I had quite a bout of shame last night. It literally overwhelmed me, and I curled up on the sofa, mumbling and scaring my two cats. I had made a decision earlier in the day and within thirty minutes I was certain it was the wrong decision, and before I knew it was was wandering in “The Gray Swamp of What Will People Think.”
I was certain people were judging me, but it was more than that. I was giving their judgments tremendous power.
How many of us judge ourselves by what we THINK others are thinking? And then, how many of us choose to believe the harshest of those judgments?
Soon we begin to make decisions on what we think others are thinking – about how we look, what we say, what we do. Judgments that bombard us and can cover everything from the assessment that we are destroying our lives, to condemnation for not polishing our toenails. Who made up these rules anyway?!
It’s exhausting. Instead of checking in with ourselves, we’ve been checking in with everyone else and have become disconnected from who we really are. On top of that, no one is really paying that much attention us anyway!
A woman in one of our first workshops told me she felt terrible shame about getting divorced. When someone asked her why, she thought for a moment and then got a look in her eyes as if a light bulb went on over her head. “I feel shame,” she said, “because I had always judged other women who were divorcing.”
Shame can definitely remind us to not to judge others. It can also reminds us to be more compassionate with with others….and with ourselves. We do not know the stories each person carries with them, and sometimes we forget to honor our own stories.
Brene Brown suggests that the best antidote for shame is empathy..and the words,”I Am Enough.”