Discover Your Worth! “What have you done?” he asked. The object of his accusation cowered in guilt. His shame kept his head bowed and his heart heavy. The lifeless body of his dead father screamed in judgment. There was no sufficient explanation to justify his involvement in the events that had just transpired. He could not face the consequences or himself, so he fled.
“Breathe,” I told myself—it’s just a scene from The Lion King! I watched it again this past weekend and like always, I cried. I may be past my cartoon years…but nobody ever gets past truth. It is a story of hope, triumph and responsibility. But it is also exposes the effects of shame. In the movie, Simba, a young lion cub is unwittingly used as bait to lead his father into a trap that would ultimately cost his life. But the burden of shame falls on Simba when his uncle asks, “What have you done?”
As I watched the scene, I thought about the questions that introduce shame to many of us each day. “Why aren’t you married?” “Your kid's not in that program?” “You can’t even afford that?”…and the questions go on and on. Often asked in innocence, there is the subtle intimation that what we’ve done, or where we are, isn’t enough.
Years ago, I didn’t attend my class reunion. I told my friends I was too busy. But, the truth was that I was too ashamed. I hadn’t achieved some personal goals and I worried that others would view me with the same disappointment that I viewed myself.
Like Simba, we can allow shame to bully us into hiding—abandoning our rightful place. Many of us are running from who we are and our purpose because of shame from past actions or because of what we view as our failures. But running doesn’t solve anything. As I consistently work to discover my worth, I realize that the only thing to be done with shame is to:
1. Acknowledge & Accept: Shame is a heavy emotion and the desire to avoid it is understandable. It occurs when we don’t separate our worth as individuals from our poor choices and actions. Freedom from shame is understanding the distinction between, “I made a mistake” and “I am a mistake!”
Until we make that distinction, shame can rule us. It will create distance in our relationships because of fear that others won’t love who we really are. The first step to dealing with shame is to accept ourselves. We are all a work in progress.
2. Share It: The strength of a secret is that no one knows it. When we keep our shame hidden, we give it power. Strip shame by sharing your struggles with a trusted friend, loved one or expert. We need the grace and truth that healthy communication provides. Grace patiently loves us as we are, while the truth demands that we express our full potential. Vulnerability is a risk that must be taken to be free from shame!
3. Normalize It: Part of shame’s strength is that we are convinced that somehow we’re unique. But everyone deals with the aftermath of bad decisions. If we would all dare to be honest, working through our shame together could be a point of connection and growth.
Do Your Work! Identify the shame-ridden areas of your life. Then schedule time with a trusted friend or expert to talk things through.
Define Your Weath! This week, affirm, “I am NOT the mistakes or choices I’ve made. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Recently named the “North America’s Next Greatest Speaker” by eWomenNetwork, Felicia T. Scott is a Certified Empowerment Coach™ who empowers her clients to turn their Worth into Wealth as she partners with them to DISCOVER their WORTH, DO the WORK and DEFINE their WEALTH. Get more insight, download the FREE “8 Choices Winners Must Make” seminar MP3 on her website.