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What Story From Your Life Makes You Go Into Hiding? 

Written by: Kerri D. Chadwick, M.S.
What Story From Your Life Makes You Go Into Hiding? 

According to The Gottman Institute; Here’s the truth about shame: the less you talk about it with someone safe, the more control it has over your life and psychological well-being. The fear behind shame is usually the belief that sharing your story and being who you are will make people think less of you. It fights against the human need for acceptance.

This is a simple concept and I understand it well.

  • I can consider things that might create shame for those around me.
  • I am completely confident in the process of helping them to learn and grow at a deeper level when they can talk about it with someone safe.
  • I 100% believe that if I am the safe person, that I will not judge them or think poorly of them for being human and having made bad choices- even choices that have resulted in hurt toward other people.
  • I can sit with them openly and honestly in that space and time, being completely genuine and share their pain.
  • When ready, I can continue with them in their growth process towards increased consistency in their values and seeking forgiveness of others and within themselves.

Knowing all this, and having practiced it with others many times over the years, why then am I unable to apply it to myself?  When I am the one feeling deep shame, why do I feel so strongly

  • That I am the only exception?
  • That no safe place to talk and to process exists for me?
  • That I am so bad because of a past decision and situation that there is no safe place for me?
  • That a person who could hear my story and remain non-judgmental is a fantasy?

So, I face this dilemma with a strong desire to learn and grow in potential, to become more – that requires me to look and accept that I am human and imperfect.  Human and imperfect on a level that I feel cuts so deep it cannot be repaired.  How can one look at a choice made that goes so contrary to values they hold dear?  To this point in my life, I had not personally experienced this level of discrepancy between my own actions and values I that I had built a foundation on - honesty, integrity, and openness, to name only a few.  I could not reconcile this gap, and that is where shame filled in.

  • As I continue this journey, I have returned to basics:
  • My personal strategies for emotional regulation.
  • My tolerance for feeling uncomfortable.
  • My understanding of the difference between accepting and learning from the past versus making excuses and avoiding it.

I am more fully practicing what I teach and what I believe to be true, building and refocusing on my values, and letting go of the shame that holds me back from truly learning from my weaknesses, allowing them to give energy towards my growth.  I know who I am and who I want to be.  I have to move through shame and admit my poor judgement in order to become better.

If you are living with shame from past experiences in your life, I invite you to start your journey towards reconciliation.