The Stories We Tell Ourselves

“I’m not sure that I have any interesting stories to tell. My life has been pretty boring.”

When my Toastmasters mentor disagreed with me, I silently discounted her assurances. After all, how could she know whether I had had anything interesting to say. She hasn’t lived my boring life, and she doesn’t know the real me?!

We tend to double down when people come to close to uncovering our limiting beliefs. This is what I did in this situation. At my core, I believe I’m not interesting enough or charismatic enough. All of this probably traces back to emotional baggage around feeling not worthy to be seen and heard.

Trust me; not enough-ness feelings are hard to shake. When we aren’t mindful of it, every situation and interaction can validate those bad things we believe about ourselves. These feelings of unworthiness aren’t a personal struggle with no name; it’s…

Shame, “the intensively painful feeling of believing that we’re deeply flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.”
-Brene Brown, “I Thought It Was Just Me

We tend to think of shame as someone pointing their finger at you and saying you are bad. The truth is we are often the judgy person with a pointy finger.

Mainly based on family and societal narratives, we didn’t even consciously choose most of these deeply-held expectations about who we are supposed to be. However, when we fall short, we choose to judge ourselves mercilessly.

I don’t know if I’ve ever named shame in my writing until now, but I did intentionally wrote about in “Am I Enough.” Most of the time, though, shame bubbles up through my writing. For instance, after reading my Heavy post,  my life coach prompted me to go re-read it and look for the shame.

I’m okay with this. Writing gives me a chance to work through thoughts and feelings that often feel like a jumbled up mess. Sharing my insecurities, vulnerabilities, and shame on this blog becomes therapy for me. When I share, I no longer have to fear you discover my insecurities and perceived weakness, I’ve brought them to light for anyone on the internet to see.

But sharing has a higher purpose for me.  It’s this…

“Writing about yourself is like stripping down to your Bali bra in a crowd so that others can see the stretch marks on your belly (and be reassured about their own).”
-Adair Lara, Naked, Drunk, and Writing

I’ve always clung to this idea that I’m an outsider or an oddball. But the truth is, we are all more alike than different.

I want to show that no one lives in that fake picture-perfect world that social media sometimes perpetuates. Life isn’t one long vacation, and we all struggle.  But when we don’t hide all of our pain and disappointment, we have a chance to create connections with others.

So, I show you my shame and my struggles. My greatest hope for this post would be that after reading it, you might become more aware of any of your feelings of unworthiness. And just maybe, when you feel unworthy you might pause and question whether you are trapped in shame and bullshit expectations.

The dangerous thing about feeling unworthy is that it often becomes a herculean feat to step outside of this narrative and question your thoughts when you believe you are innately flawed and lacking. You distrust your judgment and feelings. Accepting your lack of worth becomes the path of least resistance. Awareness, though, can change everything.

By extension, disclosing vulnerabilities become an anti-venom to the poison of shame. I share with you and I hope that you’ll share with me and with others

Most importantly, though, I hope you show yourself compassion.  It’s so easy to shame yourself about shame.  Be kind; we are all just “works-in-progress.” And, boy, do I need this message, too!

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Becky Elliott

After dropping out of a liberal arts college that focused on reading and discussing the “Great Books”, Becky Elliott found her way to a career in IT. For 20+ years, she has held a number of roles in Dev and Ops, and the area in between the two. In working for organizations in which poor security practices can cost lives, she’s an ardent believer in integrating security through the entire design process. Becky holds a number of industry certifications including the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

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