Shame Triggers

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Welcome  I recently finished reading the book I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown.  While I can honestly say this wasn’t one of my favorite books, it still held some valuable information that I can apply to my own mental health wellness.  I think part of my issue was I didn’t fully understand the topic addressed in this book.  It turned out to focus on shame and how women are affected by shame in various ways.  If I were to allow myself to use this as a psychological tool for my own experiences, I could say, yes, I am impacted by shame in a variety of ways.  As I read the book, making the most of my time and money spent, I used the self-reflection questions from the book to better understand my own mental processes.  Maybe I could figure out what gets me to react so strongly or makes me incredibly frustrated or sad sometimes.

Food For Thought  How we react to shame determines a lot about our mood, behaviors, and choices.  We all react to shame in different ways and there are many different shame triggers.  What brings you shame may not be the same for me, and vice versa.  If you would like to check out the entire book for yourself, it is available from Amazon in this link.  Seeking some personal help from the book, I decided to journal through the reflection questions in the book.  I learned a lot about myself in the words I wrote down.  Here’s where we started:

I WANT to be perceived as a good mom, a good wife, successful, happy, and (embarrassingly honest) important.

I DO NOT want to be perceived as crazy, lazy, stupid, a deadbeat, or a hypocrite.

So what are the sources for these shame triggers?  Well, in my mind, the perception of lazy and deadbeat are synonymous with being unable to take care of my family.  So if I’m not working (I can barely call what I do working), am I also not being a good wife and mom, anymore?  For all you stay-at-home moms out there, I KNOW we work to manage the house and kids and such, so my definition of work appears to be directly tied with receiving income.  The perception of crazy and stupid means I’m also unable to take care of myself.  When I put them all together I feel like I’ve lost my independence, like I need others to take care of me.  So why does it bother me to have others take care of me?

I think my parents modeled this idea of independence, as in “you can’t depend on others to help you out, so be strong and take care of yourself, that’s called life.”  The idea that I can’t depend on others, unfortunately, has been reinforced over the years, especially recently, by the many people who have let me down.  This has only reinforced the shame trigger that if I’m “crazy, lazy, stupid, and a deadbeat,” then others have no use for me.  I’m only needed if I’m successful and important in some way.  These feelings and perceptions have a way of growing into gloom and full blown depression.

In addition to these sources, our society is heavily promoting the “independent woman” concept.  I’m supposed to be able to “do it all” in our modern society, without needing the help of others.  How dangerous!  I tried to be this person for a very long time and my life completely fell apart.  At that point I didn’t feel I was being a very good wife or mother.  I wasn’t successful at anything because my plate was too full.  And I certainly wasn’t happy.  I’m still trying to learn from those years and let some of that stuff go.

We’re talking a lot this week about when life gets hard, and this is hard.  We know what we want to be and what we don’t want to be.  We are also aware of what the world says we should be.  Many times, those two sets of expectations do not merge.  We become torn between the two and ashamed of the places and times we fail to meet the demands, self-imposed or not.

Here’s where my spiritual faith comes in.  I have to step away from the shame and the labels.  I have to learn to embrace who I am in Christ.  I need to accept who I am as God made me, fulfilling His plans and purpose.  I have to trust and believe that these things are bigger than my failures and expectations.  It comes down to how do I want God to perceive me and my actions.  What I want doesn’t matter.  What the rest of the world doesn’t matter.  I want my life to be a reflection of God’s love and mercy for me.  And there’s no shame in that!

Today’s Scripture  I have recently found comfort in this verse from the book of Isaiah.  There is quite lengthy commentary available on StudyLight.org to dive further into the meaning of this passage.  I am aware that this was written to the people of Israel and the terms “youth” and “widowhood” are metaphorical for their specific story.  But I also believe we receive words of wisdom and comfort from Old Testament right here, right now.  All of the matters that bring me shame and disgrace will be forgotten through my redemption in Jesus Christ.  My shame will fade away with the mist of the mountains.

Journaling is one of the best things I can do for myself when all of the labels, expectations, and shame begin to torment my mind.  Long before I ever thought I wanted to become a writer or started a faith and food blog, I was writing my thoughts and feelings in journals, practically since I was old enough to write.  I recommend journaling as an outlet for so many reasons.  I use it to make sense of the many thoughts that run rampant in my mind.  I use it to let go of what brings me stress and worry.  I use it as communication to God.  I use it as a tool of self-discovery and healing.  I even use it in the hopes that someday my words will mean something to the people I leave behind.  The beauty of writing in a journal is that it’s incredibly personal, but it can stay that way.  It never has to enter the electronic world of constant memory and sharing.  It doesn’t matter if my words come together coherently or not.  My written page is between me and the paper (and the Divine.)  It is really quite liberating.

If you are looking to start journaling or need a new one to continue your journey, here are a few recommendations:

Start Where You Are: A Journal for Exploration

“Be Still” Hardcover Wire-Bound Journal

“She Is Clothed With Strength and Dignity” Flex Cover Journal

“Beautiful In Its Time” Wire-Bound Journal

Oh, and don’t forget the pretty pens!

Bullet Journal and Planner Pens (18 Colors)

Taotree Fine Liner Sketch Pens (24 Colors)

journals and pens
I may just be a little journal obsessed!  And this is only a portion of my journals and pens!