings seriously. Often, we try to downplay our shame, calling it by another name or suppressing it entirely. Be bold and painfully honest. It will empower you to face shame head on.
2. Identify the story.
What’s the story playing in your head? What meaning have you attached to what is happening around you?
Does the lack of money in your bank account tell you you’re a lousy provider?
Does the anger of a loved one mean you are a bad mother? Daughter? Spouse?
Does your friend dislike you because she said she wasn’t coming to your party?
Clarify what is fact and what is fiction in your situation. Often, our shame comes out in the stories we are making up.
As Brene Brown writes in her many phenomenal works about shame, three things keep shame alive: secrecy, silence, and judgment. There is one thing that shame cannot survive, however, and that is .
In this article, I want to stress the importance of relationship and community. Being independent and self-reliant is often glamorized and encouraged. Even I tend to go at my work alone. It is how I work best and I truly enjoy it. Shame is one of those things, however, that is not just a simple internal job. It thrives alone in your head. Remember – secrecy, silence, and judgment – the crazy committee in between my two ears can really weaponize these deadly tools…
The only option to resolve shame is .
This means I must become vulnerable enough to reach out to a fellow human being and share my pain. Only then can I move past the shame into growth and action.
“Hey Tara, do you have a moment I could share something with you?”
Tara: “Sure. What’s up?”
Rose: “I just lost my job today and I am in deep shame. The story I’m telling myself is I’m just a lousy employee and my worst fear is that I’m not a hard enough worker. I’ve always been afraid of appearing lazy.”
Tara: “Oh, I am sorry to hear your in pain! I’ve been there too. A few years back, I got written up and I struggled with the same feelings.”
Rose: “Oh it makes me feel so much better to know I am not alone. What did you do when you got written up?”
Tara: “I felt inadequate and defensive about my worth as an employee. Then I realized lots of people get written up or corrected and that doesn’t mean they’re bad employees. What would you say to someone in your shoes?”
Rose: “Well, I suppose I would tell them to remember these things aren’t personal. Sometimes, certain jobs aren’t a good fit but that doesn’t mean all jobs are a bad fit. Just because someone loses their job doesn’t make them lazy or a lousy employee.”
Tara: “No way! Remember how many successful people failed or were fired from their jobs?? Some of the most successful people in the world fell many times before they succeeded.”
Some of the most powerful words ever spoken are: “me too.” We all want to know we are not alone and that we are not broken or flawed. It’s so empowering to hear others fall too and that it has not kept them from love or belonging.
So, the moral of the story is this: don’t sit in your shame. Deal with it. Don’t let it fester or cripple you or let it keep you from living your life.
Name it. Nail the story you’re telling yourself. Reach out to a trusted friend who has earned the right to hear your pain.
If you want a deeper look at shame, please check out Brene Brown’s work. You can see several of her works right here on my website library here.
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.