The Lessons Of Shame

Posted on 15. Oct, 2013 by in Lead From Within, Leadership, Leadership Development, Personal Development

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 4.28.11 PMHe sat across from me, clearly nervous and looking ashamed. “I have to tell you something about myself ,” he said, “and I don’t want you to judge me—I want you to help me.”

He explained how at work he would randomly pick a person and walk by and whisper, “Shame on you, they know!“

As he walked away he would turn around to see the person’s reaction, and it was always the same: confusion and bewilderment, followed by worry, then fear, then panic. He could see their deep shame and fear and it gave him some pleasure.

His story made me cringe, but it also taught me some important lessons about shame.

Lesson one: Shame Exists:

Shame is a source within us all. Shame can stem from the belief that we are not good and we are unworthy. It keeps us stuck in ourselves, feeling the pain. It makes us reject ever finding our true self or knowing who we are. This is the fate that resides within us if we live with shame.

Lesson two: Shame and Blame:

Shame fosters the belief that we are to blame, and that we are utterly powerless in our circumstances. Identifying our shame helps us take responsibility for our mistakes without believing we are the mistake. One must learn to be kind and compassionate towards themselves and to have a heart for their own imperfections.

Shame tells us we make mistakes because we are a mistake.

 

Lesson three: Shame That Binds:

Shame binds us when it stays unresolved, shame attaches itself to all our emotions and creates havoc with our feelings. If we want to heal, we have the responsibility to liberate ourselves from our shame with empathy and care. Sometimes we may feel worse before it gets better, but when shame is looked at closely it can free us to be the person we are meant to be without being ashamed of who we are.

Choosing ourselves over our shame gives us an chance to choose life.

 

Lesson four: Shame and Fear:

When shame is laced with fear, it gestures to us that we are in danger and it keeps us feeling ashamed. Facing the fear loosens the grip of shame by helping us understand that our shame is not everything we are and it does not cloak all that we do. Knowing that we can deal with our secret begins to take the weight off.

Lesson five: Shame and Transference:

Shame on you is really shame on me, the ones causing us pain are wounded themselves. Sometimes we look for someone to blame for our suffering, and those who really hate themselves transfer their hurt to lessen their pain. Be kind to those who have hurt you, because they too are hurting. (And if you are experiencing these feelings yourself, please seek guidance, mentorship, and help.)

The ones causing us pain are wounded carriers of shame.

 

Lesson six: Shame Exposed:
Shame is like a wound—if it is never exposed, it will never heal. Discharging shame releases the toxicity of the emotional pain that causes suffering. If we can share our shame with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame will cease to take hold of us. Shame cannot survive if faced with understanding and compassion.

Shame derives its power from silence. It drives us towards our limitations.

 

Give yourself permission to put a stop to shame. If you keep your head down out of shame or fear, you miss the heart of what truly matters.

Lead From Within: Shame exists within all of us. Do not be ashamed of asking for help; find a safe person to share one of your shameful parts of yourself and lead yourself away from self-defeating attitudes.

For coaching, consulting, workshops and speaking. Please feel free to contact me.
© 2013 Lolly Daskal. All rights reserved.

Artist: Davit Mirzoyan

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42 Responses to “The Lessons Of Shame”

  1. Alli Polin

    15. Oct, 2013

    Lolly ~

    I’ll bet every person that reads this post feels as if you are truly speaking to them. Thank you for tackling this topic that makes us want to hide, pretend, get angry and close ourselves off.

    One of the times I was most filled with shame I surprised many people I know by quickly transforming the shame into compassion. I truly felt for the people that hurt me and didn’t believe in me. Knowing that they were simply treading water and doing their best, like me, made them human and absolutely nobody is perfect. Turning to shame didn’t serve me but acceptance of their behavior, and their humanity, did.

    Beautiful post, Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      Shame is everywhere and with everyone!

