Shame Be Gone!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I had intended to write a blog about authenticity today. But I am watching Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday this morning and I can feel my intentions shifting. They’re being hijacked by the topic her guest, Brene’ Brown, author of Daring Greatly, is speaking about.

She is discussing shame. How it limits us. How it corrodes our self-esteem.

Brown has studied shame. She defines it in part as the intense feeling or belief that we are unworthy of love. According to her, we’re all infected with shame. She says it’s lethal.

And the less you talk about it, the more of it you probably have.

Brown believes shame can happen in an instant or can manifest from a lifetime of subtle programming. She also says that shame correlates strongly with addiction and depression.

Her comments got me thinking about the subject. Where does shame come from? What does it look like?

I think shame can come from everywhere. From anyone. Maybe it’s a teacher who humiliates a student in front of the class for not knowing how to solve a math equation. (Me, in the seventh grade.) Maybe it’s a parent who second guesses a child too much under the guise of being helpful…while inadvertently eroding their self esteem in the process. I know this one, too.

Sometimes circumstances like divorce are a source of shame to people.

Shame affects the way we think, the choices we make, how we carry ourselves in the world. I think it affects what we think we deserve.

How does shame present itself? I’ve seen it manifest in perfectionism. I‘ve got to be perfect, be the best employee, be the best mother, the best wife. . . so I can be loved.

I’ve seen it present itself in the opposite way too–by not showing up or doing your best work. Why bother trying if you already know you’re not good enough or smart enough?

I think as a culture, we use shame a lot. And not just in schools. We find it in politics. In religion. In parenting techniques. How many of us have heard (or gulp, even said before, “Shame on you!”) to someone you’re trying to control? I guess, I’ll raise my hand on that one, too.

When I think about it in the context of Brown’s talk now, I feel a little ashamed.

The truth is…sometimes we are the perpetrators of shame.  We can be the worst offenders when we shame ourselves for being imperfect. When we beat ourselves up for a host of sins like:being too chubby,  making poor financial decisions, being attracted to the wrong relationships, being addicted to drama or drink, or whatever.

And it occurs to me as I write this, that shame keeps us stuck. It’s a dark place where we can hide ourselves from the world. Because maybe, maybe, it feels more normal to us. And if we’re totally honest, maybe it gives us a hall pass to do less, and maybe accept less from ourselves…maybe even from others.

So how do we dissolve the pain? Brown talked about the importance of bringing light to it. Talking about our shame, bringing it out in the open is a first step to healing it. Though she cautions that you must be careful who you share your shame with.

I agree. But I also say, you can start by sharing your shame with yourself. But do it from a place of compassion. Look at yourself through “your soul’s eyes,” and know that you are a divine spirit. As many inspirational leaders have said, “we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  The truth is…there is no shame in being human.

So love yourself though it. Learn from your shame. And move on.

In my book Tao Flashes, I speak about compassion as being an important value and principle in life, and particularly at midlife. Compassion is also one of the basic tenets of Taoism. And Christianity. And Buddhaism. And all credible religions.

So remember, you are lovable. And there is no shame in being human.

Question: What shame do you need to forgive and release in your life?

Affirmation: I am lovable and honorable. I release any old stories that have left me feeling unworthy and ashamed of myself.


14 thoughts on “Shame Be Gone!

  1. I do not think the feeling of shame is in itself a bad thing. It is there to prompt us to change. When we do something harmful or mean, we should feel bad about it. We should feel so bad that we don’t want to repeat that act. We learn from our mistakes and our past, and we move forward. Those who never feel ashamed of their wrongdoing are truly frightening.

    • Ginger, I understand what you’re saying here. I think the voice of our conscience is an important tool. And yes, there are times when we act poorly, or are unkind, and need to hear this inner guidance so the behavior is not repeated or so that the unkind act can be rectified, if possible. But I am mostly talking about the kind of shame that erodes self-esteem, where one feels unloved or not good enough for not being perfect…for not having the right answer, etc. Sometimes we’re shamed by others when we don’t deserve to be, whether it’s teachers, judgmental friends, etc. Thank you for your thoughful comment.

  2. Great post, Lisa, very thoughtful. I like what you said: love yourself through it, learn from it and move on.

    • It is difficult to overcome. I think when we make a conscious effort to listen to our own self-talk, we’ll make some strides at ridding ourselves of our internal shame. Thanks for the comment and the re-tweet!

  3. The whole concept of shame is one I haven’t really fiddled with too much. One of my mom’s biggest lines was (when we were bad) “You should be ashamed of yourself.” Hmm. Must think how this all connects! Thanks for your post.

  4. i love this post. as we awaken it’s essential to uncover and heal our shame, to be the most empowered humans we can. and your point about shame being a ‘hall pass’ is very insightful. shame is so debilitating and painful and i am thankful for brene brown’s work and all those people who have the courage to discuss. thank you and namaste, aleya

    • What a sweet comment. Thank you for that. Sometimes I think shame is like a virus…it’s just waiting to be triggered. I think it’s important to work on ourselves, and when we are triggered, find the courage to examine it, kindly.

  5. Pingback: The Sanpchat Generation | Social Media

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s