In Monday's blog post, I wrote about beating oneself up and why it's important to stop that behavior. I also promised that today would be a post on letting go of shame.
Our world has a huge problem with shame and guilt. I’ve been guilty of it, too. But having gone through some tough things in life and having dealt with others who have tried to shame me or to guilt me into doing something (or not doing something), I’m able to recognize the toxicity of those behaviors very clearly now.
So much of shaming behavior comes from a place of insecurity - of putting other people down because you aren’t aware and/or can’t take responsibility for your own emotions. Hurt people hurt people, and shaming behaviors are manipulative. They’re used to get someone to do something you want them to do instead of respecting that person's own choices.
I try really hard not to use words like “should” or “shouldn’t,” especially in a negative context. But it’s hard. I believe people should do more things that make them happy - as long as they’re not hurting others - but I also recognize that the implication of the word “should” attempts to take away someone’s choice in the matter. People don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do, and for some people - as hard as it is to believe at times - happiness is a terrifying thing.
Human beings are just as afraid of success as they are of failure. Success and failure are two sides of the same coin of change, and most human beings love the comfort of the status quo. That’s why people choose the jobs and the relationships that they do. And there’s nothing wrong with the status quo. The status quo is a happy life for a lot of people!
The issues begin when someone decides to place a judgment on another person’s choices. You don’t have to agree with someone else’s actions, you don’t have to repeat someone else’s actions, and you don’t have to dub someone else’s actions as “wrong” just because they're not right for you.
I think people would be happier if they stopped living their lives by other’s perceptions and validation. A lot of shaming takes shape due to a rigid, perceived definition of the subject being shamed. But no person is any one thing. We all take on different roles in our personal and professional lives, we all have different jobs and tasks to perform on any given day, and we all have different life experiences that inform our perceptions of the world.
No one sees the world the exact same way as anyone else because no two people live the same exact life. That’s why we connect with certain people and not with others. Sometimes people just see the world too differently, and that’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with seeing the world differently if it leads to healthy conversation and understanding. But the minute someone’s ego steps in and starts trying to dictate whose perception is “right” and whose is “wrong” is the minute things start to turn ugly.
Once that guilt-tripping and shaming beings, it creates a disconnect in listening and communication. That disconnect is pretty difficult to repair because it then becomes an issue of broken trust, which stems from feelings of a lack of respect.
No one knows how to live better than anyone else. We’re all making it up as we go, which is why people get involved in different kinds of communities and have different role models. One role model isn’t any better than another role model because so much of what one uses to define a role model comes from a personal perception of the world.
I had a great conversation with my brother the other day about his goals and my goals in life, which was really helpful and came at the right time. He and I both excel at self-accountability, but it is nice to have a buddy to check in with from time-to-time who shares the same sort of passion for entrepreneurial pursuits.
We chatted about what our perfect futures looked like at our current point in time in our lives, and although my answer wasn’t the typical answer many women my age give, my brother didn’t judge it in the least and instead celebrated my hopes and dreams. My brother is one of my best friends, so obviously I’m biased, but I wish more people were like that: accepting and encouraging.
Everyone in life has her own path. I’ve always been someone who marched to the beat of my own drum, and I’ve always been one to shy away from people who try to hinder that progress. I also understand that my version of a perfect life does not apply to anyone but myself. It might look similar to other people, and the other people who grasp what I’m trying to communicate without judging it are the people I want to surround myself with. And for those people who do judge, guilt, shame, or try to manipulate you, just remember that those behaviors are usually based in that person’s insecurities. Be as kind and respectful as you can be while creating distance.
Life is a beautifully complex and, at times, confusing journey. Don’t try to drag people along with you or shame them into going your way. Everyone has a path that is all his own; let him take it. And while you’re on your own path, surround yourself with other people who want to walk alongside you. Or in my case, skip alongside you while you break into song.
Thank you so much for reading, and, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further with me, feel free to subscribe below or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m so grateful you're here and that I’ve been getting a lot of really challenging questions and even better feedback from a community all over the world. I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU! I’m here for you, and I love hearing from you, too! You’re the best, and you have everything you need inside of you! Please believe it! Starve your ego, feed your soul - and follow your heart!