      Turning shame to compassion is the stepping stone to healing.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing from the heart.

      Appreciate you deeply.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  2. Karin Hurt

    15. Oct, 2013

    Powerful post. We hide the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. But when we let the air in, as you suggest the healing is transformative. Thanks for raising this vital topic.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      VERY TRUE: We hide the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. But when we let the air in, as you suggest the healing is transformative.

      Thanks for the added insight.
      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  3. Martina

    15. Oct, 2013

    Very important points about pain, Lolly. And especially apropos at a time when many people find themselves going through difficultites in life because of finances, etc.

    Yes, sadly, we tend to own the mistakes to the point of making them part of our persona, and we feel that we are a mistake. And this wrong thinking leads us nowhere good.

    You second important point is that hurt people, hurt other people. We have to work to separate lashing our and criticism from honest critique.

    We can only work to heal when we can look at the pain, mistakes, the nmis-steps and shame and see them in the clear light of day. Then we can fix the things and situations that can be repaired, and the others, we can release instead of making them a part of our definition of who we are.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      Shame is a topic that is shameful to many.

      Sometimes reading about pain makes you aware that you are not the only one struggling.

      As leaders, parents, partners, spouses, the more we connect, the more we share, the more we speak up, the less we have to hide.

      To heal is to speak from the heart.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  4. Frank Sonnenberg

    15. Oct, 2013

    Hi Lolly

    I read your post from another vantage point … And, my blood began to boil.

    What gives someone the right to play games with another person? To all those “macho” people who bully kids or abuse woman, I say, “Shame on you.” You may be bigger or may be the boss, but that doesn’t give you the right to hurt someone else, physically or mentally. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. My hope is that someone more powerful gives it right back to him. Then, only then, will he’ll realize the hurt that he caused others.

    Thanks, as always, for keeping us thinking.

    Best,

    Frank

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      Frank I admire your passion.

      You are correct it is shame on him. AND we still need to help those who struggle, those who bully, those who abuse.
      Because it is always those who wound have been wounded themselves.

      Here is where compassion and a great therapist is needed.
      Here is where the world is not always a pretty place is understood.

      Yes what he did was BEYOND comprehension but he recognized he needed help!
      And help is what he got.
      It is those folks who don’t think they are doing anything wrong that is worrisome.

      All I can say Frank, thanks for your heart, your caring, your thoughtfulness. WE NEED MORE HERO’S and leaders like yourself!

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
      • Valencia Ray, MD

        22. Jun, 2014

        There’s a saying, ‘Hurting people hurt people.’ The bottom line is that while we don’t have to condone people’s behavior, having compassion for them – as you mention Lolly – can allow them to touch their own seemingly ‘impervious to vulnerability’ hearts. Bullies are simply wounded people who feel fearful and unloved and bullying I’d assume helped him/her feel more powerful and stuff their own hidden shame. Sure there’s a price to pay for that kind of behavior and still – they need compassion and healing too. I do my best to think, ‘But for Grace, there go I.”

        Reply to this comment
  5. LaRae Quy

    15. Oct, 2013

    Like Frank, I had a hard time getting beyond the fact that this guy bullied other people by whispering, “Shame on you.” While not all bullies use those exact words, they carry the same meaning…implying that we’ve done something very wrong and hurt someone.

    When we beieve we’ve hurt others, we may (or may not) feel regret depending on whether we feel we got something out of it. BUT when we believe we’ve hurt ourselves, we recoil instantly and feel shame at our actions.

    The missing link is that whenever we hurt others, we are also hurting ourselves…thanks for reminding us of that important message.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      LaRae

      your missing link The missing link is that whenever we hurt others, we are also hurting ourselves is the MAIN link!
      The link that makes us stop the bullying, abuse, and emotional roller coaster of struggle.

