No one is immune from feelings of shame. No matter who you are, how successful by social standards or what kind of position of authority you hold, shame is part of being human.
Since my personal stand is for all of us to have the freedom to be conscious leaders of our lives, I know that shame can erode the spirit, and distract us from what we want to do, who we want to be and who we can be.
We cannot inspire and lead when we suffer from free-floating or debilitating shame.
Since Brené Brown's liberating research, we are more familiar and perhaps even more comfortable with the subject of shame.
Among many of her important distinctions are these; shame denotes "I am a mistake" and guilt, "I made a mistake." If either of them seriously diverts your ability to live with a sense of fortitude, worthiness and purpose, there are many ways to remedy that.
Often, guilt translates into "I am a mistake, unworthy, wrong and bad," even if we draw demarcation lines. They bleed into one another.
Shame comes in many forms - the misguided offences and excesses of youth, the unintended consequences of passion, the broken hearts and unkind words - all of which, when remembered, cause us to cringe.
Then there are all the ways in which we've been targeted or taunted for being bigger, smaller, thinner, heavier, darker, lighter, of this culture, of that race, of this faith, of that gender.
There are forms of shame that seem less tangible, lingering like a low-grade infection. They hang around like a fog that refuses to lift, nagging like the overbearing relative who doesn't know when to keep quiet or leave. They gang up, come in waves, and when they come, they strike hard.
They tell you that you're not enough, not as good as, that you don't add up, that there's something intrinsically wrong with you, and they rattle on.
You may think that removing shame will take a supernatural intervention. But what you need is to practice telling new stories of hope.
Here are a few ways to cut through self-deception and move forward.
- Begin by knowing with certainty that shame no longer serves you. You don't need to give it the most comfortable chair in the house.
It is in community, not in isolation, that you'll begin to thaw and reshape your stories. It is there that you'll learn compassion for others and find it for yourself. Together you'll support each other in becoming whole, living from a place of confident self-authority and soul.
Many who have suffered - as we all have - are creating new stories that will inspire you and help you flourish. Hang out with those folks. You owe it to yourself.
As Jungian analyst Marion Woodman wrote,
Shame was put upon you. It is not yours. Your soul need not be limited by shame.
You, dear leader, are in charge, fierce driver of your own most glorious chariot.
Miriam works with people who want to combine gentleness, soul and discernment and who want to lead powerfully, authentically and unapologetically. We are all leaders. We get to lead our lives and make an impact that illuminates.
If you want to receive posts as they are published, become a fan. That's next to my name above the title. Have a gentle day. ~ Miriam
Top photo credit: lilli2de / Foter / CC BY-SA
Bottom photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA