Today we will continue our discussion of how curiosity can help us conquer shame.
This is part 2 of this series.
If you missed part 1, I would suggest you take a moment and CLICK HERE & then continue with part 2.
Before we get started, as a reminder, here is the definition of shame:
"a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior"
I came across a story in a book entitled, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford.
Here is what Steven heard as a five-year-old boy from his father:
“What kind of man are you going to make? You are nothing but a little wimp, you are an embarrassment to our family.”
Because he was afraid to go on a pony ride.
He had never seen a pony before and was scared of this big animal.
Imagine the shame he felt from being scolded in front of everyone…
Have you ever had a moment like that before in your life; a moment that you felt shamed?
Could have been a parent, a coach, a sibling, a bully, a relative, neighbor, or friend gone bad…
I remember being told once, at about age 10, “You don’t have what it takes to be successful.”
Depending on who makes these accusations/prophecies, and how much credibility the speaker has with you, (especially at a young age), it can rock your world at its very core and leave you rocked and speechless.
For both Steven and myself, we decided in that moment of shame, that we were going to spend the rest of our lives working to prove them wrong.
How does one go about that?
I tried everything – Accomplishments, Awards, Achieving Success, etc.
HOW CURIOSITY CURES
One day Steven, who had grown up to be a successful business consultant, was attending a one-day seminar.
He was distracted by this one guy who was there that he could not stand.
When asked what he did not like about the man, he thought for a moment, and then said, “He is a wimp and I hate wimps.”
That was when it dawned on him & he remembered and told that story of his father’s scolding that day when he was afraid to get on the pony...
Steven was asked, “Is there any area of your life where you are still a wimp?”
He admitted being a wimp when it came to his relationships with women.
Then he was asked, “What is the good thing about being a wimp.”
He was taken back by that comment.
He responded with a look like, “What are you crazy? How could something I have run from my whole life and worked to escape have any good in it?”
But then, Steven remembered a time when being a wimp probably saved his life.
He was in college, he and a few friends had gotten together and done some heavy drinking.
After a few hours, one of his friends suggested going to a party across town.
Steven was scared, so he made up a lie and did not go with them.
Two hours later, they went off the road and one of his friends died and the rest were seriously injured.
As this memory came to mind, Steven was shocked – it was like he had blocked this out of his mind and now he was realizing how it really did save his life; being ‘wimpy’.
Being wimpy had made him a cautious man, kept him out of fights, and saved him from all kinds of trouble.
When asked about how he felt about being a wimp after this conversation, his face lit up.
He embraced it.
He saw how this aspect of himself had been valuable many times. He could now be proud of it.
The shame and pain disappeared.
His new perspective empowered him.
“We do not have any say about the events of our lives, but we do have a say over how we interpret them” ~ Nietzsche
HOW TO EMBRACE YOUR OWN STORY
This story about Steven made me think of my accuser and their statement about me not having the success factor.
How could that be a good thing?
Although tough at first, here is what I was able to come up with:
Because I didn’t think I had ‘IT’, I have spent my life trying to find ‘IT’; that success factor.
If I would have thought that I had ‘IT’, maybe I would have never:
Sought after God and become a Christian
Asked how to be a good husband
Asked about how to raise up respectful children
Asked how to have a loving family
Asked how do I manage my priorities, stay healthy, live a values-based life
Asked how do I help people more effectively, serve more wholeheartedly
This has been very recent, but I too, like Steven, am learning to embrace this nemesis, this enigma of ‘not having it’ and realizing that there is a ‘good’ side to it; it has made me very curious.
It keeps me asking and learning!
What statements or thoughts of yourself have caused you shame (or caused you to feel pain) in your life?
Whether they are true or not, get curious for a moment.
What could be ‘good’ about that thing, quality or attribute?
How might you be able to embrace it? Own it? Be grateful for it?
Let me know how this goes – would love to hear from you
Get Curious & Overcome Shame,