An easy(?) alternative to shaming yourself

I’m in an uncomfortable space. I’m a little squirrely and unfocused. A little disoriented. A lot disappointed. A bit unsure. Easily exhausted. All of these things are happening at an unconscious level. Well actually, I’m sort of aware of them at a conscious level because I notice how I’m feeling.

But the processing is happening below the surface. I’m judging myself and even shaming myself for feeling these things. Why? That is a really good question.

Why am I feeling these things? There are reasons, circumstances. I was looking forward to a musical trip to Scotland, and the second leg of my trip was canceled by the airline and I couldn’t rebook anything that would get me there in time. So I’m rightfully disappointed.  I started a new part-time job and it’s in a bit of a disarray and I have to learn (or invent) a bunch of new processes. So it’s logical that I’m a bit unsure. I don’t have a rhythm with my new role yet, so it makes sense that I’m a little disoriented. All of these things together make feeling squirrely seem perfectly normal.

In fact, all of these things are perfectly normal things for me – for anyone with a healthy brain – to feel. So why am I judging and shaming myself for feeling them?  Why do I feel that these perfectly normal feelings are some kind of weakness, or flaw? Those are better questions.

The answer is I think I shouldn’t feel this way. I should feel differently: Strong. Confident. I should just walk into a job and have it mastered. I should roll with the punches. Be grateful for what I do have…a trip is a luxury, after all.

Really? Yes. I have been socialized to compare myself to some external ideals of how I “should” handle things. And when I don’t measure up I instinctively feel shame and blame and inadequate, again, because that’s how I’ve been socialized.

So that all sounds pretty complicated…where is the easy alternative?

Here it is: stop it. Yup, just stop shaming myself. Stop allowing shame to be acceptable.

Maybe it takes a few steps to get there. That’s fine. I can start with pink thinking. Pink represents unconditional love, remember? Acknowledge that it’s perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable sometimes. Understand that the reasons might even make sense given the circumstances. Be compassionate if I respond differently than I “should” – because, you know, shoulds can be pretty toxic.

Shoulds are a HUGE indicator of our socialization. I should be smarter, more confident, smarter, prettier, thinner, calmer, handle things more like a man would…

Shame is a HUGE indicator that I am being poisoned by shoulds.

I would not shame someone else. Neither would you. So let’s stop shaming ourselves, okay? Let’s make a pact.

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!



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