I wish someone would have told me when I was a child that no one could shame me. I wish someone would have told me the reality that some might even try to control me in some way but that I would have a choice whether to believe their way of thinking or not. I remember vividly working in a restaurant when I was 16 years old and having a boss tell me what an idiot I was for making some minor mistake in front of all of my co-workers including a cute co-worker I wanted to date. I felt shame, humiliation, embarrassment. I remember I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide for the rest of my shift and never to return to my job. That memory stuck with me for so long because of the unprocessed shame. There are countless examples like this. Too many to share. And I’m sure many of you can relate.
Shame is that all consuming feeling you experience when you feel you do not deserve to feel good about yourself. It’s the feeling you have when you think you are flawed, damaged, or broken in some way. In this case I believed my boss. I believed that I was an idiot for not closing the ice tea maker correctly and hence the ice tea wasn’t at Ponderosa Steakhouse’s proper requirement, and that belief led to tremendous shame. What I know now is that my minor mistake did not mean anything about me personally, no matter what someone else may think. Remember, we are all 100% worthy and loveable, NO MATTER WHAT. What we do, or don’t do, doesn’t change this.
In addition, when someone else attempts to shame another person, this tells us so much more about them then it does say about us. The one doing the shaming is the one who is out of alignment as they are having a desire to put someone down to inflate themselves. This has nothing to do with us. Someone who is solid, confident, grounded, does not find ways to put other people down, or try to control others in any way. When someone attempts to shame you, remember that they are mistaken. You are amazing just because you were born into this world, 100% complete, and nothing can change that.
We are human and we will all make mistakes at work. This has nothing to do with our worthiness. Same goes in any relationship as your significant other may have thoughts about your appearance, behavior, choices. Again, that has everything to do with what is going on in their minds, not about you.
When someone attempts to shame you, or control you, remind yourself that you are not your behavior. Know that it is always okay to walk away and give yourself some space and time to regroup. Remember, that you don’t have to believe what other people might think about you, even if they are your professor, your boss, your boyfriend or girlfriend. How can they know better than you, what you are about? And most importantly, it only hurts if you believe it to be true. What YOU think is most important and it is always a choice. I see no upside in believing in anything else other than our own awesomeness.
So let me repeat myself in case you didn’t learn this powerful lesson earlier. No one can shame you because no one can control how you think about yourself. Shame is a feeling based on our own thinking. Shame loves to be hidden, which is why I wanted to crawl into a hole and die in the example above. When you feel this way, let it process through and remind yourself that you are whole and amazing. Share your struggles with a friend, or a coach like myself to help it crumble.
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Go be awesome my friends.