Moving Right

Chuck slithered, his belly against the ground, his fur barely clearing the space between coffee table and his back.  Under the table, his front and rear legs stuck out the ends, and just the tip of his nose. 

“You crazy dog!” My friend stood, hands on her hips surveying the scene–a tipped mug and a coffee puddle by her feet, the result of enthusiasm (for me) shown through the wagging tail of her blonde Labrador Retriever.

I leaned down from my sitting position on her couch to peer under the table. Chuck’s head lay between his paws and his sorrowful, shame-filled eyes looked into mine. “It’s okay, buddy,” I whispered. “I know you were just trying to show you were happy to see me.” I hear his tail pump on the floor. “I make mistakes too, even when I think I’m doing what I’m suppose to do.” I stroke his nose.

Just recently I found myself slithering away from people too, after a misunderstanding of directions. Although not meant to harm, comments by others over my misdemeanour left me feeling raw, stirred my ‘not good enough’ gremlins. Shame washed over me like a tidal wave and caught me in its under current.

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Later, looking over Brene Brown’s shame resilience model from her book “I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t)”, I realized my wave reaction came from the left side of the model–blame, isolation, and shutting down. It took a day, a breathing space, baking my best chocolate chip cookies, and an empathetic conversation to move to the right, and come up from the depth into calmer seas again.

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Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough. Brene Brown

When the shame wave hits (and it does for all of us–it isn’t just you!), Brene breaks down into steps how we can deal with those feelings.

  1. Recognize the personal vulnerability that led to the feelings of shame
  2. Recognize the external factors that triggered the feelings of shame
  3. Reach out to receive the offerings of empathy. When we share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive. Brene Brown
  4. Express our feelings of shame and ask for what we want

I would add one more step, or maybe two to Brown’s prescription.

a) Take a moment to breathe in and think of all the things you do well, and maybe even are regularly complimented on. And then go do it. Maybe it’s baking your famous pie or cinnamon bread, making that bed like it’s in a 5 star hotel, brewing that perfect cup of coffee, taking photographs of your cat, setting that dinner table pretty like you do…

b) Start a Brag Journal or start writing your successes in a different colour pen in your regular journal so you can easily see them on those days you need to remind yourself you are good enough.

After we cleaned up the spill, and settled on the couch with a fresh cups of coffee, my friend scratched Chuck behind his ears as he sat and lay his head on her lap. “Oh you crazy dog, but I love you,” she tells him just as the door bell rings. We hold on to our cups tightly as he spins, his wagging tail brushing our legs, and then races for the door to do what he does best–greet one so they feel they are the most important person in the world.

And that’s worth a coffee puddle or two.

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8 thoughts on “Moving Right

  1. Lynn, I love this post. I’ve been slowly working my way through Brené Brown’s, “The Gifts of Imperfection.” She talks a lot about shame in this book too. It’s opened my eyes, and also helped me to see some of the ways my boys try to deal with (or stuff) the shame they feel. And yes, I’m seeing my own ways of dealing (or not) with it too.

    The one thing I’m working to remember when I feel “less-than” is that God’s grace is always available. When I mess up, when someone tries to make me feel small, His grace is enough.

    Thank you for sharing the four things to consider in learning how to deal with shame. These are key!

    Great post, friend.

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    1. Hi Jeanne, I really liked The Gifts of Imperfection. It’s still one of my top favourites of her book. What a great read too, to help understand your boys especially during these confusing years between boyhood and man! Yes, His grace is enough and I know I also have to remember to be that grace to others when their mistakes effect me. Happy Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your precious interaction with Chuck and your beautiful photos gave me heart smiles, Lynn. 🙂 I’m sorry those “not good enough gremlins” were attacking you, Lynn. They can be so persistent and upsetting, can’t they? Thanks for sharing some of Brene’s tips and your own about dealing with feelings of shame. (The second photo certainly shows the power of that shame.) All good reminders! I have watched videos of Brene, but I have never read one of her books, though I’ve had some on my Amazon wish list for quite some time already. Which of the ones you have read do you recommend the most? Thanksgiving blessings and hugs!

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    1. Hi Trudy, yes I need help with those ‘not good enough’ gremlins and thankfully we have His truth and grace to help! I’ve read almost all of Brene’s books, and my favourite is still the Gifts of Imperfection. It was one of her earlier ones, and the first I read of her books, and resonated with me the deepest. Hugs back to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Lynn! So many love Brene Brown, and what a talent she has! To be able to reach hearts like she does with simple, yet hard truth.
    I think we also have to think about how rational our thoughts are about mistakes sometimes too. Often we can invent problems where there just aren’t any. We love to take on too much, somehow blaming ourselves for what has no need. May God continue to bless us with true knowledge!
    Love your little whispers to your dog. I’d say the same thing,
    Ceil

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah yes, Lynn, this hits the nail on the head. Have had similar situations in the last year. Takes a bit to work through and regroup. Godly, eternal perspective always helps. Thank you for sharing. 🙂 It helps to know others have the occasional challenge too.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Lynn, I love Brene’ Brown. I listened and watched her at TED when she talked about “The Power of Vulnerability.” It is when she said that we cannot selectively numb our emotions, and shame is no exemption. We have to vulnerably feel it, then we come out beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That book was amazing. I think I could re-read it over and over again and find new valuable gems to consider. I hate shame. I think it is SO HARD to move beyond it, when it strikes hard. I love those steps you outlined and your additional ones are awesome. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all whisper what you did to ourselves? Our souls would soak it UP.

    Liked by 1 person

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