Shame, shame, shame…shame of fools

I’ve been leading a lot of discussions on vulnerability lately.

In preparing for them, I went down a few productive rabbit holes (as opposed to mole holes which just tear up my backyard.)

One rabbit hole was Brené Brown’s stuff, especially a Ted Talk on the Power of Vulnerability. It still stands up so strong (okay, it’s not that old). She says that vulnerability is being willing to let go of who you think you should be in order to be who you are. And she goes on to explain that the reason vulnerability is so hard is that it is tied to one of most people’s biggest fears: shame. If other people knew this – X – about me, they’d know that I’m not worthy.

It’s the shame part that I want to talk a little more about today. It’s such a human thing, isn’t it? It’s certainly pervasive. We all feel some level of shame, that “oh, if they only knew the truth about me” thinking, and the stories that we tell ourselves to support the shame. We tell a lot of lies and call them “the truth about me”, don’t we?

And did you catch that connection…I almost missed it. Shame is a type of fear.

Shame makes me really angry, because it is such a waste. It’s stealing. We are stealing from other people, and ourselves. We assume that they won’t accept us, so we keep our true selves hidden and we are stealing their ability to know us and their choice to accept us. And we are stealing our own opportunity to live a life as simply ourselves!

Of course, there ARE people out there who will judge us, who won’t accept us, and who don’t want to connect with us. I’m sure there are people out there who don’t like me and think I’m an absolute idiot. And I don’t really care because they aren’t my people. I don’t want to become a thief just to make them happy.

Shame and shoulds go in the same pile as far as I’m concerned. Of course, that’s easy to say. It takes some work to put them in the pile and leave them there. I think it’s work worth doing, personally. Who you really are is way, way, way more lovable than who you think you should be. Really. Truly.

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light in the pages,


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  1. Chris May 5, 2024 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you for this post, Maggie, on a very important topic. It’s one I’ve struggled with since my wife shared with me once (years ago now) that Dr. Phil challenged a person on air by declaring their shame came from their consciousness of wrongdoing. First of all, as if he could possibly know that. (Yeah, yeah. I get that it’s TV.) Second of all, I still disagree and would love it if you further explored this topic. Yes, I have those things that I’ve done that I’m ashamed of and I can believe it’s a healthy shame about doing what I know is wrong. And I understand that the odd individual here or there who doesn’t like me is easily and readily dismissed. My biggest questions are these. 1. What about the social impact of being human? Disapproval could mean being ostracized, which would not be wise to knowingly invite. 2. Couldn’t shame also come from consciousness that OTHERS think (or will do, once they find out) what I’ve done is wrong and, further, judge me for it? Isn’t there a certain shame, and yes, fear – legit fear – in being on the outside of the group? It is one thing to know who you are, to be open with yourself, and be comfortable. It is quite another to publicly embrace and express all of those things and feel ‘consequences be damned.’ Maybe one reason shame is so pervasive is that we’re part of a larger unit and we feel its power. It’s a tricky (seductive, delusional, misleading) thing for any individual to take responsibility whether for the cause (“I did X wrong”) or the cure (“I won’t be ashamed”) for what essentially flows from group consciousness, our undeniable heritage as social creatures.


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