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3 Reasons Why Shame is Your Friend

3 Reasons Why Shame is Your Friend

 

    Previously we discussed how Fear is your friend, because can guide you towards what’s important for you, motivate you to take action to improve your odds, and you give you a rush. We also discussed how Sadness can be your friend, because Sadness  shows you what you care about, Sadness helps you to appreciate what you have, and Sadness requires you to be authentic. Today we are going to talk about how Shame is your friend. This one is a bit trickier than the first two, but it’s no less powerful.

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    1. Shame Indicates Your Vulnerabilities

    First, Shame shows you what you believe about yourself, and what your vulnerabilities are. We all have our weak spots, and, when you think about it, wouldn’t you rather be aware of them than not? So, you may ask, how does this work? Great question, I’m glad you asked. As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” When you feel shame, you are subconsciously consenting to what was said about you. Hmmm, sounds complicated you say. Fair enough, here’s an example. If someone were to call me stupid, it would roll  right off my back. No part of me feels stupid. I have a PhD from the University of Chicago, and they don’t just hand those out for free. I have full faith in my intellectual abilities. Now, when someone calls me ugly, I feel a flush of shame, because when I was a kid, I felt ugly, and part of me still feels that way sometimes, so that indicates that I am still carrying around that belief about myself, buried in my subconscious. When someone insults you and you get upset, part of you believes the insult might be true, that’s insight into what you believe about yourself, and it indicates what you might want to work on as personal growth.

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    2. Shame Deflates Your Ego

    Second, Shame deflates your ego. When you have done something that hurts yourself or others, you feel ashamed. When someone calls you on it, you feel even more ashamed. Both of those things are good, by the way. We all do things that violate our values (and that feeling of Shame can show you what those are, by the way!), and Shame is the emotion we feel in response to our values being hurt, just as physical pain is your body’s response to being hurt. Shame gets us out of our self-conscious ego that drives us to make selfish or foolish choices, and back into our values and our community.

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    3. The Back-Handed Compliment

    Lastly, Shame is actually a back-handed compliment. You can only feel shame if you have a conscience and it’s working! Maybe you do something stupid or cruel, and you feel ashamed. That’s great! That means you are a decent human being with a conscience. A psychopath won’t feel shame, but you do, so you are a good person! The fact that you feel bad about yourself is actually cause to feel good about yourself! Shame also highlights what your values are, because you only feel it when you violate your values. Also, when you feel Shame, part of you knows you can do better. No one feels ashamed that they can’t fly or breathe underwater, because these are impossible! You may feel ashamed that you don’t make more money, but that means that you already believe you could be making more money! Another back-handed compliment! So, while Shame may be quite painful in the moment, if you reflect on it and deconstruct it, you can actually find a lot to be proud of (I know, weird, right?)

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    So, Shame shows you what you believe about yourself and what your vulnerabilities are, it deflates your ego, and it is actually a backhanded compliment! Not bad, that friend has a lot of wisdom and good advice for you, even thought it may seem hard to swallow at first.

     

     

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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