Feeling More Than or Less Than and the Experience of Shame

In the Wissahickon Center’s Women’s Support Group, Finding the Heart’s Center, we are exploring issues of shame and authenticity.  This week we will be looking at why it is that so often we see ourselves as either being “too much” or “not enough,” and the shame that happens when those feelings wash over us.  I am reminded of the opening scene from the wonderful movie about Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”  In the scene the little Tina (maybe five years old) is singing her heart out in the church choir, but the choir director is threatened by her exuberance and keeps shutting her down, until she is finally tossed out of church.  Even that doesn’t quench her spirit – she does not fold until she experiences abandonment and rejection. 

I woke up this morning thinking about these twin poles of shame, and what it takes to move past and through them.  Some thoughts I have:

1.  Be honest with ourselves about who we truly are, and let go of trying to be what others want

2.  Be gentle with ourselves when we are less than perfect and recognize that imperfection is the human condition and that that is ok.

3.  Have the courage to speak our truth gently to others when it is helpful and constructive to do so.

4. and Work to see our own value and worth as sufficient to themselves, without comparing them to the accomplishments and value of others.

I would welcome your ideas on self-worth and shame – when do you feel more or less than, and what is helpful to you in sorting through these feelings?

Posted by Laura

Laura Marshall, LCSW, is the founder and director of the Sagebrush Center for Relationship Therapy. Her experience spans thirty years of supporting couples and individuals to create healthy and meaningful lives and relationships. She is also adjunct faculty for the New Mexico Highlands School of Social Work. She lives with her husband Steve and five sons in Farmington, New Mexico.

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