The Spiral of Shame

I was interviewed on a podcast today around the conversation of the shifts we go through that are caused by crisis.

I wasn’t certain what I would share on the podcast and found myself sharing about my experience with shame and there were some nuggets around it that I wanted to share here.

Shame is something that is very common. 

We all experience it as human beings, and I believe shame can often be the cause of our spaces of spiral.

A share...

I remember after I bought the ranch that I now live and create from, all 80 acres of it, I had really, really lofty goals.

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I began my year investing a large amount of money on branding, coaches to continue taking my business and vision to the next level.

I was excited. After all I had just come off of a really successful year in my business where I hit 6 figures and beyond, bought the ranch, things were aligning and feeling magical,  so I was feeling pretty confident about what 2016 would hold for me.

I had all of these goals and ideals and ambitions for my first year at the ranch, the things I would accomplish with my business, with my finances, and off I went.

The year quickly spiraled away from confidence and hitting my goals and I watched each month pass with not even coming close to what I had set out to accomplish.

My horse died. I had to learn how to navigate through hiring staff, leading staff (something I hadn’t ever done before) and learning what was the right staff support and what was not. I watched my money exit out of my bank account quite quickly, debt piling up again and then the shame began to arise.

I was a failure. I was letting people down. I was a fraud.

I measured my “success” with the numbers I hadn’t received, I was lost in my own fear and self doubt, losing that place of confidence and belief in myself and I was ashamed of that.

I would be holding space for my clients, teaching things while behind the scenes, I was slowly eroding.

The shame was debilitating and I isolated myself through that.

Until finally I couldn’t anymore. 

The crushing pressure on my chest was debilitating, my adrenals were in fatigue, I was not enjoying life, I was burnt out and then I got trampled by one of my horses.

And then something happened…

I started to talk to people.

I remember having a few girlfriends over to the ranch one weekend for a bit of a mastermind with just us and I started to reveal and share how I felt.

I was ashamed, I failed, I didn’t reach my goals.

They looked at me almost in shock and gently and fiercely gave me a different picture of what I had done.

"You are magic," they said. 

"Look at what you have stepped into, look at what you have created, look at your impact."

I had, in the midst of looking at my surface failings, forgot to see those pieces.

And then in a conversation with my parents, when sharing my financial difficulties, I broke down and spoke about all of the fears and shame I was feeling.

They said to me, "Are you kidding? We can’t believe what you have been able to accomplish in the last couple of years. We are so proud of you."

I was terrified that the people of my life would see me as a failure, a disappointment, even that I was failing my horses that I had in my field.

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Here is what I learned through that episode.

Shame is a story. 

It isn’t truth. 

It is our own assumption and perspective that is viewed from the places of fear and insecurity.

It is not truth.

Most likely we are the only ones that are holding the things we have done or not done as shameful, most people from the outside looking in are not going to view it the same way we did.

In my own tunnel vision of shame I assumed and was terrified of how others would see me. I was so consumed with worrying about that when in reality, it was the farthest thing from the truth.

We can’t let shame isolate us.

I shared today in a podcast when I was asked what would be the wisdom and advice I would share with other entrepreneurs or really I think anyone that is on the journey, what would I give.

This is a piece that I think is so important:

Lean into your community and tribe of trusted friends, families and advisors. Do not hide your shame and isolate yourself because the prison and spiral will only get worse.

Allow other people to lighten your perspective to support and empower you through your moments of weakness that you are absolutely allowed to have.

I found the worst thing I could have done for myself is hide and suffer in solitude.

I felt like I had to protect others from my own self depreciation because I didn’t want people to fear or worry about me. I also was afraid of people seeing me as weak and how they would hold that.

I stayed in those spaces of shame and pain way longer than I needed to and the impact it had on my health, my finances, my enjoyment and purpose for life was incredibly detrimental.

My adjustment has been this…

Whenever I feel shame, I acknowledge it, give love to it and remind myself that it isn’t truth.

When I notice how it is impacting how I live my life both personally and professionally, I reach out to a trusted source and open up and be vulnerable. The relief that happens just through sharing is powerful.

Write about it, be honest with yourself about it and then open yourself to another perspective - what's another way you can see your situation?

Some place I often go to for myself is courage, that I have courage to create through my purpose, to try, to create, to go for it, and yes I have fallen and made mistakes through that, but I stepped into it.

That space often allows me to shift my own shame spiral to see the “positive" perspective of my failures and where I think I have let others down.

Shame can be a snowball that grows if we allow it to, but we don’t need to.

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An invitation

If this resonates with you and you notice shame is a space that is feeling like it is holding you back, creating isolation, and just feeling heavy...

Find someone you trust to talk to about it that you know will be able to hold another space for yourself around it.

Look up Brene Brown. She is brilliant at speaking about shame. Her Ted talks and books are fantastic at enlightening what shame is all about.

Forgive yourself, and give yourself the gift of another perspective.

Shame doesn’t have to a be a spiral we lose ourselves in. It can be an opportunity for us to witness instead the strength of what we are courageous enough to step into.

Love,
Your coach and guide,
Hillary

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