What I got out of I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t)

When I first flicked through this book I thought it was quite dense and scholarly. But as I started reading it, I found it was one of those books I could read quickly because of how insightful and helpful it was.

This book helped me understand more about the identity crisis I went through last year and my struggle with depression and anxiety.

It’s packed so full of information that it might be best to read through it slowly, but it made so much sense and explained a lot of things for me that I wanted to read it as fast as I could.

I stopped every now and then to take notes when something really resonated with me, when I didn’t want to forget something, or when I wanted to apply something.

I’ll share some of what I learnt here:

  • Shame comes from conflicting expectations. It makes me feel trapped in a web of expectations that come from everywhere. I try to please everyone and when I can’t, I feel like a bad person and blame myself.
  • I feel powerless, as if I have no choices. But what I’m really saying is: I’m not as worthy as those people I’m trying to please. I do have choices. They just won’t please everyone and won’t live up to expectations.
  • The expectations are unrealistic. No-one can live up to them all.
  • I can end up agreeing with the expectations people have for me and think that they come from me.
  • Shame is a huge part of my life. Bigger than I realised. Some people direct it outward and explode. I direct it inward and implode.
  • There is a difference between embarrassment, humiliation, guilt and shame. I share about that in this post: Thoughts about shame
  • Guilt is healthier than shame. Guilt helps me change behaviours I don’t like. Shame makes me think I can’t change them because I’m a bad person.
  • Shame comes from seeing myself the way I think others see me. So I try to control how people see me. But this isn’t possible.
  • Speak shame – This one is hard for me because I found thinking about my shame and understanding it really hard. I get lost in not knowing what I’m feeling and struggle to know the cause of it. Something to work on. But I love this concept of telling people how I feel and what I need. I just got to figure it out before I can tell people, and then I’ve got to find the courage to tell people.
  • Don’t aim for perfection. Perfection is unattainable. So don’t worry about perfection. Focus on improvement. Don’t aim to be the perfect person, just aim to be kinder, or a better listener, or more generous. Forget the ideal picture I want to be; start where I am. Focus on growth through goal setting. This way there is no shame in not hitting perfect.

I’m not finished thinking and writing about this book. It’s given me a major light-bulb moment, lots of helpful insights, some challenges, and an appreciation for this discussion around shame.

I want to continue the discussion because I’ve found understanding and talking about shame is what frees me from shame.

How do you feel about shame?


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