Have you ever tried to make a big change in your life (maybe repeatedly), only to find that for some reason, it just won’t take? It might be a problem with the method. It might be that your goal needs revisiting. But often, it’s because you’re struggling with shame.
If you’ve never thought about the role shame might be playing in blocking your potential, read on. Today I’m going to share exactly how to move past shame – so you can activate your potential even more effectively.
Sound crazy? Consider…
In the path to become more of our authentic selves, we necessarily have to become vulnerable.
Just think about it: when you declare that you’re going to make change, the next thing that comes into your head is almost always “But what are people going to think of me?”
What will they think if I…
Invite my team to start talking more about our feelings at work?
Tell the family I want us to start eating less meat?
Share my real desires with my partner?
Ask my mum to respect my boundaries around discipline for the kids?
Whenever we move closer to who we are with others in our lives, we become exposed at a deeper level.
Which is how you grow into your most authentic self… but which also leaves you open to criticism and shame in the process. So rest assured, this is perfectly normal.
Stepping into vulnerability and working through shame go hand in hand.
Shame = control
When you see it that way, it’s no wonder that so many of us have such an intense “allergy” to vulnerability. As Brene Brown talks about in her great TED talk on vulnerability, we’ll do anything we can to avoid feeling vulnerable, usually by numbing out, whether that’s with alcohol, drugs, overwork, too much sex, or anything else.
See, shame is a powerful mechanism for control. When we shame someone, it’s an attempt to control behaviour in another person that makes us feel uncomfortable. Whether that’s your toddler son playing with his penis in the bath or your dad being rude to waiters.
And so many of us are deeply, deeply shamed as children.
Although you may not consciously remember it now, chances are that you experienced an incident that was shaming as a child. And because of the way our bodies, minds, and souls experience shame, that incident can still have a huge impact on your behaviour as an adult!
So what’s the antidote?
If we’re going to stand up as women leaders, we have to be able to handle shame and vulnerability, knowing that they are an inevitable side effect of your vision and growth. Easier said than done, I know. But there are processes you can use to help yourself do this, all of which are grounded in self love.
How to move past shame
#1 The first step is simply awareness.
If you can become aware of the shame that you’re carrying around from the past, you can let it go, which can have huge ramifications for your life.
The way I normally do this with people is by using a Limitation Release meditation, where you can really go back to the original incident (which is often nothing that you could have expected!). If you’re part of our Living the Change community you’ll find this in your member’s area. If not, try journalling about your past experiences, exploring as much detail as feels comfortable for you.
#2 Recognise there’s nothing you can do to control the criticism you receive.
What you can do is learn how to comfort yourself and develop a level of resilience that keeps you from getting knocked down by every little bit of criticism.
The way you do this? Keeping up a good regimen of self love, which often looks like doing morning writing, doing at least an hour of soft play each week, incorporating spontaneous moments of luxury into your life, and doing your thinking and thanking every day.
#3 Separate helpful feedback from just plain meanness.
Whenever you’re declaring something to someone else, you need to recognise that you’re about to become vulnerable.
Which means that you’re probably going to have some shame coming up. Don’t let it stop you from opening up, just be aware of what may happen.
If you do get criticism back, then use the following steps to move past shame:
- Be prepared to hear it all the way through. Don’t get triggered, don’t even think of responding yet, just listen, and then go away so you can have some processing time.
- During your processing time, take out your journal and ask yourself two questions: what’s triggering you, and what could possibly be helpful in that criticism?
- And since you may be feeling a little raw by now, make sure that you lean very heavily on your self love practices. Draw yourself a lovely long bath with loads of essential oils, take a walk, give yourself a nice hand massage, read over some old testimonials from clients, etc.
- Then and only then, come back to the criticism and ask yourself whether it reminds you of anything in the past. Can you see a connection to another shaming incident? Maybe something that came up in your limitation release?
- Write a letter to the person who gave you the criticism in the voice of your younger self. Really let them have it, don’t hold back! This allows your younger self to be heard in a safe way, and you can then burn or trash the letter.
- Finally, to round it off, go back and finish the conversation with the person, or, if your shaming incident came from something like a blog comment or social media, just go out there and put out another post. Show the world again that you’re committed to this change and this dream, even though it means you have to be vulnerable, because you know that’s how you can get to the greatest parts of life.
So! Here’s a challenge for you – can you activate this process to move past shame in YOUR life this week?
Identify an area where shame comes up for you – either through journalling or a Limitation Release process.
Recommit to your self love habits (don’t skip this!)
And try the final exercise of separating helpful criticism from meanness with at least one thing in the next week.
Know that I’m cheering you on all the way!
Want some help to move past shame?
Every Tuesday we host a live “Lunch and Learn” session on the One of many Facebook page. Click here to join me live at 1pm UK time, and bring your questions!
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