It really is one of the worst feelings isn’t it? On the Rising Vibrational Scale it’s right the way down at the bottom. Shame comes from the most negative, destructive thoughts and drives the same feelings. If left unchecked, shame can have a devastating impact.
Shame shows up everywhere and we need to start talking about it in the same way that we talk about fear. Fear does get in the way of progress but it’s tied up in shame. The fear of failure is actually in the shame of failing. The fear of judgement is in the shame of being judged. The fear of rejection is in the shame of being rejected.
So, throughout the whole of July, we’re calling out our shame. We want you to break the shame shackles so that you can start to be shame-free and shameless!
Here at Rising Vibe, we help people feel better to do better. We work in the corporate world, challenging mind-set. The way we access mind-set is through emotion. Feelings and emotions aren’t often talked about in the work place and we’re passionate about changing that. We all have feelings and emotions whether we like it or not and these feelings and emotions affect our performance, no matter how hard we try to hide them.
So why the shame campaign? Shame is one of the most painful feelings. To highlight this, let’s look at guilt. The definition of guilt is the feeling that we’ve DONE something wrong. The guilt is in the deed or the doing. With shame, it is the feeling that we ARE wrong. The shame is in the being. We feel shame at an identity level. It becomes part of us. We believe we ARE bad, wrong or a failure.
Men especially can get stuck here. Although shame affects a lot of woman, men tend to find it more difficult to talk about their feelings and emotions. But unless we’re honest about how we feel, we won’t get the right support and things will get a lot worse. Shame can lead to depression and despair and we’ve already established that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. Who knows how many of these suicides had their origins in feelings of shame?
For a long time I suffered with anxiety. It’s under control now, but the shame of admitting it was so great, I just didn’t. So I started getting night time panic attacks. On the outside I seemed confident and together, but this wasn’t the case at all. It wasn’t until I started to really own my anxiety, that the feeling of shame around it started to ease. My anxiety is still uncomfortable to talk about, but I don’t feel ashamed of it anymore. It’s part of who I am. It’s part of the reason why this brand exists. I’ve been there. I’ve felt those low vibes. Those destructive emotions. And I realised that without owning and acknowledging them, I couldn’t move forwards.
Give me stress over shame any day! It’s much more socially acceptable. We can talk about how much stress we’re under at work until the cows come home. Some of us wear our stress as a badge of honour. It’s not so easy to tell people we feel ashamed, anxious and desperate. But if we only talk about stress, we’ll only get support at a stress level. We won’t get the support we really need on an anxiety, fear or shame level. So we won’t move forwards. We won’t feel better. And we certainly won’t do better.
Shame unites us all. We all feel it, have felt it and will continue to feel it again in the future. But like a vampire it thrives in the darkness. It thrives in secret. But bring it into the light and it turns to ash.
So I started with my family, friends and clients. I asked them to share their own shame stories. Some of these situations you may feel are just a little embarrassing, some are much more intense. But the common theme here is, they all made someone feel real shame, even if just in the moment.
- Being caught picking your nose.
- Farting in public.
- Skirt tucked into your pants.
- Toilet roll stuck on your shoe.
- Being made redundant – especially if it isn’t wanted or wasn’t expected. Just the word redundant is unhelpful. You are redundant = you have no purpose.
- A low performance rating and you don’t know why – thinking you’re doing a great job and then being told you aren’t.
- Getting negative feedback that feels critical.
- Feeling afraid, weak or unable to cope.
- Being unable to have a conversation that feels difficult.
- Failing exams or a job interview.
- Someone else getting the job you wanted. The shame of comparison, that someone is ‘better’ than you.
- Being called a ‘show off’. Many of us heard this from our parents when we were kids. It is so unhelpful. It can actually stop us celebrating our successes and showing a pride in what we’ve achieved in later life.
- Rejection of an idea – shame really gets in the way of innovation/creativity. You’re too scared to suggest an idea as it could be rejected as crap or stupid.
- Making a mistake/getting it wrong/not understanding something.
- Asking for help.
- Lack of money.
- Too much money.
- Body shaming – too fat, too thin, too flabby, too muscly.
- Getting older and the pressures of looking young.
- Getting old and/or ill and having to depend on others.
- Rejection from a partner/friend/family member/work colleague.
- Marriage failure/divorce.
- Sharing feelings that aren’t reciprocated – telling someone ‘I love’ you and not getting it back.
- Offending someone and not meaning to.
- Being different – colour/culture/religion/sexuality.
- The walk of shame.
- The shame hangover after drinking too much – what did I say/do? Did I make a fool of myself? (Look out for our shame hangover blog coming soon).
I’d put my life on it that at least five of these stories sound familiar. You’re not alone in your shame. The chances are, a lot of your family, friends and work colleagues have experienced a similar sense of shame. And by calling it out, you just might find support from someone who has been there already, understands and wants to help.
So let’s call out our shame! Let’s talk about it. Let’s own it. Let’s be free of the shame shackles!
I’d like to leave you with a brilliant piece by Tara Hedman a psychotherapist and writer from Colorado Springs. It really resonated with me and I think it articulates perfectly the difference between guilt and shame.
Instead of believing something bad happened to me,
I believed I was bad.
Instead of believing they didn’t know how to love me,
I believed I was unlovable.
Instead of believing they made hurtful choices,
I believed something about me caused them to hurt me.
Instead of believing they needed help,
I believed I wasn’t deserving of help.
Instead of believing they had dark secrets,
I believe my heart had to be a secret.
Instead of believing they were taking out their pain on me,
I believed I was the source of their pain.
Instead of believing they didn’t know how to protect me,
I believed I was not worth protecting.
– Tara Hedman
Get involved. We’d love to hear your shame stories. Please like, share and comment with the hashtag #RVShameCampaign.