I was —in it— last week.
I felt hopeless. I felt like a failure.
Today I am still feeling those things…to a degree.
I wanted to go nuclear — to blow up the part of my life that was collapsing so it would be irreconcilable.
I wanted to disappear into a hole or curl into a ball under the covers at the foot of the bed so no one would find me or want to find me.
I wanted to push away anyone who dared to show concern about me, people who tried to penetrate my shields.
I wanted to collapse into myself.
Today I still want those things…to a degree.
Because that’s how shame feels. That's what shame does. That's how shame works.
“Shame is the fear of disconnection—it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection,” says Brené Brown.
And when I feel shame, I want to beat shame to the punch by burning bridges, shutting down, and severing contact.
My shame is softening to the degree that I am willing to invoke some shame resilience, which is defined as the ability to practice authenticity when we experience shame.
Taken directly from Brené Brown’s, Daring Greatly, here are three things you can do move past shame:
STEP 1: Recognize shame and your triggers.
Shame feels like a sucker punch to the stomach.
You double over in pain. You can breathe. You can’t stand up. You can’t look people in the eye.
At least, that’s what it’s like for me.
Knowing how your body, emotions, and mind react to shame allows you to see it, acknowledge it, and then do something about it.
STEP 2: Think critically.
Start talking to yourself as you would to a young child or to someone you love.
I reach for a calm, soothing, nurturing voice. Sometimes it’s the voice of a yoga teacher, a friend, a psychologist, a character in a movie, and sometimes it’s even the caring, loving voice I use with my children.
Then, with that soft and gentle voice, ask yourself if the expectations you have of yourself are realistic. Are they unattainable? Are they what you want to be or what you think others need or want from you?
STEP 3: Reach out and speak shame.
Shame cannot survive when it’s exposed to the light.
I did my best to stay open as I reached out to friends and shared my struggle.
I asked, “What have you done when you’ve lost all hope?” and “What do you do to dismantle a belief that no longer serves you?”
While they couldn’t speak to my specific issue, they did offer empathy.
And ultimately that’s all any of us need to heal.
While I haven’t gotten it all figured out yet, I do feel like I’m out of the >>DANGER ZONE<<.
I am allowing for the possibility of hope re-entering my life.
I am opening up space for beliefs that no longer serve me to be dismantled.
I am avoiding language like “can’t,” “won’t,” “shouldn’t,” “never,” and “always.”
And all of that is possible because I’ve recognized I’m feeling shame, I’m thoughtful about why I’m feeling this way, and I’m talking to the people I trust.
I hope you have people in your life who can listen, hold space, withhold judgement, connect with you emotionally, and let you know you are not alone.
Especially if you find yourself struggling with shame, because it’s something we all go through, and we think we have to suffer through it alone.
If you'd like, share with me in the comments section on my website what triggers you into shame and who you turn to when you’re feeling triggered.
Because shame grows in the shadows. It feeds off of secrets.
It’s only together we can bring light to shame and heal our hearts.
With great love,
P.S. Please know that if you need to talk I am here. At any time you can connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.