That's a loaded word, isn't it? So many of us feel shame on a regular basis. Shame is our constant companion. It follows us through our day to day life and we sometimes don't even realize it. Shame can come from a lot of places but if not dealt with it can absolutely hold us back from living the life we were created to live.
When you're dealing with shame you always feel like you're less than worthy. It has a way of creeping in and ruining what should be joyous occasions.
Maybe you don't feel like you're a good friend, spouse, sibling, maybe you haven't been to church in a while and not feeling worthy, maybe you're addicted to something, maybe you're fat. Whatever the reason, you're never enough.
Where does this shame come from anyway? Something someone has said to you? Something you've constantly said to yourself?
Somewhere along the way you started to believe you weren't good enough, that you're flawed in some way, or a lot of ways, that you're not worthy. And as crazy as it seems, I think after a while we start to use shame as a crutch. We hide behind our shame. We use it to explain other peoples' behavior toward us.
"No, they can't like me and it's okay because I'm fat, or ugly, or I'm a horrible friend, etc"
We also might use our shame to protect ourselves from the outside world.
I think shame can send us on a never ending cycle of self loathing. We don't value ourselves so we don't expect anyone to see our worth either. It's like we are projecting the hate we have for ourselves onto someone else. Before giving anyone the chance to form their own opinion, we're right in there making it clear that "it's okay that you don't want to be around me, be seen with me, it's okay that you bully me because I accept that I'm a piece of crap. It's okay for you to ignore me. It's okay because I'm too ugly, shy, fat, careless, or lazy"
We need to STOP it.
I'm a big believer in the law of attraction and if we keep letting these negative thoughts lead us, how far can we possibly get? What kind of people are we going to attract into our lives when we feed ourselves these lies about not being good enough.
Maybe we ARE fat.
Maybe we aren't the best parent.
Maybe we aren't the best looking.
So? Why does everything have to be a contest?
Confidence is the key to overcoming shame. Not caring what other people think and getting past caring so much, putting those voices inside your head to rest. The voices that say you're not good enough, you know the ones I'm talking about. How do you drown them out?
I guess you just do what you have to do and don't worry about it. It's scary as hell to think about but I don't see any other possible way. You have to expose yourself to situations that make you uncomfortable. You have to keep pushing forward even when you feel like everyone is laughing at you, looking at you with disgust. Keep going.
Whitney's TEDx Talk really spoke to me because she said something about confidence that totally hit home. She said Confidence comes from action. You don't all of a sudden wake up full of confidence one day and then everything is better. You build your confidence by facing things, taking things head on, realizing that the focus doesn't have to be on you. Inside our heads we are pretty important but in reality we're just a tiny blip. We barely register in the overall scheme of things.
No, I'm not saying we're insignificant or unimportant but we need to get over ourselves.
There are going to be times when we think we've done everything right but things still go wrong. That's life. There are too many variables in any given situation to keep placing all the blame on yourself.
There will be times when you give someone or something everything you have. You pour your heart and soul out, blood, sweat, tears... but it's still not enough.
Keep going. Don't let anyone determine your worth.
Listen to Whitney's TEDx Talk about Shame & Confidence.
Browsing through Facebook posts this evening I came across this certain text image that made me stop and think.
For days now I've had the feeling that someone out there somewhere is having a difficult time. Someone I'm connected to, maybe a reader of my blog, one of my pages on Facebook... I'm not sure but I can't shake this feeling.
And then this evening, I read this:
The automatic assumption of many is that EVERYONE has a "Home Team". It's assumed everyone has a support system to turn to when things get rough. It's a nice idea but unfortunately, it's not true. Not everyone has a home team to turn to. I know because I haven't always had one. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Maybe they've distanced themselves from friends over the years, maybe they have too much pride to reach out and ask for help. Maybe they're so introverted they really don't have any friends, or maybe they suffer from social anxiety so intense they've secluded themselves and shut everyone out. Maybe they don't even know how to begin piecing together a support system. It happens.
Movies and books often romanticize the loner persona. Honestly, there's nothing romantic about it. Being alone, feeling alone, especially when you need to reach out to someone, when you need someone to just listen or when you need a helping hand, well, it just sucks.
I tried to convince myself for the longest time that I didn't really need anyone but we're social creatures by nature. We might appreciate our alone time but there's that overwhelming instinct to congregate, to find our people, our tribe, our Home Team.
Needing other people isn't a sign of weakness, as some may think, it's simply natural. Don't be afraid to reach out. Of course it takes time to build a support system but there's nothing wrong with taking baby steps, being selective of who you choose to add to your circle. It's definitely a process but I'm glad I decided to take that first step.
