The day before I was to speak on the radio about the violence in my past marriage, I found myself huddled on the floor crying.
“Why on earth do I want to share my story? How will this benefit anyone?” I thought. It came to me, after I blew my nose and texted my support women, that it wasn’t the story itself that I needed to tell. It was the universal experience of shame that I wanted to share.
We all have shame. It’s the voice, or impetus, that stops you from fully participating in your life. Even when you see others doing something you desire to do yourself, it’s the shame that stops you. If you are overweight the shame voice is the one that says you can’t be a dancer or ever be loved. If you didn’t have that shame what might you do? Take a dance class? Tell your friends you’re looking to date and go online?
Our hiding is actually food for shame. Like a mushroom, shame grows in the dark and is fed by our negative self-talk (i.e. the shit we tell ourselves). For me, it was the thought that I shouldn’t tell you that story. What will you think of me for marrying someone after there had been an act of violence? Unless you know a lot about mushrooms there is danger that you could pick a very toxic one. Shame festers and grows inside us (‘mushrooms”) if we keep it in the dark and don’t seek help or educate ourselves about its danger.
The shame voice comes from our deepest fears of not being enough (good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, strong enough, etc. etc. etc.) and therefore bad/wrong in some way.
Cues that you are feeling shame:
  • Self-doubt is one of the biggest markers for shame. Why would you doubt yourself if you trusted yourself (your choices and behaviors)?
  • Shame is often the voice behind your self-judgments. Think of one judgement you have about yourself. Is it something you would rather not tell anyone. Or wish you hadn’t done or didn’t do regularly? Then it’s shame.
  • You have a choice and there’s a should involved. Or a shouldn’t. ‘Nuff said?
  • What aren’t you doing in your life NOW, that you have always thought you would? What is/has really stopped you? OK – many circumstances are involved but if you take the externals away, what would you be doing that you aren’t? Could be that shame has held you back.
 What to do:
  • Experience it. Think hard about a self-judgment. How does your body react with that thought? Where you tighten could very well be where you carry your shame.
  • Listen to your thoughts: Listen to when you say, “should” or shouldn’t”. Then ask Why? Or Why not?
  • Feel it. Put your hand on your belly above your belly button. That’s a great place to sense, feel, and listen to what the body says to you about shame. (for you anatomy types – over your duodenum).
  • Share it. Oh yes! The quickest way to get through shame is to act as if you aren’t in shame and tell someone. Or admit you have shame. And tell someone. See the box below for support from me.
    • If sharing it is too big of a leap for some of you, write it down. Maybe a few times so it doesn’t hurt when you write the words anymore.
 Bringing my shame into the light, here is the link to that talk. It can be found at Roberta Teller’s Blog.spoke on her Wise Women Speak radio show on KOWS.
 It took me a month to send the link to my newsletter. That was my shame in action. Just saying…..
Talk about killjoy! Shame may be the biggest one.