I’ve been feeling shame without knowing it.
I’ve been unable to concretely label it because I lacked the emotional literacy to properly define it.
I started reading Dare to Lead by Brené Brown and it unlocked what I couldn’t define. It gave me the tools I needed to do some real deep digging so I could go shame spelunking.
This feeling of shame started over the last two weeks and I wasn’t sure why. I now understand why.
In April, I took part in Seth Godin’s altMBA. It was a magical journey (you can read about it here)
I had wanted to identify as a writer for a long time, but feared putting myself out there. For years, I shied away. The fear of being less than kept me from making the leap.
altMBA helped me through that.
I started this blog. I committed to writing and shipping three blog posts a week. It was a big commitment and it was scary. But I knew that the program gave me the tools to think bigger and lean into the tension. I took the chance on myself.
And it worked.
I was unsure if I could do it. But I showed up for myself. And I’ve shipped a total of 44 posts to date.
It’s been a source of pride. I proved to myself that if I took a chance and showed up wholeheartedly, I could overcome that which I feared and do more than I thought I was capable of doing.
So where’s the shame? (It’s coming. Hang tight shame-monger.)
This breakthrough experience allowed me to tap into a well of creativity. It just flowed like a torrent. I couldn’t capture ideas fast enough.
But lately, something has changed. The last two weeks the tap feels empty. The ideas seem to have dried up. And I’ve lost the confidence.
I had a streak for so long that I came to expect that as the norm. And that became my expectation.
I wanted to be perfect and show the world (I have no idea who the world is in this situation, no one has any expectations of me for this creative outlet) that I could do it. I wanted to be someone they (again, the nebulous crowd appears) could point to and say “this guy is prolific, he’s so disciplined, so committed, so ambitious.” I wanted to do it for my ego.
But creativity isn’t an all-you-can-eat buffet. It comes in spurts. It requires a lot of bad to get to the juicy, gooey, chocolatey center of great. It also has no room for the ego.
I’ve been feeling shame and less than because I let my ego take over. What started as an exploration in what’s possible morphed into an unrealistic pursuit of perfection. I wanted to be a role model but forgot I’m human and figuring this out as I go.
Brené recently did an episode on shame and accountability on the Unlocking Us podcast. She talked about how shame hates being named, it likes to hide. She mentions that to build shame resilience is to recognize when you are in shame and move towards empathy. She has a mantra she uses when she’s deep in shame to help her out of it:
I’m not here to be right, I’m here to get it right.
I’ve been telling myself this a lot lately.
I write to explore. Sometimes that exploration comes to a dead end. That’s part of the process. Sometimes there are many dead ends before I finally pick the right path. And hopefully it leads me to something beautiful and vulnerable and that connects with others. And when it does, it’s art and it’s a gift.
My journey began as a goal to push myself and prove I could do more than I thought possible. I leaned into the fear and soldered on. I took great pride in it. That pride turned to perfection. And when I failed to see the false allure of perfection for what it was, I felt less than and shame took over.
Any assumption of perfection is an empathetic miss. Brené Brown (Dare to Lead)
The quickest way out of shame is through empathy.
Perfection got in the way of self-empathy. And when we don’t make room for empathy, shame takes over.
So, if you are reading this, I see you and thank you for your attention and time. Both are the most precious gifts we have to give to others. I apologize for writing from a place of ego rather than from heart.
I’m still learning. I hope to reconnect with heart and purpose.
Because this life is all we have. And what a beautiful way to honor it by trying to make a genuine connection with those we share it with during our brief time here.
Shame kills that connection.
Shame is something we all feel but rarely talk about.
This is me working to get it right.
Thanks for reading.