Ministry Resources

How Shame is Shaping your Leadership

Author: Angela Craig

How is shame shaping your leadership?

“No one wants to talk about it. But everyone has it…unless you are a sociopath.” This was one of Brene’ Brown’s opening lines from her world renowned TED Talk, Listening to Shame.

Brene’ Brown defines shame as: “The intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.”

Shame can start in childhood, be passed down through generations, or happen in an instant through a simple word or experience.

Shame thrives in…

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Chronic illness
  • Poverty
  • Abusive relationships
  • Appearance & weight
  • Failure
  • Academia (Teacher to student & peer to peer)
  • Public correction, discipline, and criticism
  • Past memories
  • Disabilities
  • Fill in the blank ________________________

Shame is the voice that whispers who do you think you are.

Shame tells you – you are not good enough, you don’t have enough education or the right background to achieve your goals. Shame is the teacher that told you: “Girls should be seen and not

heard.” Or the care giver who said: “Being overweight, will never get you a date.” Shame is the voice of the parent who told their son to stop crying and be the tough guy. Or the Dad who said you had to have a title, a mansion, and a nice car to be “somebody”.

Shame confronts you at the door of your dreams with your past, your limitations, your social class, and even your gender.

  • For women – shame says: Do it all and do it perfect.
  • For men – shame says: Remember this one thing, Whatever you do, do not be perceived as weak.

Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Jung says, “Shame is a soul eating emotion.”

Brene’ Brown says, “The less you talk about it, the more you have it. Shame depends on an environment of isolation. Shame depends on me buying in that I am alone.”

Shame drives us.

It shapes how we filter information from others, how we communicate, and how we create community. Shame chooses our career path, our partners and our persona based on our experiences and what we want others to think about us.

What if we decided to live outside the boundaries of shame? What if we decided to live out our lives as our true selves, not our shame created personas?

How would our lives look different?

First, we would stop dwelling on the past and focus on our futures. Second, our lives would be centered on self-awareness. Blaise Pascal said: One must know oneself. If this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life, and there is nothing better.

Knowing who God created us to be is imperative to quieting the shaming voice that lives inside of each of us. We devalue ourselves and our purpose when we know innately who we are, but allow other’s opinions or shaming experiences to shape our existence and direction. The only true opinion that matters is our Creator. God is calling us to become who we already are.

Freedom from shame is found in living authentic lives shaped by God.

Third, we would live different by creating an environment of empathy and vulnerability for ourselves and those around us. Empathy is the cure for shame. “Empathy is the intention to show respect and honor for someone’s feelings, emotions, or ideas even if they are completely different than the listener’s. Empathy refuses to write someone’s story for him or her by telling that person how to feel or act. Empathy doesn’t tell someone how the person should feel.” (Craig, 2015) Empathy is the ability to say, me too.

Courage and creativity all come from the ability to be vulnerable and honest with yourself and with others.

Identifying and talking about the inner critic of shame is imperative to living a life of meaning and purpose in life and leadership.

Resources use for this blog:

Pivot Leadership: Small Steps…Big Change by Angela Craig

Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown

Overcoming Shame to Connect with Your True Self by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Listening to Shame – TED Talk by Brene’ Brown

Shame, Shame, Shame: How being yourself reduces feelings of shame. By Nathan A Heflick Ph.D.

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