Five simple letters.
One complicated word.
For many of us, shame has been a constant companion for as long as we can remember.
It has been the thing we try to avoid at all costs.
You probably know the feeling.
Something or someone reminds you of some mistake from your past and suddenly shame washes over you, turning your stomach into knots, leaving your cheeks red with embarrassment, and making the air around you thick with regret.
When it hits, you want to run away, wash the feeling away, hide from the world until it is gone.
But, maybe some of that shame is misplaced.
I’ve carried shame around with me tied to so many mistakes I’ve made and one in particular hit me like a ton of bricks the other day.
All at once I was back there — remembering what it was like to be a teenager caught making a mistake.
Until last week if you had asked me about that day, I would have felt nothing but shame --
because that’s how I was told I should feel about it.
And so the teenage version of me all those years ago filed that experience away as something about which I should feel deep shame — until last week when I looked at the incident through the eyes of someone who is now parenting teenagers.
Yet again my perspective on life shifted as I settled into another new phase of parenting.
It turns out the shame was wrong.
The shame was misplaced.
The shame had no purpose other than to make me feel badly about myself and keep me tethered to an impossible quest for perfection.
And for the first time in my life, I gave myself permission to re-evaluate the feeling of shame.
Listen friend, just because someone tries to give you the label of shame or just because a younger version of yourself accepts that shame, it doesn’t mean you have to keep it.
You can always re-evaluate.
You can always choose to peel yourself out of the shame, release yourself from its thick grasp, and step forward into a forgiving space — a space where mistakes don’t have to equal shame and embarrassment.
And so I stepped out of the weighty prison of shame and left it behind.
What if you gave yourself permission to release some of the shame you’ve been carrying around?
Now, more than ever, we all need a little support to help get us through the rough spots. With all the pressures of life, it can be a challenge to find time to not only take care of yourself but also to truly understand who you even are anymore.