I'm not sure how many of you are like me, but I've been doing some soul searching and have found out I still take a lot for granted. Not to say I don't appreciate what I have, but I'm sure I could be a little more thankful for all the good things I have in my life. I've been keeping a gratitude journal for a while and almost every day I write down things I'm thankful for, but still, I need to be more appreciative of the small things.
Upon realizing this, I decided to write down how I could go about embracing gratitude and thought I'd share it with you...
1. Acknowledge that being grateful is a decision
We have to choose to be grateful, there's no way around it. Being happy doesn't immediately cause gratitude to magically happen - sort of, it's the other way around - the more we're thankful for the things we have in life the happier we'll be.
So, being grateful is very much a choice we have to make for ourselves. No one can give it to us, we can't purchase it. We have to realize we're blessed with an amazing life that so many people would love to have. And as sobering as it is, I also realize there are people who didn't get to live to see today... I'm incredibly grateful I woke up this morning. Aren't you?
2. Appreciate the little things
Sometimes it's so easy to take things for granted just because they're sweet little bits of life that we've so grown accustomed to. Things like the ability to turn on a faucet and have clean water, having a warm pair of gloves to put on when we're going out into the cold... just little things that we probably don't give much thought but know that there are people out there who aren't so blessed. Remember to count all your blessings, even the very small ones.
3. Stop focusing on what you don't have
This has always been huge for me. Now, I'm not telling you to settle for what you have, shut your face and just be content, nah, not at all. What I am saying is that although it's great to strive for more don't lose sight of all that you're currently blessed with.
4. Take a good look at the world around you
This world is filled with people who are less fortunate. It's so easy to forget they exist and hyper focus on our little problems. Sometimes some of us may even think that their issues aren't our problem so why be concerned? I'm here to burst your bubble if that's what you think because it sure doesn't work that way. Everything and everyone in this world affects everything and everyone else in some way. We might not immediately realize the connection but it's there. We're all linked together, like it or not. Don't allow yourself to become self-centered and live in a vacuum. Break out of your comfort zone and walk a mile in someone else's shoes. Enrich your life by learning their stories, their struggles, their wants, needs, and how what you've been blessed with compares to what they have.
You know, it's funny how some of the most grateful folks are the ones who have the least, material wise. Ponder that for a while.
5. Imagine yourself with less
Write down some of the things you're thankful for and then imagine those things being taken away from you. Really let yourself feel the emotions of losing the things you cherish, big and small. Then allow yourself to feel the joy of each of those things being reintroduced into your life. For instance, imagine waking up one day having lost your eyesight. How difficult would it be for you to make your way around your home? Think about no longer being able to see the faces of the people you love. All those little things that are connected to your vision that you take for granted - gone. Dwell in those emotions for a while and then imagine suddenly regaining your sight. How joyful would you be to be able to see the beautiful colors of a sunset again? Or to see the beautiful, smiling eyes of your best friend?
All of these things can shift your focus from what you don't have to all the little things that add up to big things. Life doesn't have to be perfect in order for us to be grateful. It's an absolute choice.
Choose to be grateful. Our happiness depends on it.
Recently, I decided to go back to a business that I was an associate with back in the 90s. Even back then I knew Watkins was a solid opportunity but I let so many things (mainly fear of failure) stand in my way of success. First of all, for those who aren't familiar, Watkins is a more than 145 year old company offering a variety of products for life and home that are top quality. They also offer a business opportunity that allows you to choose your own hours and offers the flexible kind of lifestyle so many people desire.
One thing that everyone has to learn with Watkins is that an important part of success with the company is simply using their products in your own home. If you don't use something, become familiar with it, truly love that product, it's going to be more difficult to get others excited about trying it. Besides how can you sell something you can't stand behind?
If you visited the top Chevy dealer in your area and saw the owner drive home in a Ford, what would that make you think?
Would you buy hair growth tonic from a bald man?
Wouldn't you think twice about buying weight loss products from a morbidly obese salesperson?
Exactly. What's even worse, if you aren't a user of your own products, after a while you're no longer going to care about the business because you won't be passionate about what you're doing.
The same goes for personal development. You can read and listen all you want about different ways to improve your life but until you start practicing those things and going through the steps of making your life better, you probably won't have success.
Sure, you can absorb all that information but if your idea is to absorb it for later use "when it's more convenient" then you've got the wrong idea.
