The difference between guilt and shame is as simple as “I did something bad” versus “I am something bad.” Now here’s the interesting part: those individuals who have a sense of worthiness, of love, and of belonging, versus those who are always wondering if they’re good enough, are not those who have things like beauty, social status, wealth, rank in corporate hierarchy, or are living in the most beautiful cities in the world, in fact, what separates those who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it is that the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of it. That’s it. They believe they are worthy. And what contributes to them feeling worthy is feeling deeply and genuinely connected to, and really seen by a few individuals in their lives. And what allows us to be deeply and authentically connected to another? Vulnerability. Using our courage to show others who we are.
Now here’s the conundrum…. What keeps us from being vulnerable? Shame. That nasty little voice that tells us: “I am not good enough. I am something bad so I dare not show you the real me because you are likely to reject me.” And this is where it gets tricky. Shame is what makes us fearful of being vulnerable, of being connected, of being loved. BUT the most potent and effective antidote to shame is vulnerability. Using our courage to be vulnerable. Embracing vulnerability. Seeing vulnerability as beautiful. So, in a nut shell, shame makes us afraid to be vulnerable, but the a truly effective way to overcome our shame is to reveal ourselves as vulnerable… talk about the chicken or the egg.
Some how, some way we need to find and use our courage to be imperfect. To let go of fighting to be who we think we should be and just be who we are. It can be risky, and it’s definitely not always easy or comfortable, but it is absolutely necessary, and surprisingly, quite liberating and actually… quite beautiful.