This is the mantra of shame researcher Brené Brown.
Whenever doubt creeps in, or pride or blame, she repeats it to herself.
Indeed, what is the difference between getting it right and being right, and what does it have to do with shame?
The difference between doing and being is that one describes our behaviour, and the other our self.
So when we do not get it right (and are aware of it), there’s a few possibilities for our feelings:
- We feel helpful guilt. Guilt corresponds to an action, e.g. what I did last night was wrong.
We can work with guilt because we can learn from behaviour and change our actions.
Guilt is not terminal. After taking accountability and seeking forgiveness, we can easily move on from this guilt.
- We feel unhelpful guilt. This is still linked to actions: forgetting names is horrible.
Here however, the guilt is exaggerated and unjustified compared to the behaviour.
We can become struck in guilt if we do not amend our beliefs.
- We feel shame. Shame is guilt’s insidious sibling and is linked to identity: I am worthless.
Scared of rejection, we self-isolate to avoid negative feelings.
Once damaging ideas have been internalised, it is much harder to rework them.
It is also much harder to change ourselves compared to changing behaviour.
Shame and addiction are inherently linked, and shame also pops up in trauma survivors.
“Shame corrodes the very part of us
that believes we are capable of change.” – Brene Brown
Once you have identified unhelpful behaviours, do not let them fester!
By practicing self-compassion with meditation and looking for connection with peers we can heal this behaviour.
Toxic shame usually originates in our childhood (what doesn’t?), and it can be helpful to pinpoint why we feel this way.
As a child, we quickly believed whatever we were told about us, but we don’t have to anymore!
Try changing your internal narrative:
Instead of jumping straight to blame and shame, ask yourself with curiosity:
Why did I do that?
Our personality needs to grow now that we’re older and move on from the past.
Even if you can’t see it yet, you are full of wonder and worth!