Hey, remember that one time I committed to writing two new blog posts each month and then the month of May happened? Yep. I could begin writing out a long list of excuses as to why I haven’t been keeping up with my blog like I had originally intended, but the truth is, they’re just excuses.
It may sound like I’m being a little critical of myself, right? I agree. While it seems silly that I would beat myself up about not sticking to my writing plan, I believe if we really got honest, we all tend to be critical of ourselves in a lot of ways, even daily. When that little voice inside our head starts getting critical, I think it’s worth our attention. Why are we feeling guilty or sometimes shameful? Could we reexamine those emotions and take back some of the power they have over our lives?
The wise Brene Brown explains in her book, I Thought I Was the Only One But I’m Not, the difference between guilt and shame. Let me give you an example.
Guilt: I feel bad that I didn’t meet my goal of writing two blog posts this month.
Shame: I am a failure. I can’t meet any of my goals.
Do you see the difference? Guilt focuses on an action, shame focuses on the identity of a person.
In an effort to build up ‘shame resilience’, another term coined by Brene Brown, she suggests ‘speaking your shame’. When we choose to voice a situation, or action that we are tempted to feel shameful about, it begins to lose its power over our lives and over what we think, believe and say about ourselves.
So, the next time you do something silly or embarrassing or you find yourself in a situation that feels weird or hurtful, pick up the phone and call a trusted friend. Tell them about the situation and explain to them that you needed to ‘speak your shame’ so it won’t have power over your life.
In college, a close friend said some hurtful words to me. The label they gave me wasn’t true, but because this person was so close to me, their words stung more than I like to admit. I began feeling really shameful about it, and honestly wondered if the words they said were actually true of me. It took me years to speak my shame to another trusted friend. I had been replaying this conversation over and over in my head and I didn’t realize how much it had impacted me. After I audibly heard myself tell the story of this shameful interaction, it lost so much of its power. Don’t get me wrong, it was still hurtful, but I began realizing that this person’s opinion of me doesn’t actually define me. So much healing came from speaking my shame.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about grace. Giving other people grace and giving ourselves grace. We were talking about the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians 5: 22-23 and how frustrating it can be when we see ourselves failing to be kind, loving, patient etc.. She challenged me to think about what a piece of fruit looks like when it’s just starting to grow. It’s easy to be critical of ourselves and others if our expectation is a fully mature, ripe piece of fruit, but why do we have that expectation of ourselves?
We are all on a journey. Some seasons we grow, but in some seasons all we can do is hang on for dear life.
If we are committed to clinging tightly to Jesus in every season, we can be sure that we’re on our way to becoming mature, spirit-filled, peaches. If I were a piece of fruit, I’d definitely want to be a peach.
Take some time today and reflect. Is there any label someone else has given you that you feel shameful of? Is there a situation from your past that you have let define you for way too long? Find a trusted friend and say it out loud, not over text. Pick up the phone and call them, or better yet, do it in person. It might sound scary but I promise it’s worth it.
Do you need to give yourself some grace? Or maybe, you need to extend grace to someone else. We’re all on a journey, friends. Choose to see the best in others and choose see the best in yourself.
Be encouraged, friends.