As women, shame comes in our starter kit. The perception that we, as authentically born, are not “good enough”. Our worthiness is like a sieve; we hold those moments of pride fleetingly. We smile and nod with seeming to agree acknowledgments.
We feel disconnected to the applause, accolades, and requests for attention. Our moment in the sun fades like twilight, leaving us bewildered and returning to our former position…conflicted and fearful, listening for the other shoe to drop.
That wave of self-consciousness that sweeps over us when the shame trigger gets pulled.
Is this your marriage?
Do you have moments of “thinking” you are close with your partner, only to have them fade away and you return to that gnawing, subtle, fleeting feeling of disconnection and insecurity?
Without question, shame is the quintessential emotion.
I learned this in 2007 when I started to dig myself out of financial denial. In reading about letting go, healing, trust, repressed anger, I felt, finally, someone put language to feelings I had but could never accurately define. I could connect my feelings of a lack of worthiness to not paying enough attention my finances.
I was finally able to differentiate between guilt and shame.
I always ask clients to tell me where shame appears in their lives. Often their first reply is “I don’t have any…” It’s only after defining it and showing how their current day behaviors could be linked to experiences as a very young child, do the stories start to reveal themselves.
What I learned was: shame, isolation, and fear are the trifectas in our lives. They always travel as a pack.
Fear keeps us isolated so no one will see our shame.
In that isolation, our demons come out to play. We “run the film” of what might happen, feeding the shame monster, keeping us small and away from who we really are, keeping us away from our partner.
The shame we feel and that often gets played out in our finances, body images, lack of boundaries, staying in toxic relationships. It can be fixed. We cannot go back and undo the damage that was fostered on us as a five-year-old but we can remove it as we move forward.
The answer to how to remove shame is two-fold. 1) Build self-awareness so you can identify it as it happens and 2) Reach out to someone you trust and share it. This is a wonderful opportunity to build closeness with your partner. Painful and scary as it will feel, the sense of liberation and being released from “prison” will make it worth the risk.
Ask yourself these five questions:
Do you have difficulty accepting compliments? Do you believe you are lovable? When things go awry, do you criticize yourself? Do you feel responsible for others actions? Do you worry about the future?
Remember, we ALL have feelings of shame whether we acknowledge it or not.
"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"