On Shame

2018-08-20T12:44:55+00:00August 20th, 2018|Tags: , , |

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” @brenebrown

Many of us learn from a young age that our stories are too much – that we’re too sensitive, or too dramatic, or too emotional, or too human. We learn that our stories should be hidden and buried and kept to ourselves – that they aren’t safe to be held by anyone else. We share the positive parts, the highlights, the beautiful vacation photos and transformations and epic weekends and accomplishments and joy… but the pain, hardship, fear, grief, shame, guilt, sadness, worry, anger, loneliness, anxiety, self-doubt, and all other tough parts of being human get shoved down and swallowed, leading us to carry our tougher parts all by ourselves and wonder how everyone else has it all figured out. “What’s wrong with me?”

Shame thrives off of secrecy. It grows and flourishes when we keep it hidden in the dark. It easily sneaks its way into our day-to-day lives when we ignore it. When we feel ashamed of our shame, it amplifies and gets heavier.

The hard and beautiful truth is this: when we share the parts of ourselves we label as “bad” or “wrong” with people who are willing to listen and respond empathically, shame gets smaller. Our feelings of being “bad” get weaker. When we tell our truth to another human, connection is what grows. We let our shame out of isolation and give it some air, which makes it less powerful and allows us to recognize we aren’t actually alone in all the tough parts of being human – that others are there too, hiding and burying it right beside us.

I want to remind you that your story is worth sharing. Your truth is worth being told. Your tougher experiences and feelings matter, and while it may feel easier to hide them, and it may feel scary to share them, the relief that can come from it is astonishing. Be it with a trusted family member, a friend, a therapist, a mentor, a teacher, or anyone in your life that you feel connected to, your harder parts are not yours to carry alone, and they don’t make you any less than – they make you human.