Posts

shame

If a boss made you feel stupid or a clique excluded you, you know what shame feels like.   Shame is a very uncomfortable topic.  Brené Brown, PhD, and well-known shame researcher says nothing shuts down a conversation like her response to the question, “What do you do?”

Shame is Human

All of us have experienced shame because, as Brown writes in The Gifts of Imperfection, it turns up in the most “familiar places, including appearance and body image, family, parenting, money and work, health, addiction, sex, aging, and religion. To feel shame is to be human.”  We humans are hard-wired for belonging because it was critical to the survival of our ancestors who couldn’t make it alone.

Cultivate Resilience

We feel shame when we believe that we don’t measure up to someone else’s standards for fitting in but we can win the shame game by cultivating resilience.  Here is how to do that:

  • Recognize the symptoms: you start down what Brown calls a shame spiral when you think, “I am a failure” instead of “I failed to deliver on my objectives this quarter.”
  • Share your story: since shame thrives in secret, talking with someone you trust takes away its power.  The #MeToo movement is a great example of this but you don’t have to go public.
  • Practice self-compassion: give yourself a break and treat yourself the way you treat other people you love and respect.

The author of A Wrinkle in Time  (the basis for a movie starring Oprah Winfrey) wrote, “People are more than just the way they look.”  How would you complete this sentence: “I am more than…”?

English author and philosopher Francis Bacon, an advocate of inductive reasoning in science, wrote, “Knowledge is power” in 1597.  This phrase has come up with many of my clients recently in a new form: self-knowledge is power.

Increase Your Awareness

One of the first steps in coaching is creating awareness of strengths, motivators and stress behaviors, typically through a personality assessment and confidential feedback from colleagues.  The challenge then becomes what to do with that information.  I often tell my clients, “You don’t have to agree with all of the feedback but you can choose what to do with it.”

Knowing

  • your strengths gives you the power to resist buying into destructive comments from an undermining co-worker.
  • what motivates you gives you the power to pursue a role that makes you look forward to work every day.
  • what triggers your stress behaviors gives you the power to stay calm and in control when your brain wants you to do the opposite.

What do you need to know in order to be your most powerful self?