Do This When Shame Breaks Your Belief in Yourself

 Photo by Volkan Olmez

Photo by Volkan Olmez

Shame is a powerful force. I think it’s worse than death. It’s debilitating.

When you feel shame, it could be because you're not able to provide for your family the way that you want to, not living up to someone’s expectations, or that you’re not being true to yourself.

Oooo. So many ways to feel shame.

Is shame helpful? Maybe it can be, but you can’t wallow in it. Shame can hang around like an uninvited guest that won’t leave after everyone has gone home.

There’s only one way to dissolve shame from your bones. You have to evaporate it, stomp it out. Crack its back by doing something that makes you feel powerful.

What’s a good decision that you can make, then act on right now? If you had one action you could take, what would make you feel like you could do anything?

Let’s list a few things:

  • Read a new book

  • Take a new course

  • Learn a new skill

  • Try a new career

  • Start a new exercise routine

What motivates me, makes me feel less shame, and replaces the shame of failure with pride is validation. It’s not going to solve the bigger problem, but it can bring back the motivation and willpower which is what you need to make the big moves.

I’m guessing that you’re not a lazy person. There are definitely lazy people out there, that complain about their situation but don’t do anything to improve it.

I know that’s not you…

I’m talking to the person who has experimented with numerous paths and is still getting nowhere.

Your family looks at you, holding their breath in unbearable silence. Although they don’t say it, you know what they are thinking—when are you going to get it together?

The shame that you feel when everyone around you seems to have it figured out, that they have the answers, and you’re the one who is trying “everything,” but still spinning your wheels.

You want to throw up your hands and say, “I give up! This isn't working.”

Shameful failure is worse than when you end a relationship because it’s a spiritual breakup with you and your potential.

You feel like you have to hide your real self because it hasn't been validated in the real world yet.

You have plenty of ammunition in your mind—great ideas and work ethic—but the money isn’t coming in.

You have rent to pay and kids to feed. Sometimes you don’t even want to be around them because the shame, the inability to be successful doing what you want to do, is too much to bear around their playful laughter.

What can you do to get rid of this terrible feeling?

You need a dose of validation, something great that will refuel your tank.

It’s a desperate time. You’re not lazy. You know what you want out of life more than most of the people who have it “figured out.” You know that a lot of them are satisfied with resigning their fates to building someone else’s dreams, just for a paycheck.   

That’s not you.

Things are going to suck and suck for a while. The shame won’t go away but what remedy do you have other than to take actions that you know are right?

I’m in a state of flux, adjusting my definition of what right is. There is way to build the life I want without walking down the safe path forever.

This crossroads sucks. The price is high, detrimental to my heart, the shame eats at me, but what is better? Appeasing everyone else because it’s safe and what’s expected, or going after true desires?

If I have these goals that never go away, that haunt me day and night, isn’t it my duty to pay attention to them? Isn’t it my nature that’s crying out?

Yes to all the above, but here’s the irony; the safe road goes the opposite direction of where I want to go, but it winds around in the distance ahead. We just can’t see it from where we are.

We have to travel a path of validation, even if it’s not actually what we want. It’s not forever but validation is what we need to push on, to get rid of shame, and to eventually build the life that you desire.

...And most of the time, the sign of validation that you need is in the form of money.  

Take what validation you can in the form of money that is constructive, but don't resign yourself to it. Taking a job that you don’t like to make things easier doesn't mean that you cannot have the future you want.

Use this as a time to clarify your vision for your future, and how you’re going to create it. This way, you’re operating from a place of power, not from a place of shame.

You don't need to be a starving artist...

You need to be an entrepreneur working a strategy, one smart move at a time.