There is no shame in failure, unless you let it be shameful.
The past few months I have spent lots of time reading about shame gremlins. Brene Brown has done a great job to explain what they are and why we all feel them (even when we don’t think we do).
Before I starting reading Brene’s work, I thought I had only felt shame once in my life. Turns out, I felt it a helluva lot more than that!
And its happening again today, the difference is, I know what I am feeling. Its the first time I have been able to identify and understand what shame is, why my body wants to curl in on itself and what I can do about it.
Brene defines shame versus guilt like this.
Guilt: I have done something bad.
Shame: I am bad.
Its one thing to read it and understand it from an intellectual perspective, its quite another to experience it at an emotional level.
It’s the stories we tell ourselves on the inside, the self talk (which is usually a whole lot meaner than anything you would say to me).
My self-talk the past day has been like this: Clearly I am bad at what I do and no one has told me; Who was I to think I could create a successful business; I just don’t fit in this world; I have tried to so hard and it isn’t getting any easier; and (the best one yet) I have to go back into the system, get a job and give up on my ideal of having work that fulfils me.
So that was my shame funk, it wasn’t pretty and felt even worse. But I took a chance and shared these deep shames with someone who cares about me. Not just at the surface, but the whole ugly truth of it. That helped so much but that wasn’t the turning point.
That happened when I realised that every successful person has failed at least once. That I can’t help my clients unless I have felt failure and recognised a shame attack. I thought about all the people that I was ashamed to tell that I was wimping out and I realised that they had probably been through the same thing at some point.
So today I acknowledged my failure. I embraced it. I recognised that I was unable to develop my business to a point where it would provide sufficient income, and thats okay. This is a bump in the road. This is the bottom of Seth Godin’s dip and the next move is mine. So I am out of money and its time to get a job. Cool. Let’s do it.
In my mind, getting a job seemed shameful. It felt like I was going backwards. Once again having to convince someone I want a job that isn’t a perfect fit. It means telling people that I couldn’t build a successful business.
Inside it feels like a hollowing, deepening pit, where the only option is to crawl into a cave and hide form the world. I tell myself I don’t do a avery good job of getting out of the system, bucking the trend and living life on my own terms.
But here’s the rub, if you don’t fail, you won’t know what its like. Everybody has failed at something, even all the entrepreneurs and successful coaches out there have struggled, gone through hard times and had failures.
So when I tell them that I have failed, that I have to go and get some work to tide me over, in return for my honesty and vulnerability I expect understanding, empathy and respect in return. (If they don’t pony up, then they probably weren’t worth knowing in the first place).
To acknowledge failure and to make a change is better than losing the house and running out of food.
Its only feels shameful if you let it.
Are you letting shame stop you from moving forward or making a decision that counts?
Be inspired by Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and feel free to message me. 🙂