Shame. Its message is dreadfully debilitating and packed with pain. The corrosive effect it has on how we love, parent, work, and lead (to name only a few) is enormous. As one authority on the subject has written, “Shame keeps us small, resentful, and afraid,” which is the way many choose to live their lives.
Shame is, primarily, the fear of disconnection. Since we are psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love, and belonging, the message shame proclaims is devastating. Listen to its voice: “I'm not worthy or good enough for acceptance, belonging, or connection. I'm unlovable, I cannot measure up, and I lack what is necessary to accomplish what others expect of me.”
In our shame-prone culture, parents, bosses, teachers, and many pastors consciously or subconsciously urge people to connect their significance to what they produce. This prompts disengagement, blame, and favoritism, resulting in fear of risk, absence of vulnerability, and a total lack of innovation. How much better to respect and honor others—even when they fail to measure up to expectations or “blow it” big time!
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