      Thanks for your added wisdom always appreciate your thoughts.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  6. Panteli Tritchew

    15. Oct, 2013

    There are so many books and resources about building and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as repairing broken ones. Yet, fundamentally, the most important relationship we have is the relationship within ourselves, which can be creative or destructive.

    It’s that relationship that defines and informs our relationship with others and the world. We create, live and act within our own myths, myths that reflect our relationship with the world, a relationship that is (for the most part) chosen by us.

    Two quotes from Carl Jung came to mind as I read your post, Lolly. The first, one of his most famous, is a positive affirmation: “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” …We’ve all seen the posters.

    The second, I believe, is corollary to the first, though far less known and quoted:

    “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

    We cannot choose to *become* unless we know who we are, and we can’t know who we are without looking within, and what we find within may frighten us. And there is no shame in that. Thank you for inviting us, Lolly.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      I always know I can count on you Panteli for some added wisdom that makes me think or say YES YES YES YES!

      Loved your two quotes! But this was my favorite and it comes from YOUR HEART.

      We cannot choose to *become* unless we know who we are, and we can’t know who we are without looking within, and what we find within may frighten us. And there is no shame in that.

      Beautifully said, beautifully worded! And deep seated truth!

      Hope to see you tonight even though you are on the other side of the world.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”
      ― Brené Brown

      Reply to this comment
  7. Garren Fagaragan

    15. Oct, 2013

    Excellent Lolly…

    I agree with Panteli…a key is being in right relationship
    with oneself.

    Your emphasis of being compassionate and kind with oneself is on the mark.

    As difficult as it may be…one must gather up the courage to reach out just a bit…

    and find those compassionate/kind people and environments who can support the dissolution of one’s shame…

    seek them out and receive their benefits so that your
    radiant inherent goodness may shine forth.

    thanks Lolly…

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      Agree Garren with your insightful wisdom:
      As difficult as it may be…one must gather up the courage to reach out just a bit…

      and find those compassionate/kind people and environments who can support the dissolution of one’s shame…

      seek them out and receive their benefits so that your
      radiant inherent goodness may shine forth.

      Wholeheartedly I agree.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you tonight.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      Shame is a soul eating emotion.”
      ― C.G. Jung

      Reply to this comment
  8. Scott Mabry

    15. Oct, 2013

    Love your points, especially around shame exposed. After working in recovery for a number of years this is one of the most important breakthroughs a person can experience. That moment when they tell their story and still experience love and support is huge. Thanks for tackling this important topic which affects people and organizations, every day.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      Scott you are a courageous leader and you are so right…

      That moment when they tell their story and still experience love and support is huge.

      We cannot do this alone, if we stand alone in our shame it will eat us up from the inside out.

      I appreciate you Scott, thanks for stopping by.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  9. Terri Klass

    15. Oct, 2013

    You have written about such an important topic, Lolly and one that is oftentimes pushed aside.

    I just came from a workshop where a young woman approached me in the restroom and shared her shame with me of not being able to speak in front of people- not being able to even say her name. She was so ashamed yet I tried to comfort her and told her I would gracefully handle it when it was time to speak. I did. But something amazing happened. By allowing her to “expose” her shame to me, she was able to regain her voice.

    She was a gift and I told her that. By allowing ourselves to share our shame, we empower ourselves to own it and destroy it.

    Amazing post, Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      Terri

      You are an amazing woman! You gave her a gift of a lifetime. You helped her find her voice.

      You are so empowering!

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  10. Karen Jolly

    15. Oct, 2013

    Shame is a powerful emotion. This article highlights that so well and reminds me that when shame shows up on my radar, its time to do some soul searching. I was shamed many times by my parents when I was young, so when I feel it, I know where it came from and that there is another aspect I need to delve into and expose.

    You are so right that exposing the shame and bringing it to the light of day is what sets you free. People shame because they were shamed and have not dealt with their pain. Understanding how debilitating this emotion can be, its hard for me to get mad at someone who shames -as I know they are suffering from it themselves.

