Dear Positive Habit People,
I have a confession to make! When I was seven years old I stole two fancy erasers from a friend of my parents. I then carried the shame and guilt of this around for months until one day my Dad asked me what was bothering me and I confessed my ‘terrible’ crime with the drama of someone who has committed murder. I have never forgotten the relief I felt when he told me that it was okay, that many children steal small things and that I was not a ‘bad person’ because of it.
Shame, is something that we all experience on one level or another at some point in our lives. The sooner we get a handle on it the better because shame is toxic, erodes self-esteem and keeps us blocked and locked in a spiral of negativity.
Most of the actions about which we feel shame are not deserving of such a strong, negative emotion. Now, while I do believe in having healthy remorse for when we behave without compassion, many of us carry around shameful feelings unnecessarily for things that we have no need to feel shame over: the way a mother, father or child has behaved; if we don’t know the answer to a question; if we forget someone’s birthday; for not being a ‘perfect’ parent or not having a ‘perfect’ house. We can also feel shame for our social status, for not having children, for being single, for not being able to afford something and the list goes on and on.
This week I’ve been reading the bestselling book, ‘Daring Greatly’, by Brene Brown, a researcher and writer famous for her work on vulnerability and shame. The book highlights how shame isolates us from others and prevents us form making authentic connections. Brown believes that the only way to deal with shame is to name it, to take it out of the dark and into the light and writes,
“If we share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
The very act of naming and speaking about shame kills it softly.
To return to my rubber-robbing incident, let’s make it clear that am not condoning stealing in any shape or form; if we do something wrong we should suffer the consequences. However, it must be recognised that we are human and make mistakes. In the words of my father, “the important thing is that we learn from them,” which I agree is such a ‘parent’ thing to say and I now find myself echoing those very same words to my son!.
Reflect on your own life and see if you can recall a similar experience when you really felt shame. Did you open up to someone and if so did the shame pass?
The healing process of putting gratuitous shame where it belongs allows you to move with grace and goodness through your life.
Have a lovely week and remember to open your heart and mind to anyone you think may be experiencing shame. You can be the person who offers the empathy and love they need.
Please watch my latest video: “The Positive Habit, Stress-Free, Anxiety-Free, Week Eleven, “Self-Love is Selfless”
* Thanks for all the great feedback on the buzzing bee technique video last week and just to clarify, you need to put your thumbs into your ears as the idea is to block out any external noise.
I’m happy to report that these videos are really helping people so please do share with anyone you feel may benefit from some extra love and care.
I’ll be discussing social media anxiety on my regular, ‘Mind Yourself Now’ slot on The Dermot & Dave show (Today FM) this morning (Monday, 16th April) at 10.15.am so please tune in. If you miss it don’t worry – I’ll podcast it here next week.
The Positive Habit – Anxiety-Free, Stress-Free – Week 11
“Self-Love is Selfless.”
A big thanks to Professor Patrick Flood for inviting me to speak to his HR Masters students.
“Fiona Brennan is an outstanding speaker on the topic of positive well being as well as an acclaimed clinical hypnotherapist. She presented to a large group of HR managers at DCU (11th April, 2018) on the MSc in HR Strategy with great skill, humour and insight. I strongly recommend her for speaking and teaching engagements- if you need inspiration and empathy – Fiona will provide it!”
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