Shame, Shame, Shame

Brene Brown and Jen Lemen are leading a really fascinating online workshop called, which I’m taking right now.  In it we’re exploring the concepts of empathy and shame.  Shame especially is a tough one for me.  How often do we, women in particular, miss living our lives to the fullest possible limits because shame keeps us trapped?  I think shame is one of the most detrimental emotional forces in our lives today.

One of the reasons I love this course and Brene’s Book I Thought It Was Just Me is that they talk all about building up shame resilience. This is something I’ve so needed in my life. I think about how often I keep quiet in a big important work meeting because “how could I have anything relevant to contribute to this meeting” or “who do I think I am?” But why is my voice any less important than anyone elses?  Why do I think my thoughts are any less valuable than someone elses? Or other times when I’ve held back telling people I’ve just met that my real passion in life is writing, and that I dream of writing full time for myself.  I cringe to think what they’d think of me if I shared that.

Take any of these examples (I could write a post about each of these on their own, which I think I’ll do):

Beauty – The size of the global beauty industry is upwards of $300 BILLION dollars, crazy.  Think about it, the beauty industry makes billions and billions by making women feel poorly about themselves.  You have wrinkles?! You have hair on your arms, crazy?! By making women feel shameful about their appearance, they lure them into buying their products.  It makes me crazy watching commercials on TV where they have 18-year-old women in the ads for “age minimizing serum.”

Food and Body Image – How many women do you know that “bond” over complaining about body parts, or what they eat.  Food is a wonderful part of life, it nourishes and sustain us, but there’s this prevalent message that women are not allowed to partake. Women must deprive themselves to be physically attractive.  We’re also inundated in the media with an onslaught of images of one perfect body type that’s rarely ever occurs naturally – itty bit wait, big boobs, round bottom.  I love going to the museums to look at old works of art that showcase women’s voluptuous and health, normal bodies.  I’m incensed that this impossible standard is held up as something any woman should be able to easily achieve with enough “discipline” (ack, yuck).

Career – Women are supposed to charge ahead and be like men at work to really succeed.  Women lose both ways, if they’re great at their career then “oh horrors” their family must be a disaster if they even have one.  Then from the family side they’re forced to be it all, and stay home and raise the kids themselves, without being overbearing, indulgent so on and so forth.  It’s all very confusing.

Well this turned into much more of  a rant than I intended.  Bottom line: shame is one of the biggest barriers to living with an open heart.  There’s a fear that if someone else sees all my biggest wishes, hopes, desires they will make me feel small, they will tell me I’m silly or stupid. If they see my wrinkles, or my thighs, or know that I cry in the morning before I leave for work and have to say good-bye to my kids, I’ll feel ashamed.  It create so much fear in letting other people see the real pieces of you.  I need to get out my shame blasters this week and challenge myself to be the real me.  It’s funny when I take that risk and I show people the person I am they tend to like me more and want to know more.

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