Speak. When you've hit the wall of exhaustion, one of the keys to recovery is to share your story. Discussing your pain, your mistakes, your questions will feel vulnerable. It might feel as though you're shining a direct spotlight on the very thing that you've been so desperately trying to hide. But if you have a person with whom you can share your whole heart with (not just the shiny, pretty parts) you will have taken one step closer to healing.
So what do I say? If you're used to pressing those hard feelings down, this action step may feel too scary. Because what if you don't have the right words? What if someone thinks differently about you? What if it makes everything worse? Those are valid questions that the voice of fear will rake across your mind over and over. The thing is, shame will continue to govern your life until you learn to speak.
"Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging." - Dr. Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW
When we choose to share our story with someone who is safe and trustworthy, we will often receive instant relief. It is key that you choose someone that can hold the weight of your story without trying to judge it or fix it. If this is a challenge for you, it might be worthwhile to seek the support of a therapist or mentor to guide you through this time in your life. The power of empathy is so strong that shame has a hard time sticking around in the light of being seen and heard by another person.
Lastly, take notice of how you speak to yourself. What is your tone like? Is it nurturing or harsh? Does this inner voice give you the sense that everything will be okay or do you feel like you're in big trouble? If your inner voice is unkind, try this experiment: speak to yourself like you would speak to a small child, or to your elderly grandma, or to a person that is dear to your heart. Tell yourself that it's going to be okay. Tell yourself that everyone makes mistakes. Tell yourself that you have the tools to figure it out. Tell yourself that no matter what, you are loved. Now how do you feel? Empathy and connection will be your superpowers, Use them.
Speak kindly to yourself; speak your story to a chosen friend. This is how we piece ourselves back together. Every time you tell the truth about your life, your burden becomes lighter. After the fall, we always rise.
©2023 Jennifer Padilla-Burger, LMFT. All rights reserved.
*Here is a video with Dr. Brené Brown and Oprah Winfrey discussing the type of people who do not deserve the right to hear your shame story.