Being brave to own our story of shame
15 Oct 2017
Shame and change
Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.Brené Brown - American scholar
We have all made mistakes. Some mistakes go unnoticed while some gets noticed by others. I’m sure no one reading this would have never made a mistake that they regretted. Maybe, not everyone is bold enough to confess but I have made several mistakes in my personal life, my career and in my business. Some of them, I’m reminded of, more often that I regret deeply. I’ve been called a sinner who will never go to heaven, a psycho who is a social threat, a cheater who eats the food of others, dishonest to never keep my words, worthless to an entrepreneur and more.
There are two things in shame. The first one is the painful feeling you have when you are being humiliated by others for what you have done. The second one is the distress caused by the guilty feeling. Humiliation is a painful when people wants us to believe in a person who isn’t really us by heart. This happens most of the times in our career. You are accused and humiliated for something that went wrong unintentionally. You don’t see people with compassion who can stand with you and encourage you, but only those who point their fingers at you and make you feel you have done something that can never be fixed.
The real problem is not the humiliation but the way we have been taught or lived to judge ourselves by how the world judges us. We constantly seek validation from our peers. It is normal that even when something may be right, if there are many people call it wrong, we give in to the opinion of the majority and end up considering it wrong. It’s however a bad idea to never get opinions from others, but let that not validate us. If we believe we have done something wrong and are humiliated, rather than giving up, I think we could apologize and try to fix the situation, even if our apology is not accepted or even if we can no longer fix the situation – I mean, what else can you do anyway?
Guilt, I think, is mostly something we carry, when we have not been forgiven. Or, until we are forgiven. Carrying guilt all along your journey is surely not the best idea. Rather, I would consider it as a failure to do something, and learn from it. It is perfectly OK to do it and fail again, as long as you keep trying not to fail the next time. I think my strength comes from never giving up – or never carrying the guilt. I’ve learned to take lessons from my failure and always try not to make the same mistake again. Unfortunately, it did happen that I had made the same mistakes over and over again, but I’m still trying not to do it the next time, and that keeps me strong to never give up in my career or in my life.
Publicly shamed anti-bullying activist
Monica Lewinsky is well known for The Lewinsky scandal, the American political sex scandal that involved 49-year-old President Bill Clinton and the then 22-year-old White House intern Monica. She does admit that she made the wrong choice by falling in love with the wrong person. But her problem was really not the love but the humiliation and public shame. Imagine your private conversations going online and, you, being judged by people from remote corners of this planet. What was private is not only public but has an endless lifetime. Your private conversations are on the internet even after you have died. Do you think you could still get a great life? 22 years later, at 44 years, she is now an American activist, television personality and a fashion designer. She would have never thought she would be an anti-bullying activist at the age of 20.
Whether you are just starting with your career, or progressing positively, what if we you are put into a public shame? Will you survive through your career or just give up on this world?