When you struggle with shame — and we all do — you can:
- Try to outrun it. However, it is always there. Wherever you are, there it is, inside of you.
- Sell yourself out in order to please others in your life. While we think we can fit in and someday finally (finally!) belong, the person we believe we have to be in order to fit in and please others is not who we are. This only further reinforces the message to ourselves that “indeed there is something wrong with me, and of course I am not worthy of love + belonging.”
- Come out swinging. You can fight with others to try and prove your worthiness. And how will that really turn out for you?
Instead of these three ways of reacting to shame, I’ve found that it takes courage to live this thing called LIFE.
One of my clients is a leader and is very well known in her world. To those on the outside, it looks like she has it all. Great work, financial freedom, marriage, kids, and friends. Her life is FULL. However, what people don’t know is how incredibly lonely she is, or the pain she lives with inside her own home.
She struggles raising her kids. There is pain in her marriage. The message she receives at home? It’s ALL her fault.
We have been doing deep work together. Because the thing is “things being all her fault” is not new. This is the story of her life.
She believed that, once she built a great career, it would take away the shaming beliefs of being bad, broken, and the problem.
She believed that, once she found the right man — who in his own right is highly successful and beloved — that relationship would take away her shameful pain, as he would validate her worthiness.
She believed that, once she had financial freedom, she would prove to the world (never anyone specific) that she was indeed good enough. Like money is some sort of validator of humans.
When her kids were young, she believed that their relationship would be different than her own relationship with her family of origin. Then she hit the teenage and adult years. Lots of hate sent her way by her children.
The people in her life that mattered the most to her were her kids and her husband. This also happened to be the hidden area of tremendous pain in her life.
It takes courage to stop and check-in. When others are blaming and hating her…what is really true and what is not true?
It takes courage to own the painful truths of how she contributes to the pain in her family.
It takes courage to know her truth, both her strengths and flaws and LOVE herself in a home where daily things are flung at her.
It takes courage to be “alone” in a home that has so much pain. Knowing what she contributed to, knowing what is not her contribution and despite it all, LOVING herself tremendously as she sits by herself.
She is sitting in whitespace, instead of filling it up with busy-ness. She is working on her relationship with herself. She is practicing talking to herself with compassion and love.
She is being courageous enough to LOVE herself, even when her life is not what it seems and quite messy right now.
She is being courageous to stay with her family, when her gut instinct is to run away.
She is not attaching to the voice in the back of her head that is screaming, “you’re a fraud. If people only knew.” She now knows that voice will not help her move forward, cultivate loving and connected relationships with her kids, husband, and herself.
Instead, she is choosing to be courageous and LOVE herself.
Instead of having outside things: career, money, relationships determine her value and worthiness … she realizes it is time for her to be the HERO of her own story.
From this place she can then cultivate love and connection with her family, the most important people on this planet to her. However, until she has the love inside of herself, she does not have the love to give to them.
One can’t give what one doesn’t have.
It takes courage to live this thing called LIFE. There are no guarantees and it’s not easy. But man oh man … it is so worth it.