Life. The existence of a human being. The mundane, everyday routine of surviving each day. The process of living. The sum total of our days.
Each one of us have a life to live. We don’t know how long we have, or what will happen to us between now and the minute we draw our last breath. We have limited control over these things. What we do have control over is how we choose to live out those moments, those days, weeks and years. We can crawl our way through each day, just surviving, or we can take a hold of our life and really live! We can endure through a haze of disappointment, anger and frustration, or we can live with joy. We can choose to live a life of negativity and complaints, or choose to live a life joyfully.
How in the world do you do that?
What prevents us from living a life of joy?
What is the barrier? What holds us back?
According to Brené Brown in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, it is shame.
What? Shame? I don’t feel shame! (That was my response!) But read on. According to Brown, shame is ….
… the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love or belonging.
Shame is basically the fear of being unworthy. We all want to feel worthy and loved, but when we feel shame we feel disconnected.
So what do we do about it? We need to develop shame resilience. And the first step in doing that is recognizing when we feel shame.
Here is a little story of my own: My first book, Bound by a Dragon, was published recently. Putting your work ‘out there’, in the public eye, makes you feel very vulnerable. Suddenly, everyone can see what you have been holding close to your heart for months, and are free to pass comment, praise, criticism or stomp your work into the mud. I have received a lot of great comments about my book, and five-star reviews from both friends and strangers, but at the same time have received a few very negative reviews. Of course, this is par for the course. Every author gets their share of negative reviews, and even the most famous authors have their fair share of detractors. What I wasn’t prepared for was how the less than glowing reviews made me question myself. Who do I think I am, trying to be an author? Expecting people to pay for my work? I felt unworthy. Shame. (Just seeing the word makes me feel uncomfortable!)
Although my personal circumstances may be unique, my experience is not! We have all had moments such as these when someone else’s comments have made us question ourselves. Made us feel unworthy. (And sometimes the comments come from ourselves!) We react in different ways: sometimes we withdraw and try to hide; sometimes we try to appease the person who made us feel this way; and sometimes we come out fighting. But the cause is still the same. We feel unworthy.
So how do we overcome shame? Over the next few weeks I will be taking a journey on how to do that. We could do this together. Or not! But maybe we can learn something together and come out on the other side more resilient than before!