Why put off what you can start right now? Even if you just take baby steps toward improving yourself and your life why not start today? Do something every day that gets you excited... maybe even a little scared. Stop trying to be so careful about everything and just do.
Back to the Watkins thing for a minute... I was trying so hard way back when to do things perfectly that I didn't give it my all. I now realize I was being too careful. I was worried that if I didn't know everything about every single product I would make a fool of myself.
Watkins offers over 300 products and I thought I needed to learn every detail about each product before I could be successful? How foolish I was!
The key to being successful isn't complete and total knowledge, it's being able to share the excitement and enthusiasm you have for even just one product that you love.
That's right, even just ONE!
When you're passionate about something it just shows and then you can use that to your advantage.
So whether it's passion for a new business venture (or rekindled passion for an old one), or making your life the best possible through personal development, you need to be passionate about what you're doing, don't just read about what you should be doing - DO what you should be doing to get to where you want to be.
Baby steps... take small steps along the way. Don't feel like conditions have to be perfect before you get started because there will be no perfect time. Finding others who will support you 100% is another great way to be successful.
In the same way as the training site associated with J.R. Watkins, Timeless Integrity, supports its members with conference calls, a free prospecting website filled with all sorts of training materials, added incentives,etc. YOU need to seek out those who support you all the way in your journey. Believe in yourself enough to surround yourself with others who believe in you as well!
So in summary,
- Don't let fear hold you back
- Do what you need to do. Don't put it off!
- Take baby steps but take steps! Don't stand still.
- Don't worry about doing things exactly right or waiting for the perfect time.
- Find support. Be your own best cheerleader!
- Believe in yourself!
There are certain occasions when we are slapped right in the face with the fact that we're just not as young as we used to be.
Sometimes those moments sneak up on us when we least expect it and we're faced with the harsh realization that no matter how much we try to deny it, no matter how hard we're trying to fight Father Time, we're right smack dab in the middle of our lives and there's no turning back.
Remember how you cringed the first time you were called Ma'am or Sir, or when some young fast food worker gave you the senior citizen discount when you didn't ask for it? C'mon, do I really look like a senior citizen to a 16 year old? Wow. Anyway, there are some things that make us realize we're not spring chickens anymore.
1. Try doing a cartwheel.
Sometimes you have this sudden burst of energy and decide you're going to just go for it. Stop. Please. Unless you've been seriously staying in shape, one cartwheel could do a lot of damage. Trust me, I know. For the next few days I was sore in places I'd long forgotten about. On the plus side, nothing reminds you that you should be hitting the gym like mid-life gymnastics.
2. Watch some of your teen's favorite YouTube channels.
I'll admit, some of it is funny and mildly interesting but most of the time I'm just sitting there in horror or totally confused. No wonder my kids are so strange. Where do they come up with this stuff? It's like Jackass meets Dennis the Menace on crack. And the music! Screamo? Dubstep? One sounds like you've unleashed all the demons from hell and the other sounds like a robot having sex with a toaster in the washing machine. Ummm, yeah.
3. Pull an all-nighter.
Long gone are the days when we could party all night, get up the next morning and start all over again. It takes me almost 3 hours to function in the morning as it is. You may as well shoot me. I think I'm still recovering from my most recent all-nighter... from last year.
4. Play musical video games like Rockband or Guitar Hero.
My seven year old breezes through this stuff like he was born playing the game. I, on the other hand, get booed right off the stage. Yes, it's pathetic. My lifelong dream of being a rock star is fading fast. Guess I can donate my tiger-stripe spandex pants to Goodwill now.
5. Go to the store and buy beer and cigarettes.
It doesn't matter if you don't smoke or drink, buy the stuff anyway and see if they card you. They probably won't. The first time I didn't get carded I made the mistake of asking why. The young, pretty cashier with a glowing clear complexion and radiant blonde hair said to me, "Because you remind me of my mom". Okay, okay, so I am old enough to be her mom but still, damn. At least she didn't say Grandma.
6. Tune in to the oldies station on the radio.
Take a good listen. They're playing all your favorite songs from your childhood, teen years, and early adulthood. No kidding. How did this happen? I know it's hard to think of Paula Abdul's songs as oldies, but I'm telling you they are. Straight Up!
Though getting older can sometimes be distressing, it has its benefits. I mean, most of us are a lot more secure with who we are than we were 20 years ago. Hopefully, we're a lot wiser than we once were too. All in all, we're in a pretty good place in life right now and we have a lot to look forward to, including legit senior discounts and there's always Social Security (we hope).