    It seems all of us have felt shame at one level or another and its good to know the steps to free ourselves from its ugly snare. Thank you for sharing this Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      15. Oct, 2013

      Karen,

      I appreciate your vulnerable comment. Shame as you say is a powerful emotion.

      If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, if we allow our shame to be heard or seen, we are honoring the connection we have with ourselves. (all parts of ourselves)

      Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, all hold us back from being ourselves. The loving beings we are known to be. We can only survive our inner suffering when we acknowledge- heal and love ourselves for who we are.

      Thanks so much for sharing Karen I TRULY APPRECIATE and HONOR YOU.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  11. lollydaskal

    15. Oct, 2013

    “If we are going to find our way out of shame and back to each other courage is the light.

    To set down those lists of *what we’re supposed to be* is brave.

    To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.”
    ― Brené Brown

    Reply to this comment
  12. Chantal Bechervaise

    15. Oct, 2013

    I love the wisdom and insights you share. Great post! Shame is often the little inner voice holding us back, saying we are not good enough or don’t deserve better. It takes love, compassion and courage to open up and examine our own shame and learn from it.
    Sometimes the shame voice drowns out our heart voice but we need to focus on the heart voice… it will help us have the strength to move through the pain of shame and be stronger and braver.

    Reply to this comment
  13. DEVENDRA SRIVASTAVA

    16. Oct, 2013

    ONE OF THE BEST ARTICLES THAT I HAVE READ SO FAR.
    THANK YOU .

    Reply to this comment
  14. Agus

    16. Oct, 2013

    What a beautiful provocative article, ..

    Shame because we did some mistakes/ wrong, that is learning in this Life.

    Shame to do bad things, unworthy things that is a component of the Faith.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      16. Oct, 2013

      If you want to make a difference in the world the next time you see someone being cruel- abusive- mean- to another being, take it personally. Take it personally because it is personal! Only we who care, only we who use our voice and cry out that is not fair, stop that, will be the change that needs to happen

      Reply to this comment
  15. Dr. Rae

    16. Oct, 2013

    Thank you Lolly for sharing this very powerful post…

    Reply to this comment
  16. ushivon

    16. Oct, 2013

    I don’t feel a lot of shame. Anything I feel bad about, I work at stopping, I acknowledge it and I work towards change. Thing is that SHAME affects others around me and your blog here and the comments show me how badly others feel shame and their shame is the reason for their anger towards me. Now I understand better why others are so mean to me because I never really did understand it this well before.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      16. Oct, 2013

      ……….. as long as you are in any way ashamed of yourself and hiding because of it, you will not come to understand others.

      Reply to this comment
  17. JOHN MULROY

    16. Oct, 2013

    the post is correct,,,,but the words used to fix it is not,,the things u do that will shame u,,r Not the reasons 4 ur shame,,it come’s from somewhee else,,that u did not mention,,,Ur some Lady though,,,john

    Reply to this comment
  18. Agus

    18. Oct, 2013

    this comment very resonate to me “next time you see someone being cruel- abusive- mean- to another being, take it personally. Take it personally because it is personal!”.

    You knew it didn’t You?.

    May God blessing and lighting of US.
    Amen.

    Thanks.

    Reply to this comment
  19. Wayne McEvilly

    18. Oct, 2013

    Lolly:
    Having carried over an already long lifetime a sense of profound shame (for what? for having been born at all, first off, yes, that would definitely be it) I have only recently (in the past several years) begun to awaken to the responsibility I bear for ridding myself totally of this monstrous presence within my heart, so it is with some sense of “being an expert” at the problem that I approached your post this afternoon. What a post it is! Having read all the comments also, and your responses to each and every one of them, I am left with the sure grasp that at the center of the solution lies the person, honoring one’s own self-discovered personhood. For over 3/4 of a century I lived for the most part in practical ignorance of the primal fact that we were born for joy. Having wakened to this, the responsibility of acting upon the fact, of doing on a daily basis what is required to enjoy one’s very own life here, becomes the central issue to be met.. So much heavy weight falls away – so much light floods in, so much that does not require “accomplishment’ “credentials” “approval” “praise” that just to be here is an entitlement to jubilation. Well, you certainly have done a great job of communicating with so many at so deep a level, I thought it best just to post this off the cuff comment in case it might be of any use to anyone else out there.
    Love,
    Wayne
    and lots of the heart that you dispense so generously be with you, Lolly.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Marian

