Updated: Sep 7
In the last 24 hours I’ve found myself wishing more than anything to go into my closet and hide behind my hanging clothes. Like I would do as a kid when I got in trouble or made a mistake and didn’t want anyone to look at me.
To duck out. To have a significant amount of time where no one could see me, and I could just sit in the silence and pretend to not exist. It sounds dramatic, but it’s my defense mechanism for overwhelming emotion that doesn’t feel great; that has me questioning myself and what I’m doing.
The next defense mechanism is to blame.
It’s human nature to want to figure out what’s wrong— to figure out where the problem is, and to shy away from pain. And blame feels slightly less horrible than shame, so we turn to blame in order to get out of the overwhelming discomfort that accompanies shame. We go from feeling shame, thinking something is wrong with us, to feeling blame and anger, that something must be wrong with the world, or the people around us who might have hurt us.
Because if something is wrong with them, then that means nothing is wrong with us. And we find some relief there. However, we’re left with feelings of anger and resentment and all the other feelings that come along for the ride with blame. We show up with that hostility towards our friends and loved ones, or toward the world around us. Is that how we want to be showing up either? An interesting idea to ponder.
How do we get out of this trap then? First and foremost, remember that shame can’t actually hurt you. Blame, too. They don’t feel good, that’s true, but maybe it’s not supposed to. Maybe we can handle the discomfort of shame and blame, while reminding ourselves that we aren’t wrong. Nothing has gone wrong because we’re feeling these emotions. We can let them be there, to wash through us, to tell us what they need to tell, and just watch them.
Our thoughts create our emotions, not what happens around us— not people or things or events. We do. It’s all us my friends. We are having thoughts about what happened or what someone did or said, and those thoughts trigger feelings of shame and blame (and every other emotion!). So begin to get curious about what thoughts are triggering shame for you.
Shame almost always comes from some version of “I’ve done something wrong,” or, “something is wrong with me.” Somewhere along the way we pick up these ideas that there’s a right way to be, a specific way of being so we can belong and do according to what’s right in this world or what’s right according to the people around us.
And that’s where shame hides... in that one right way. Because there’s a million right ways. It doesn’t mean you won’t get it wrong, or won’t do or say the wrong thing— but getting it wrong doesn’t mean YOU are wrong. It means you are human. Going about your own right way.
You won’t be for everyone, and that’s ok. You just need to be for you.
And just remember that shame is lying to you. You don’t need to hide. You aren’t wrong or messed up in any way because sometimes you’re wrong or sometimes you mess up. You are imperfect, and that’s perfectly how you should be. Continuing on your own right path, doing what’s right for you, even when you get it wrong sometimes.
And guess what, the same applies for everyone else. All these thoughts we think that lead us to shame, are the same thoughts we think around others that triggers blame.
We believe there’s one right way, and the world is doing it wrong— that other person has done it wrong. So therefore, they must be wrong.
The love and understanding I’m urging you to feel for yourself to get out of shame, is the same love and understanding I’m urging you to utilize for others to get yourself out of blame also.
Not everyone will be for you, and that’s ok. They just need to be for them. Blame is lying to you. They aren’t wrong or messed up because sometimes they get it wrong or mess up. They are imperfect, and that’s perfectly how they should be. They can continue down their own right path, doing what’s right for them, even when they get it wrong sometimes.
And when we choose to believe that we are good even when we mess up, even with others mess it up, we find that understanding. You can choose to believe that, you know? We get to choose everything we believe. Our beautiful brains get to decide how we see and view the world. And when we CHOOSE to show up with that understanding, and think and speak kindly to ourselves and others—we forgive the shortcomings that inevitably come with every human on this earth. And that understanding will turn to peace. That peace will turn to love.
And when we choose to feel love, we show up as our best selves. We create results that blow us out of the water. And we get to experience life through the lens of love— and we all know, love is truly magical.
So when you find yourself in the shame/blame game, remember your thoughts and feelings can’t hurt you. Notice them. Allow them to be there. Let them speak what they need to say. And CHOOSE your next path. Choose what you’re going to believe about those thoughts and feelings. Show up with love and compassion for you, for your friends and loved ones, and for the world. Because when you choose to show up with as much love and compassion as you can, you are always the one who benefits most.
**I help my clients work through the shame/blame trap and show up with understanding, compassion, and love. Click below to sign up for a FREE session and I will help you navigate through shame and blame.
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