By Jason Otwell
So many of us are looking for ways to feel more connected to the friends and family members in our lives. The explosion of social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest reflects this desire. Unfortunately, while technology has provided new mediums for connection, many of us continue to feel the pull for more. So, why is finding relational satisfaction so difficult?
I believe that a poorly understood but powerful underlying cause is our shame. Shame shows up in our lives like a little voice that says “You’re not good enough” or “Who do you think you are?”. It is a powerful, negative label that we rarely directly acknowledge, preferring to hide it from ourselves and others.
For example, at a party you try to make a joke that no one gets. Instead of shaking this off as a social goof, shame steals the message that you made a mistake and tells you that you are a failure. Many times these negative labels are well-worn, coming from interactions or experiences earlier in life. As an adult, in an attempt to address these painful labels, we often unconsciously pursue experiences in life that will counteract this pain. This can be exhausting for you and burdensome for those around you, as they can feel obligated to take up the task of bolstering your negative identity. But there is something you can do.
Dealing with your shame looks like:
- Identifying the times where you hear the shame messages – “You are not enough” or “Who do you think you are”
- Differentiating your mistakes from your self-judgments
- Getting clear about your identity – who you really are, both the glory and the gunk
People that have addressed their shame reflect a similar experience – freedom and peace. Freedom to be themselves and to offer themselves to others without needing to get something back in return. Peace in knowing that they are accepted and valued for the unique person they are, no matter what they do. And real connection with others starts here.
This post was heavily influenced by the work of Brene Brown. Feel free to look more into her work on her website, www.brenebrown.com.
© Jason Otwell and Atlanta Counseling Center, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jason Otwell and Atlanta Counseling Center with appropriate and specific direction to the original content