Is Shame Stealing Your Power?
Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough. – Brené Brown
“Shame on you!” was something we said when I was a kid. Of course we had no idea, really, what we were saying or that we were putting the other person in an impossible position. Shame is being bad and guilt is having done something bad, according to Brené Brown a research professor at the University of Houston. Holding onto shame can destroy you. If you make your shame your story you will lose your power. Since I am all about empowering women I must address this awkward subject. Shame traps you. It can take over your daily thoughts and change who you are or were meant to be.
Acknowledging guilt and moving on is the better way. We all make mistakes. Yes, all of us. Some of us acknowledge our mistakes, accept the guilt and keep going. Others have more difficulty shaking off the shame. Shame can debilitate you. Shame can cause you to self-destruct. Shame takes you down; accepting guilt can take you upward.
I’ve been in conversations with lots of women who are hurting many years after the events that caused them to experience shame. For many the shaming started in childhood with not-so-great parents. Others experienced an abusive relationship. For others circumstances that were out of their control brought on undeserved shame. They carry a heavy load that doesn’t get easier with time unless they do something to alleviate it.
5 Steps for Overcoming Shame
- Ask yourself, “Why am I still carrying shame?” Acknowledge how it affects your life.
- You may overcome shame when “you are willing to accept that others feelings and behavior have nothing to do with you.” –Margaret Paul, Ph.D. The Huffington Post
- “Surround yourself with resilient people who will listen to you, offer you encouragement, and help you find that spark you need to move forward. – Raphaela Browne, tiny buddha, simple wisdom for complex lives
- “To overcome shame, you need to learn that it’s OK to be who you are!” – Tony Schirtzinger at Help Yourself Therapy. There is more good information on his site.
- Ask yourself, “If my best friend were in my situation would I think she should be ashamed?”
I certainly have times in my past that I am ashamed of. Once in a while they will come to mind and I have to choose what to do with those thoughts. Today they are simply that – thoughts. I can dwell on them. I can relive them. Ultimately I must accept that I can’t change the past. I can learn from it. You can know that you are good enough.
“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” – Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
I hold a degree from Lamar University in Speech and a Master’s from the University of Texas. I was an educator in regular and special education for twenty years, finishing my professional career as a Braille teacher. I am a Certified Professional Coach with Fowler International Academy. I married Sam after raising three children as a single mother. In 2007 I founded SMORE for Women. SMORE is a nonprofit association whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, & Empowered. My stories have been published in several Christian books and magazines. My book, Living Learning Loving, published in July 2015, is available for purchase on CreateSpace, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble online