What I know about shame from personal experience is something I’m sure many of you have felt before as well.
Last night before bed, I was thinking about all of the financially broken hearted and discouraged people I encounter. I’m a member of many Facebook groups and I see it on posts all the time.
“I know I should know better and I’m really ashamed to have to admit that I have bad credit. I wanna buy a house for my family but I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. I really don’t know what to do…help?”
“I’m terrified to tell my fiancee about how much debt I have. What if she leaves me because of it?”
“I’m so dumb for thinking that I deserve a new car! I’m cutting everything out fun out of my budget and becoming a minimalist, because I should’ve known better and now I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.”
Then there’s the person in comment section poppin’ off about they’re stupid for buying what they did or accumulating the amount of debt they have, how they should’ve known better, they had no business making those mistakes, blah blah blah…
Have you seen that before? Have you experienced that in your own life?
When I see people taking that brave, so very brave, leap to speak their truth and they get verbally slapped for it. I get all in my feelings. What I see is someone who is absolutely fed up with feeling how they’re feeling and struggling to get by, but they need help. And they took a chance on themselves to get that help. That should be applauded! That’s HARD to do! And a large part of the reason people won’t ask for help is because of shame.
During my trials and tribulations of surviving millennial life, I’ve had more than my fair share of shameful situations. And I’ve learned a few things:
- Shame Hurts. And it hurts really badly and very deeply. Shame can make me sick to my stomach, it makes me not want to get out of bed, zaps my energy and kills my creativity. If I dwell in it long enough, I actually start believing the nonsense that goes through my head and it can really get me down in the dumps, can anyone relate?
2. Shame is easy. It’s so much easier to shame myself than deal with the possibility that someone else could shame me. So it’s easier to retreat and keep to myself and suffer in silence. And for a long time, I thought that was the right thing to do.People would rather shame themselves and suffer in silence than risk being shamed by someone else. Click To Tweet
3. Shame is contradictory experience. When I’m experiencing a bout of shame, what a really want is connection. What shame really is, as Brene Brown so eloquently put it, is a fear or disconnection and I definitely agree. And connection really is the cure to shame. Being vulnerable and open with others, instead of hiding will help. Because you can get the support you need and start moving forward with your life.
Now, there is the caveat that you must be selective with who you choose to share your struggles with. But it’s the key to lifting that burden off of your shoulders. If you choose well, you will find a whole new way of connecting to yourself & others.
4. Shame can wreck your life and relationships. If you’re dealing with shame and you’re surrounded by people you’re terrified you can’t trust but you want to connect with, what are you to do? It’s totally natural to avoid those people. But what if those people are your family? Your spouse? Then what happens?
You’ll keep pushing them away because you’re too afraid to deal with the potential negative reaction you’ll get from them. And healthy relationships can’t thrive with expanding disconnection. You likely fear that they will take their love away from you, and that is a gut-wrenching terrifying experience.
All of this is to say that shame is fear based. Fear of judgement, losing connection and losing love from others. It’s part of the human experience, we all have our bouts with it from time to time. But if you’re drowning in shame and it’s ruling your life, it’s time to make a change!! Here are some things you can do to start working through shame you with financial situations or otherwise:
- Acknowledge that this is an issue for you. It’s not easy to admit this to yourself, but it’s a very important start.
- Start small with a journal, you don’t have to jump right into telling everyone your inner secrets. I wouldn’t recommend anyone do that unless you want to. But before you can tell the truth to others you have to be able to tell the truth to yourself. And if it’s hard, that’s okay and very normal. Just take your time.
- Commit to doing more self-compassion work so you can send more love to yourself consistently, especially when you’re feeling shameful. Then you’ll know if you make a poopsie and choose the wrong person to share your struggle, at least you know you have self-love to tuck you in at night.
- Be selective with who you share, but do share! You’re looking for compassionate people who will listen to you. Not people who will listen to make your struggle about them, but will really hear you and be there for you. But most importantly, don’t suffer in silence.
If you like to read, I highly recommend checking out Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff, PhD.
Shoot me an email if you need someone to talk to and work through this challenging issue with. Or if you already know this is an area that really burdens you, join the list below so I can give you more resources for success.