Note 005: The Life-Sucking Cost of Shame!

SHAME IS THE FIRST COUSIN OF FEAR…AND WE KNOW THAT FEAR IS A NASTY ROBBER

Fear will rob you of joy.  Fear diminishes your self-concept. It keeps you in hiding. Shame does the same thing in a different way. Shame will keep you from showing up – showing up in your life, showing up in your business - and it will keep you from being who God intended you to be.  Shame immobilizes us…or, in rare cases, it drives us with the feeling of having something to prove, which is really just a mask for those feelings of shame.   What has shame taken from you?  And, are you ready to get it back?

SHAME - NOTE 005 - Sad Girl.jpg

SHAME STARTS EARLY AND PERSISTS, UNLESS WE DECIDE TO STOP IT

For many of us, shame starts in our childhood when our parents tell us not to repeat or not to tell something that happened in our homes or in our families. Certainly not everything needs to be shared with the world; but, in our young minds, this forced secrecy creates the idea that there’s something fundamentally bad or wrong about our lives and experiences - something bad or wrong about US.  Family shame is so powerful that it becomes hereditary; and, we can wear the shame of our ancestors - baked into us over generations - and then pass it down like our smile or our favorite recipes.

SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS SHAME?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines shame as “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety…the susceptibility to such emotion…or, a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute.”  I would add to that definition that it is a fear of being judged if anyone ever found out.  I’ve adapted a popular quote to say: 

 

“Guilt is feeling like you’ve done something bad;

fear is feeling like something bad is going to happen;

but, shame is feeling like you ARE bad.” 

 

There is no shortage of things to feel ashamed of:

·         our upbringing

·         our intelligence

·         our bodies

·         our skin color

·         our career missteps

·         our sexual history

·         our alcoholic parents

·         our own alcoholism

·         that failed business

·         being molested or raped

·         going through bankruptcy or foreclosure

·         experiencing or witnessing domestic violence

·         or any number of imperfections or undesirable circumstances. 

 

Most of us can check more than one of those boxes.  So what!?!  The Bible tells us what we should be ashamed of and, I bet, whatever you’re ashamed of isn’t on God’s list.  The scriptures say we should feel shame for: laziness (Prov. 10:5), arrogance (Psalm 119:78), forsaking God (Jeremiah 17:13; Isaiah 45:25), idolatry (Isaiah 45:16), and being a hater (Job 8:22).  Other than those, we need to just stop it.  And, if your shame does stem from something on God’s list, you can change it.  Starting now.

ARE WE BEING JUDGED OR JUDGING OURSELVES?

Shame is insidious because it is often self-afflicted.  We shame ourselves more than anyone else shames us.  Because we internalize it, it’s a form of self-abuse.  Consider if you heard someone else trying to make you feel as bad about your “shortcoming or impropriety” as you do.  In that case, you would recognize it for what it is: abuse. 

Sometimes other people do judge us. But, here’s the thing: whoever you think is judging you or will judge you is not worth your life, your health, or your business. Instead, that person likely is judgmental, hurt, and hiding their own stuff. Some people use shame as a weapon against you. But, you have to disarm them. And, I would wager that you are shaming yourself.

Recently, I was at a luncheon with some very smart and beautiful and successful women. We started talking and sharing our stories with each other and an interesting thing happened. One by one each of us shared a story of finding out that we were or that a very close relative was the product of an affair, or had lived a double life including 2 families simultaneously with two sets of children, or had found a half sibling on a DNA website. Each of us said that we had never told the stories out loud. And, guess what: nobody cared and we all still love each other.  Maybe family secrets were juicier before the era of reality TV and The Kardashians.

SHAME AGES & KILLS YOU

Shame is not just bad for your business; it's also bad for your health.  It requires keeping secrets and hiding, both of which require a great deal of physical, emotional, and psychic energy - 24/7. Shame robs you of peace because you cannot relax. You bear the weight of years of secrets and you exhibit the fatigue that comes from constantly trying to hide. Then consider the weight of the complicated character or elaborate costume you put on top of all of that. Not to mention that shame makes you self-centered because you spend so much time thinking about your own secrets and hiding.  In extreme cases, that can drive one to suicidal thoughts and actions.

LET IT GO. SHOW YOURSELF SOME GRACE. FIND PEACE.

Shame creates friction and rigidity in your energy and blocks your flow. Shame makes you dense and mechanical. As a result, God’s grace gets held up and your ability to be His vessel on earth becomes stagnant.  Brene Brown says that

“Shame cannot survive empathy.” 

Show yourself some empathy and get back to your business.