    21. Oct, 2013

    Does everyone stay in shame? I know many people, including “Shame on me!”, for things I wished I had done differently, get out of that shame. When I kneel at Jesus feet and pray for forgiveness, and His Lordship in my life, I am free (!) from that shame! I no longer carry that burden of shame! I’m free! Join me, and you can be free also! You may email me your response at HomeNetworkSuccess.com . God bless

    Reply to this comment
  21. Simon Harvey

    21. Oct, 2013

    Dear Lolly,

    A powerful post that goes deep into the heart of who we are. Shame likes to go straight to the ego and push it out of bed.

    This in turn leads the ego to grab at the first thing it sees, and this is shame. But shame, like fear offers places of learning. If we can learn to see the source of this feeling, we can learn to see that shame, as fear, likes to attach itself within the mind.

    As your example offers, shame can start from a reaction of the ego grabbing at something for support. As this person worried about who they are, shame raised up to offer a quick solution to the wonder of life. Shame offers transference, whether it is pain or fear, shame is always there to offer a quick way out of wonder. I can reach out to shame or I can let shame go, shame is but a vessel for hate and fear.

    Great leaders do not use shame as a vessel, they use compassion and vision. They offer hope and create a vision where shame is offered no wind for its sails. If you feel shame look deep within to find its anchor, and when you find it, reach down and let it go. Let compassion blow shame away, and let wonder and understanding replace it.

    There is no shame within the heart, shame docks within the mind, and compassion, wonder and understanding will always blow shame away.

    As always Lolly your posts bring out so much beautiful wonder, thank you .

    Your friend,
    Simon

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      24. Oct, 2013

      Simon

      you are right there is no shame in the heart, but the mind makes us think there is …that is why we need to be vigilant with ourselves when feelings of shame does come up.

      i love what you wrote: Shame offers transference, whether it is pain or fear, shame is always there to offer a quick way out of wonder. I can reach out to shame or I can let shame go, shame is but a vessel for hate and fear.

      Such truth!
      Appreciate your wisdom and thoughtful insights.
      Thanks Simon!

      Reply to this comment
  22. Ruth Schwartz

    24. Oct, 2013

    Beautiful work Lolly,
    Thanks for referencing Brene as well for everyone here who mentions the antidote to even the most simple shameful moments: vulnerability is OK. Shameful moments don’t have to be dramatic, they are just our human moments. I’m working though this in the most simple ways. Ruth

    Reply to this comment
  23. Valencia Ray, MD

    22. Jun, 2014

    I can relate to this article in that at one time shame also haunted me…”shame on you” is a phrase I’m thankful to say I never said to my children. I can say now though that thanks to my own grit and willingness to change my thinking, I’ve come to see shame as a story we tell ourselves. We ALL make mistakes – which are simply opportunities to learn and grow from. Mistakes are not even anything to be ashamed of either – it just reveals a need to “change your mind” …and heart I would add. Shame speaks to our very sense of identity – somethings wrong with us, whereas guilt is about doing something proclaimed as wrong. Both are healing opportunities.

    Thanks to a willingness to grow, I no longer suffer from feelings of shame or guilt and I’ve come to see them as simply a perceptual story and opportunity to demonstrate compassion, forgiveness and love for myself and others. And, an opportunity to free my/your mind and heart from the tyranny of negative self-talk.

    Reply to this comment

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