Learning About Shame.
Monday morning October 15, 2012; started off very similar to every other morning. Little did I know, that a flood gate of emotion was about to break.
The world has since looked different.
That morning, as my eyes opened, I said to myself;
“Good Morning Sir! What a Lovely Day to be Alive.”
I rolled out of bed, turned on my computer and went into the kitchen to boil water for my Mr. Coffee French Press.
Mr. Coffee and I returned to my desk; checked our emails, read newsletters, and took notes.
At that time, Monday’s were TedTalk days.
I found a morning full of TedTalks useful to having a good to start to my week.
On October 15, 2012, a TedTalk rocked my world.
I don’t know how you do it, but for me, if I’m not careful YouTube becomes my crack.
I can’t count the times I started looking for information and wound up watching videos with singing dogs or something and think; “How the hell did I get here?“
Some days, you go from video to video and soak in the knowledge that feeds your soul and opens your mind.
October 15, 2012 turned out to be the later.
Dr. Brene Brown, a research Professor at the University of Huston was the 3rd and final TedTalk of that day.
During Minute 12, the cheerleader in me felt pretty darned good.
Dr. Brown describes calls TedTalks the “Failing Conference.”
She reasoned that almost everyone that proceeded her shared a story how they had a vision, saw a need and took action. The actions usually resulted in a failure. But, unlike most stories of failure, each presenter shared how they regrouped time and time again until the original intent of their vision was achieved.
I thought to myself;
“YEAH! You’re really good at failing! Nice Job Tim!”
Then, Dr Brown shared “The Man in the Arena” quote from Theodore Roosevelt”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
My excitement grew. I thought;
“Dude, that shit is sooo you! Keep going man. Find a better way today.”
I thought about the launch of my first book.
It was rushed and horribly edited. There are over 700 copies sitting in a room in Buffalo, Ohio at this very moment.
As I daydreamed about how good I am at failing and moving forward, Dr. Brown gave me a gut check.
During minute 13 Dr. Brown describes how when you walk up to “the arena door” and put your hand out to enter a little voice starts playing one of 2 scripts in your head. She called that little voice “The Gremlin.”
The “Gremlin’s” 2 Scripts
1. Never Good Enough
2. Who do you think you are?
As these words made their way through my headphones my heart sank.
I felt my whole being cave in on itself. My Gremlin spoke and I heard
NOW THAT’S YOU!!
You SUCK! You’ll never amount to SHIT!
You can’t do this.
You’re going to always be alone.
NO ONE LOVES YOU!”
A Pit of Shame opened up inside of me.
I watched, listened and cried as Dr. Brown finished her talk.
Then, I just sat here and cried some more.
The shame spoke to me a script that hasn’t been heard or felt in such a long time.
As I look back on the journey since 2009 I can pinpoint over 30 moments that my behavior was a direct result of the “I’m ashamed to exist” script in my brain.
Before I continue with this post, let me be very clear I am not ashamed of the man I am today, nor am I ashamed of the moments that got me to this point. But, none-the-less, shame spoke to me on Monday Morning October 15, 2012 and several times thereafter.
I realized at that time I needed to address it, clear it and move on.
Thankfully I have the tools that allow me to sit in the shame and learn what needs to be learned and get back to the loving self that I am.
Fast forward to 2018 (March 1- April 17); the last days of my father’s life. I got a front row seat to shame and how it manifests into my life in sneaky ways. More about that later.
Back in October 2012, after sitting in my own shame for an hour, I practiced a meditation to center myself.
In that mediation I sat with that part of me that feels ashamed, and brought that part of me gently back into love.
At that moment, and for weeks that followed, I did my best to hold that sacred space of love.
If You’ve Recognized Yourself in this article then Great News!
You’re not alone.
Four Steps to Clearing Shame
1. Identify the problem.
In this case; Shame
Do you feel it?
Here are some questions to help you check yourself.
Are you demeaning when you label yourself?
Are you a perfectionist?
Do you have a need to be needed?
Are you tolerating some form of abuse?
Are you addicted to approval and validation?
Do you easily project your anger?
2. Honor the Feeling.
In the TedTalk Dr. Brown suggests that Shame is like the swamp of our souls.
You’ll want to go in and wade around a little, but please don’t set up your home there.
Just feel the feeling. Let it rise. Cry it out.
3. Take an inventory of your daily activities.
Are any of your activities just sly methods of avoiding your own shame?
I found a few.
Hi, I’m Tim I’m a Facebook Addict.
I love social media in general, but recently I realized that I’m wasting way too much time scrolling through feeds searching for cool stuff to read, consume and share. So, I blocked myself from Facebook this week.
I actually had a little withdrawal. I felt like checking in a few times.
But, as I fought the urge I kept asking myself.
“Why is this important to do right now?”
I feel so invisible some days.
My being craves connection, instant gratification, to be seen and validated.
For some reason my brain got confused to believe that those feelings came from interactions with the world.
Take a moment to label the feelings you derive from the activities you do each day.
4. Connect with those feelings in yourself.
If you are feeling a sense of shame, start by knowing that I feel it too. A lot of people do. Be comfortable with that.
Now — USE it! Own it. Grow from it.
Spend some time to connect with YOU.
Here are some suggestions to help you.
Sit Still for 3o minutes.
You don’t have anywhere to be. You’ve already arrived.
Eat a balanced and nutritious diet.
Nutrient deficiencies have emotional impacts on you. Please be mindful of what you put into your body. Make eating an act of love more often than not.
Support a friend or a stranger.
Since that day, I made it my mission to create the internal space that allows me to go out in the world today show up as ME; the me that I decided to become, not the one everyone told me I am.
And I’ve been helping other people do the same in their lives.
Remember: We are all in this together.
You’re not alone.
Other people sometimes feel ashamed to be themselves too.
Think about that the next time you see someone acting like a complete idiot.
They may be masking their shame the best way they know. Noticing this may help you find a new reason for compassion.
If you know anyone who could benefit from reading this please share it.
If you’re brave enough to share your thoughts we have a private Facebook Group you can join.
Dr. Brene Brown’s talk that broke me wide open.
When I learned to deal with my own shame, things began to shift.
As I rewrite and publish this blog post (8/8/2018) I am a married man who is living a version of his dream life that in 2012 looked unreachable.
And as I look back over the journey from that day to now, I can easily pinpoint where the little Gremlin snuck his way back into my inner script time and time again, and I know the day it stopped affecting me.
I might be able to show you how to get out of the swamp of shame and create your own version of “Happily Ever After.”
This post serves as a reminder for me to do the things I need to do, in order to be the man I want to be.
Here is the video that broke me wide open.
At the end of Brene’s Talk, she mentioned a guy who called her out on not helping men with shame.
Well, I used to struggle with shame and creating connections. I used to allow shame to make my decisions for me, and it was a vicious cycle of “strive, hustle grind, get success, and blow it the hell up.”
Six months after watching this video in 2012, I decided to get very serious about changing my relationship patterns. A few months after that decision, I met Annette and we are creating our own version of Happily Ever After.
I’ve learned how to help others do the same in different areas of their lives.
If you want to learn more about shame and how it affects life, Join Soul Surfer School’s Private Facebook Group by Clicking Here Now.