So I’m finally reading one of Brene Brown’s books and whoa!
I Thought It Was Just Me is speaking to me! It’s like reading about me. I don’t want to put it down.
Some parts make me sad and make me want to cry, other parts are helping me really understand this thing called shame.
I’m realising shame is a huge part of my life. I’ve been caught up in a web of conflicting expectations that come at me from everywhere and I try to please them all. When I can’t please them, I blame myself and tell myself I’m a bad person.
So instead of turning that shame and anger outward by lashing out at people and exploding, somehow I turned them inward in a cycle of self-loathing and implosion. I wonder if the book will go into why a person would go one way or the other, or if there’s even a reason.
The book talks about the difference between embarrassment, humiliation, guilt and shame. It mentions that different things will bring on these feelings for different people, and these things may change with time and depending on the situation.
I thought I’d share real-life examples where I have felt these feelings to help me understand them.
Embarrassment – Running up to my dad’s legs, throwing my hands around them, and yelling with delight, ‘Daddy!’ I looked up only to realise this wasn’t my dad. My dad was the other man in the room with Hard Yakka pants. A moment when my face went red but I could see the humour in it instantly.
An isolated incident with no long-term effect. It doesn’t make me feel like a bad person. Just a person that finds themselves in a situation that didn’t go to plan.
Humiliation – Anything to do with sport. Being the last one to be picked on a team. Not being able to catch a ball.
I don’t blame myself for these situations. I blame the schools for making me endure something I don’t enjoy. It doesn’t make me feel like a bad person, just a person who isn’t good at sport.
Guilt – When I stole in primary school I knew it was the wrong thing to do. I didn’t think I was a bad person, just a person who make bad choices. I stopped stealing because I knew it was wrong and didn’t want to be a person who did that kind of thing.
Shame – I’m still trying to get my head around this one. I seem to be able to understand the other three because it was easy to find examples. But this one seems too complicated. I know that shame is what makes me avoid certain things like going to parties alone, public speaking, and asking for help from a shop assistant. These things make me highly anxious all because I’m worried what people will think of me.
But then there are other situations that bring shame, too, like when I can’t please people, when there is conflict, and when I can’t be myself. I feel like the worst of the worst in those situations. That’s when self-loathing is at its worst. I think I can’t do things right because I’m a bad person.
I guess I need to keep reading and explore shame more to be able to understand it since it is entangled with a lot of other things: blame, anger, perfectionism, people pleasing, etc.