The Matter of Shame

Shame is such a damaging emotion and so very sneaky. Many people fail to recognize it for what it is, unless they’re super in touch with  their emotional lives. Shame comes slithering in unannounced and uninvited and will settle in for the long-haul, if permission is granted. Permission is almost always granted, unknowingly so.


I had a run-in with shame recently myself. I’ve dealt with a lot of old issues so you would think I would immediately recognize what was going on and nip it in the bud. Right?


Did I mention how sneaky shame can be?

I have a good friend. We’ve learned to do the dance of give and take, listening and talking and allowing each other to be where we are, but most importantly, we can tell each other what is bugging us about our friendship, usually in a somewhat healthy and functional way.

But sometimes we miss.

That happened just the other day.

We were exchanging emails and texts (at my request) concerning an issue that had arose a few months ago.

I received an email from her that left me feeling bad…really bad.

Bad isn’t a feeling, so I knew I had to do a little digging to see what was going on.

It was shame. Go figure.

Shame isn’t about what we do…the things we say that are inappropriate, the bending of the truth or whatever else that goes against our core values and beliefs.  That emotion is guilt. Guilt is about the things we do.

Shame is about who we are or who we think we are. Shame whispers we are less than, unworthy, and not good enough…NEVER good enough.

Shame leaves us with the feeling of being so alone that we isolate, which becomes a vicious cycle. We hide from others, but more importantly, we hide from ourselves, denying the feelings which produce more shame, hoping in vain that the feelings of shame will just go away.

The only way to rid ourselves of shame is to admit to ourselves and another person the exact nature of what we are feeling. It’s the beginning of freedom, where joy and peace reside.

Brene Brown (on of my fav people. Click to read more.)  sums it up perfectly. She says: “Not only do we need to own our story and love ourselves in the process, we have to figure out the real story. ”


And I would add this: our stories are comprised of tiny clips, here and there, good and the not so good. It’s not a one time thing. We need to continue to own our stories and continue to love ourselves along the way.

Because the matter of shame, matters.

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