Are you suffering from a shame spiral? Here are my tips on how I escape from one. – Brodie Welch
How do you feel when your actions don’t line up with your intentions?
For me, it’s a huge source of shame, and I’ve been in a bit of spiral about it lately.
Here’s what it looked like for me:
- I let months go by without writing a newsletter or blogpost — even though I’m producing and giving away awesome information for free by podcasting weekly on everything from focus and productivity to hormonal health to emotional eating, plus treating patients, coaching, parenting, etc.
- At least once a day, I told myself of my failure to write as proof that I’m not doing enough. Even though I would never say that – or even think it – about anyone else in the same situation.
- I let this daily shaming reinforce a deep, old belief that I am not enough –even though on a conscious level, I reject this and am a vocal critic of our cultural obsession with Doing over Being as fundamentally flawed.
- I judged myself as a hypocrite because of #3.
- I allowed that old sense of not-enoughness reinforce my resistance to writing to you –even though this newsletter only goes to people who have asked to be on it — because what if you don’t like it? You could mock me, exile me from the tribe, and then I’ll die, according to my subconscious.
- I let the residue of #5 contribute to numbing out behavior like overeating and mindless web surfing to comfort myself.
- I let the numbing-comforting behavior #6 perpetuate the downward spiral of steps 2-7 — same steps, different content.
Why am I sharing this with you?
Because as shame-and-vulnerability researcher Brene Brown observes, being willing to share our shame is part of how we dissolve shame.
But owning up to what I’m ashamed of not only helps me. It also helps you.
At least, it might if you’ve ever judged yourself harshly for not getting enough done.
Or if you’ve allowed one regrettable thing trigger avoidance: like if you’ve ever said something overly harsh to someone, and then avoided that person rather than owning up to it and moving through it quickly.
Speaking shame is actually a service. It helps other people feel less alone.
This is one of the most powerful things about my Level Up community: when one person has the courage to get real about where she’s struggling, it allows everyone else to exhale an “OMG me too.”
Compassion overflows for the person who’s struggling – that person receives the compassion that she hasn’t been able to provide for herself.
That compassion shows the person struggling that she’s not alone, that she’s not going to get kicked out of the tribe, allows her nervous system to calm down enough to examine the source of shame objectively. And we can get strategic about charting a path through it. Meanwhile, everyone else gets to look into their own Shadows and mine them for fuel for their own next breakthrough.
Identifying shame and making peace with it is part of how we heal our shadow issues: the dark, murky, unconscious stuff from the past that undermines how we want to act in the present.
Owning our shame also helps increase our resilience to being derailed by it in the future.
Which means we not only get to stop feeling the yuckyness of shame, but we prevent the negative behaviors we engage in when we’re suffering from it.
Here’s my take on How to Escape a Shame Spiral:
- Notice when shame is at work. A practice of reflection and cultivating mindful awareness, like meditation, qigong, or journaling is key.
- Investigate the source. What story are you telling yourself? Is it valid?
- Recognize that you’re human, doing the best you can. Make your expectations of yourself humane.
- Extend yourself the same compassion you would offer a friend.
- Tell someone. Speak your shame. Remember, this helps everyone!
- Forgive yourself for being imperfect, like everyone else.
- Affirm what you know to be More True than the belief that took you down, if applicable. (“I am worthy of love regardless of my productivity,” for example.)
- Do something to amplify that deeper truth (Yesterday, I went out for coffee with friends after yoga–ON A WORKDAY!)
- Take action to bridge the gap between your values and reality. Notice that this is step 9, not step 1. I don’t think we can take action without first breaking down why we haven’t, because shame is so stagnating and shadowy.
If you’re carrying around shame, and letting it perpetuate exactly the wrong things, I can guarantee you’re not alone. I can help you. Click here to see if we’d be a good fit to work together.
Is it time to put yourself at the top of your own to-do list and start embodying self-respect?
What would that even look like? You’d get enough rest, eat, move, breathe, and connect in ways that honor your being, not just your doing.
You’d set boundaries to have more time for what matters most. You’d feel less stressed, more calm and confident. You’d feel lighter and more comfortable in your body. You’d experience more joy And leading by example, you’d help everyone around you do the same.
This is what we do in my Level Up group.
I believe that you have the RIGHT to take care of yourself, and that self-care is not only not self-ish. It’s essential to your ability to show up for your family, and your work in the world as the best version of you.
It’s also essential change a culture, being the change we want to see. It’s hard to go against the grain of an entire culture by yourself; it’s much easier in a community.
If you’re ready to start honoring your being (not just your doing), check out my Level Up page to see if joining this life-changing community is a good fit.