Shame. When it hits you, it hits you hard. You’ve made a mistake and you know it, but admit to it? No thank you. What good would it do, to let those you love in on this abject failure?
As you think about this, you start to embody your failure and fall down the rabbit hole of dark thoughts. You start to wonder, what kind of person you must be to have made a mistake like this? What kind of fool would let this happen?
You fill up with a sense of inadequacy and loneliness. The instinct is to hide from this mistake and protect yourself. If you can’t avoid the situation altogether, there’s always anger. You figure that if you could just show how powerful and in control you are, and no one will ever know. You could also drown out the shame with gifts – showing how happy you can make the people you’ve let down. For a moment at least, the sense of failure could just disappear, almost as if it hadn’t happened at all. If that doesn’t work, pick your favorite self-destructive habit.
Whichever method you choose, you figure you are safe so long as know one sees what’s really going on. It feels safe but the truth is, by hiding the problem It only helps to feed into the cycle of self-destruction. The path to healing will start with a deep breath and some serious bravery. Be vulnerable and name your shame. Call it out for the harm it causes you – for leaving you cut off and truly alone. Share this truth. Like so many dark things, shame shrivels under the bright lights. Be brave and tell your story with an open heart. You may just be surprised at the outcome. There is love in this direction. Mistakes and shame.