Finding resilience*

burn_mark.jpg
cookie sheet carpet burn, Canon Rebel Xti

A little light bulb went off for me recently. A sign of progress, an aha of growth, a rare moment of seeing that all this inner work we do can pay off.

Several months ago, I read Brene Brown’s incredible book, I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power. One of the pieces that struck me the most was the distinction between guilt and shame. Said simply, the self-talk for guilt is “I did something bad.” The self-talk for shame is, “I am bad.”

If you tend toward the I am bad, you are probably shame-prone. I definitely fall into that category and after reading her book I started to notice the small ways that this would show up for me. For example, when I would make a mistake like spilling something on the floor, my inner dialogue could go something like this, “You’re so stupid! What were you thinking? Idiot!!”

The other night I was cooking with a friend and as I went to put the heavy dish of lasagne into the oven I noticed a cookie sheet that had been stored inside. Drat! I thought, picked it up with my free hand and searched for a place to put this now blazing hot cookie pan down. Since there was no counter space left in the kitchen, I set it down on the living room floor and finished putting the lasagne in. Then I promptly forgot about it.

An hour later I went to retrieve it and noticed something alarming. The pan had melted the carpet into a perfect, cookie sheet size burn mark. I touched it. It was hard, like plastic is hard. I frowned realizing what I had done, but I didn’t go to all of the places where I would normally go. In my mind was a calmer sense of, ah well, that sure is a bummer, isn’t it? Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but what are you gonna do?

Where normally I would have crafted a better story for my husband, my landlord, my friends who have been gasping at the sight of it, I have been telling the truth in a really uncomplicated way. “Yeah, I put a hot cookie sheet on the floor. Who knew carpet was made of plastic?”

I’m noticing that the truth is not so bad. What’s hard are the untruths we tell ourselves every day. You are stupid, you are incompetent, you are not enough…. That is the painful stuff.

I’m so glad I am working with these lessons now, so that Ben might not have to witness me berate myself over and over and might have more compassion for himself and his own foibles. It really is possible to become more shame resilient, and for me it began with simply having the language for shame. This is one of the many gifts of Brene’s work.

If you haven’t read this book already, or even if you have, I urge you to go to her site and do the read-along with her. (It started on Monday) She even has a podcast to go along with it. Give a listen.. this stuff will change you in the most profound ways.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

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23 Comments

  1. Joy

    Thank you. I needed to hear this at the perfect time.

  2. dilys

    what a wonderful, hopeful story! thanks for sharing your heart.
    dilys

  3. Sue

    It’s amazing how timely your posts can be. I feel the same as Joy — this couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks for your willingness to share, and your very thoughtful and considerate insights!
    Glad Ben is back to his old self !

  4. Anna

    as always — sending you much appreciation and gratitude for your willingness to share and your ability to know just what your readers need!

  5. amy

    thank you so much for sharing this story, your wise reaction and your experience with Brene Brown’s work. i will have to explore that further.

  6. Jacki

    This post is so very refreshing and inspiring.
    Somehow I already knew that carpet was made of plastic but I can’t remember how I knew that. My favorite is when I realized that fingernail polish remover melts the finish off the dining room table.

  7. Jakki

    its so crazy but i talk that way (negative)to myself but would never allow anyone else talk about themselves that way….

  8. Puanani

    Amen.

  9. Sheila

    I never thought of the distinction before, but it makes so much sense.
    My self-talk is often like watching a scary movie… It’s awful to witness. But it’s something I can totally change.
    Thank you.

  10. emily

    this is just what i needed…thank you. xo

  11. Jackie Zepeda

    Hi Andrea…I ordered that book a couple of days ago, I think all of us women need a book like this. BTW I just ordered another one of your necklaces 🙂 Thanks!

  12. Laura

    I have a tendency to trip and run into things. My inner dialogue used to be “I’m such a freakin’ moron, why can’t I walk like a normal person, I should just stay inside, I’m such an embarrassment” (etc., etc.) And, then, just like you said, I had this moment of recognizing what I was doing and I decided to make a conscious shift in my reaction. Now, when I trip, I laugh at the silliness (especially when I trip over something tiny or just sort of topple over) and enjoy the humor in the moment and have a good laugh and go about my day. What a different feeling! 🙂

  13. Lauren

    I definitely use the “bad” in my self talk. I will check out her sight and possibly see about her book. Thank you for your revealing, personal insight… it helps others! LIke me! 🙂

  14. Marianne

    Ah yes! I know both versions of the self-talk and wow, does it feel different when I remember to be as nice to myself as I would be to a friend, or a child who just made a mistake. I’m terribly clumsy because I’m always in a hurry to do things and have no time for paying attention to details like whether the element is hot before I rest my hand on it. I have learned/ am learning to cut myself some slack on that front since I have so many other great qualities. Just like your fabulous self. Right! x

  15. Davielle

    nicely said, Andrea. wow. thank you for opening your self to all of us that are also on / might join us on — the Read-Along journey with Brene. by the way, I think that PICTURE HOPE was the best of those entries, and because Kelly Rae posted a blip about visiting your video clip and voting, I did – and I did (vote) – and isn’t it lovely how the world can work for the bigger good? there’s just NO room for shame in a healed world, is there? sigh.

  16. Wanda

    Congratulations! What a wonderful change of direction. Yeah…it sucks, but what’re you gonna do? I love that.

  17. Wanda

    Congratulations! What a wonderful change of direction. Yeah…it sucks, but what’re you gonna do? I love that.

  18. simone

    I am on this journey with you. Thanks for posting that and for pointing me to Brene’s book–I’ll check it out. I’v been thinking about what you wrote all day …the truth is not that bad. I never thought of that and its so true. I also do the same kind of “crafting when I re-tell the events of my day. Thanks for writing this!

  19. julie

    wear that burnt carpet as a badge of honour andrea – congratulations on the self-love!

  20. Molly

    My Mom says “you idiot!” when she spills something, and “how stupid!” if she has to rip a seam out of her sewing project.
    I always tnought she was being so hard on herself. As an adult, I’m sure to mention “hey, watch the language.” I don’t want my kids hearing Grandma calling *herself* names. What kind of example would is that to set?
    When you clarify this distinction I suppose I am merely a guilt person. Inside I truly feel made-by-God good. I didn’t realize that perhaps my Mom feels shameful.

  21. gayle

    You are not enough…
    This is one I struggle with on a daily basis.
    I wish that nagging little voice in my head had a mute button, I am tired of hearing it and struggle with ways to shut it off.

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