“Shame is an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” — Brené Brown
We’re following up on last week’s topic “Why asking for help is so hard” and diving deeper into shame. At work, at home, or in everyday life, you might be experiencing shame that is holding you back from being vulnerable with those closest to you. In this episode, Heather and Jamie talk about overcoming shame and absorbing someone’s pain. Check it out!
We love Brené Brown’s definition of shame, “an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
How does shame relate to asking for help? Well, if you believe that you are unworthy of love because of your flaws, you’re going to desperately try to cover up all of your flaws. When you’re experiencing something difficult with your spouse, at work, or with your kids, you’re going to do everything but be honest about it.
Friendship, marriage, family, etc., is messy. Honestly, life, in general, is messy and you are flawed. The issue with shame is that it lies to you and tells you that your natural, to be expected, flaws make you unworthy of love. So naturally, when you experience the regular mess of life your first reaction is to hide.
Does this sound like you? A problem arises at work with a project you’ve been working on. You start to feel some worry about what people might think of you. “They’ll never trust me with another project.” “They’re going to think I’m incompetent.” You have lunch plans with your friends but honestly you’re feeling a little stressed about the project. Unsure of your place in the organization and overwhelmed by the problem, you cancel your plans. I mean, you don’t really want to ruin the lunch talking about what’s going on, right?
Shame is always looking to rob you of true relationships with other people. Let’s look at the same example above again. Unlike the person who isolates, the person who “fakes it” still goes to lunch, they just lie when someone asks, “How are you doing?” You wouldn’t want your friends to worry or bring the lunch down. “We’re here to have fun.” Shame says, “I can be with people, but I don’t have to tell them what’s going on in my life.”
The result of both of these responses to life’s mess is shame robbing you of true friendship and intimate relationships with your family, your partner, your friends, and your coworkers. To take it a step further, it robs the people in your life of ever having any real value in your life. You rob them from ever having the opportunity to love and care for you.
If you’ve been dealing with shame, try being honest with people about what’s going on. You don’t have to jump full force into telling everyone everything that’s happening in your life. Just pick one or two people and practice confiding in them. Test the waters with them. Be honest about your frustrations and hurts and see how they respond. If their response causes more shame or pain, they are not the right person for you. That’s okay. Try someone else.
Don’t give up on being honest with people. The true friendship you’ll find is worth the nervousness or awkwardness of practicing being honest.
Absorbing pain is an underrated and under-practiced relationship-building technique. Here’s what it’s all about: When someone is hurting and confides in you, don’t offer advice, don’t take a side, just listen. Create a safe space for them to express what’s going on inside them.
Most people don’t need advice or another person to condemn them, they just need someone to listen and absorb their pain without any condemnation.
Heather and Jamie love to bring people together. So naturally, their podcast is a place where they want to do the same. Every season, we set aside episodes to hear from YOU and talk about YOUR thoughts. Text “LIFE” to 23101 or leave us a voicemail at 918-270-8590 to share your question.