How Can Sharing One’s Shame, Eliminate It?

Martha Beck wrote in an article entitled, Take Pride: Freedom From Shame & Humiliation: “I was about to learn that my level of shame was always under my own control, that I would endure exactly as much humiliation as I consented to feel, and that instead of tolerating this awful feeling, I could simply dispense with it. All of this is equally true for you.”

shameIn the article, she writes about learning while pregnant, that she is carrying a child with special needs. “Avoiding humiliation was practically my religion. I was a slavish overachiever, desperate to succeed, to please, to fit in. Now, it seemed, I would be obviously and publicly shamed in the all-important role of mother.”

Can you relate to being a “slavish overachiever?” Many people, especially those living in cities such as New York, feel a desperate need, not only to be good but to be great. Good enough is rarely good enough.

There is a wonderful saying by Eleanor Roosevelt, that Beck quotes in her article, “No one can cause us to feel humiliation or shame without our consent.” How often do we give our consent away and how can we take it back?

Beck believes if we align our beliefs with our actions, we can eliminate our shame. How exactly does one do this? Beck has two strategies: “Strategy number one is obvious: Don’t do anything you think is wrong or fail to do anything you consider morally necessary. Number two: Stop trying to change your behavior; instead, rethink your beliefs. ”

sharingBeck then suggests sharing your shame with a safe person. By unburdening oneself of a shameful belief and still feeling accepted by the person with whom you are sharing it, is empowering and shame eliminating.

Beck writes about her son, “I got a similar gift from the potential humiliation of having a son with an extra chromosome. I am proud of everything about Adam, who at 22 is one of the finest people I know. I’ve written about him, traveled the world with him, stood with him before crowds gathered to celebrate his difference. What’s sometimes hard to contain is not the humiliation but the pride and joy of taking my child out in public. ”

I encourage you to share your whole self. You may be pleasantly surprised to know that you’re not alone in your shameful beliefs and that you can still be loved and accepted.

How have you overcome shame? What helped you most? Or do you have something you want to share? I’d love to help you through it. Contact me here.