One question that will stop shame in it’s tracks

Shame is a powerful emotion.  It’s job is to prevent us from hurting others.  But too many times, the same makes us feel like we have no worth or value.  But even if the shame we feel is valid, we always have worth and value simply by being a human living on earth.  It just doesn’t always feel that way.

Many times the feeling of shame comes from inside of me but it can also come from other people criticizing me.  When I feel it coming on, I will try to stop and ask myself:

“Have I done anything wrong?”

If the answer to that question is ‘No’ then I allow myself to let it go and move on.  Easier said than done but the more I do it, the easier it becomes.

If the answer is ‘Yes’, then I figure out what I can do.  Often it’s an apology to someone else and a vow to myself to handle things differently next time.

This is my simple way of stopping shame.  It’s not always easy but at least I have a tool because shame can be a very deep hole and stay with me for a long time.  Over time, I’ve learned to recognize feelings of shame more quickly and get better at apologizing and forgiving myself.

In small ways, it happens with my kids if I yell at them out of frustration about something completely unrelated to them.  In large ways it happens when I behave in a cowardly way.  Thankfully that doesn’t happen that often.  I try to be brave to prevent those instances having learned from making bad decisions in the past!

Doing the brave thing and feeling uncomfortable for a few moments is way better than feeling shame and having to go back later to apologize.  Not only do I not have to feel the same, but I get to feel pride for having done the right thing to begin with and facing my fear.

Courage high!

Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

One way my kids taught me to do what scares me

I jumped off the high dive this weekend. Yes, I was terrified and I almost didn’t do it. I waited until the very last second of adult swim (the 10 minutes of every hour that kids have to get out of the pool). As the clock ticked down I reminded myself that I wanted to live life more fully with my kids. So, I gathered my cojones and started up the ladder, their excited cheers keeping me moving.

When I got up there I realized it was much higher than I expected. I slowly walked to the end of the board, fighting every urge to climb back down. I thought of watching both my kids face this moment and how they stepped off despite their fear.

It’s so easy to watch them jump with an attitude like ‘been there done that, now it’s their turn’. The fact is, when you haven’t done it in years, it becomes new and hard and scary again. I realized I didn’t like the attitude I had, I don’t want to be a smug grown-up.

So, I did it.  I stepped off the edge. And I screamed all the way down. I earned some chuckles from the other adults (a pretty rapt audience since NOBODY else was in the pool) and an impressed nod from another mom. I laughed at my ridiculous scream, embarrassed but also…proud.

I gained a newfound respect for my kids after that dive.

They are braver than me.

I have some catching up to do.

Photo by Jorge Mallo on Unsplash