When I recently attended a bootcamp class at my gym, I noticed this adorable twenty-something standing next to me. Although I have seen her before, I have never talked to her. Truth is, she generally works out every morning at 6 AM, whereas I stumble in at 7 AM. I have in the past overheard some of her conversations. They generally revolve around what she is eating and her asking advice from others since she is “starving herself and not losing any more weight.” Having been in that situation for a huge portion of my life, I have had tremendous empathy for her. Although part of me wanted to jump right in and save her, I could hear my three daughters (who are also in their twenties) in my head saying, “Mom, don’t be scary!” So beyond complimenting her whenever I could and was appropriate, I kept my scary-self quiet.
But on this day, my mind was on overdrive, stunned by the news that continues to come out of the growing number of reports of sexual assault and harassment as part of the #MeToo movement and of the women (and men) whom were silenced by the shadow of shame and frozen by fear.
In my mind, the battle-cry that kept sounding louder and louder was “Enough is enough!” It compelled me to look once again at my own life as well as in the world to see “In what situations and circumstances am I or others compromising, settling, accepting the unacceptable, quieting our voice, or stepping over our truth?”
I literally took on proactively walking through the world looking through the eyes of “Enough is enough!” not in a judgmental or make-wrong way but more in a social justice kind of way – a way of really looking at “Who do I want to be in the world? What do I want to stand for? and What can I no longer tolerate?” (This was very much motivated by what I wrote in an older blog post entitled “Join The Integrity Movement” and taking on being the change I want to see in the world.)
So that day, as I looked over at this beautiful being who was working out so hard, I was saddened and disturbed to see her wearing a sweatshirt tied around her waist, covering her butt! Now let me preface this by saying that I live in Miami where it is close to 90 degrees. No one needs or is wearing a big bulky sweatshirt. Having also spent many years literally and figuratively covering my ass, I knew exactly what this girl was doing and why! She was covering her ass because of shame!
In my book The Integrity Advantage, I have a chapter dedicated to what I call “Integrity Snatchers.” Integrity Snatchers are the constant companions, the characteristics and situations, that we all live with that diminish our sense of self, erode our self-trust, and whittle away at our birthright of integrity. Integrity Snatchers keep us from making the highest choices for ourselves and going for the life of our dreams. In my book, I talk about seven different Integrity Snatchers, the first of which is shame. In my book, I write:
Shame is one of the most painful emotions that there is. Our shame, which is generally birthed from some childhood event, teaches us to hide who we truly are because we fear that who we are is fundamentally flawed. Our shame leads us to believe that people won’t like us if they know who we truly are at our core. Our shame is what creates our external persona and robs us of authenticity.
Believing that we are our shame, fundamentally flawed, need fixing, are not to be trusted, and must hide, we dull down our desires and don’t strive for amazing. Why? Because we don’t believe we deserve amazing or can achieve amazing. Above all, we don’t want to feel the pain of our shame if we risk something and fail. The time bomb of our shame is ticking loudly and keeps us stuck and playing small. It leaves us paralyzed, fearing rejection, expecting disappointment, hiding who we are. It keeps us from reaching for the life we dream of and know we are meant to live.
Now I know there has been a lot of conversation about body-shamers – people who say nasty, inappropriate, and unwarranted things about others. Their comments and commentary are not needed or wanted. If given the opportunity, I would encourage these body-shamers to look at the purpose and intent of their words as well as the impact and really dig deep in the exploration of knowing that their words are their calling cards. Who do they want to be in the world? But enough about them.
Debbie Ford always used to say that other people cannot make you feel a certain way. In wrapping my arms around her theory, I used to imagine it like a hook and eye. If someone’s words or a situation stirs up a certain feeling, it is only because somewhere within you there is an eye to anchor in their hook. That is why the same words or event might not generate similar feelings in someone else – they don’t have the same wounds or sensitivities so they are not getting hooked in.
So, as I looked at this girl next to me, working out tirelessly, sweating profusely, trying to fix herself, and covering her butt, I started to think about all of the ways we consciously or often unconsciously shame ourselves.
Think of the times when you:
Wear baggy clothing to cover some part of your body
Negatively compare yourself to the person sitting next to you or to some celebrity
Don’t eat, spend money, or even sleep in public out of fear someone might think you are lazy or irresponsible
Quiet your voice, thinking your thoughts don’t matter or would sound stupid
Don’t take a risk or go for a dream or desire because you’re afraid to fail
Although I know we all walk around on some level trying to guard ourselves from the pain and sting of rejection or embarrassment, the truth is that playing small makes us feel small – and that kills our soul and destroys our dreams! It is like we are constantly beating up that little, innocent beautiful child inside of us. It is abusive.
So today I am declaring “Enough is enough!” when it comes to us all shaming ourselves! I encourage you to really look around your life and see the ways you are whittling away at your self-esteem. As you go on this exploration, be mindful not to use anything you find to shame yourself even more. Be fascinated by what you find and amazed by the insidiousness of shame, especially when we do it to ourselves.
The only way to bust out of our shame is to bust out of our shame! It’s time to stop hiding, claim our right to be fully expressed, and dance in the light of authentic aliveness and the inspiration of integrity!
A person of integrity is someone whose life isn’t full of contradictions. They do as they say, and they say as they do. Who they are on the inside is who they are on the outside, and who they are on the outside is aligned with how they feel on the inside. They have declared what is important to them and who they want to be in this lifetime. The actions they take and choices they make are aligned with that declaration and reflect that they feel worthy and deserving to manifest that which they most desire.
As time has gone on, we have seen the courage of the “Me Too” movement spread throughout social media and the world. Women are stepping out of the shadow of shame and isolation and imprisonment of Integrity Snatchers. I am also happy to report that after mentioning my crusade to have people stop body-shaming themselves to a best friend of the girl with the sweatshirt, who quickly assured me that she too tells her friend to stop wearing shirts tied around her waist, the “girl with the sweatshirt” is no longer doing so. She came into the gym on Thursday for the first time without having something covering her butt!
I am still in awe of what can happen when we make that declaration of “Enough is enough!”
Transformational Action Steps
Start walking through life looking at your own life and in the world at the situations where “Enough is enough!”
(1) Become fascinated by all of the ways you consciously or unconsciously shame yourself. What are the ways you cover up, quiet yourself, play small, or hide?
(2) Picture that little child inside of you and truly think about whether they deserve to be put down, pushed away, or put in the corner. Ask them, “What is the love that you need to step out of your shame and into the light?”
(3) Do something unrecognizable. Take on your shame and let your whole self shine!
To gain even more insight into Integrity Snatchers and learning to love yourself and your body, you can read my book The Integrity Advantage, book a one-on-one session with me, or join me at my upcoming in-person workshop ‘The Body Shadow: From Self-Loathing to Self-Loving’ hosted by Omega June 14th-16th, 2019.