This past weekend I had the privilege of leading a group of connectors through the Emotional Intelligence Program. As always, it was a moving experience filled with insight and inspiration.
One of the most important learning’s that we work on in this program is to develop more of an emotional vocabulary. Too often we describe feelings rather than identifying them. For example; I feel like this could be an effective article, as opposed to, I am feeling excited and confident that this will be a helpful article. Feelings are identified by one word (afraid, angry, sad, happy, content and loved). The introduction of emotional words into any conversation makes it much more personal and engaging. If you want more connected, meaningful conversations it is crucial to learn and utilize more emotional vocabulary. For many of us it is the integration of a whole new skill set in communication.
In the closing exercise of this past program I encouraged the group to scan through their emotional vocabulary handouts and share with each participant the emotional words that best describe them. The focus, of course, was on the positive emotional words.
I chose to participate in this beautiful exercise and receive words of encouragement and affirmation. One of the words given to me…rocked me. I am quite sure that it is a word that I have never received as affirmation. The word was ‘unashamed.’
I was so struck by this word that I asked the person who shared it, to explain what it meant to them in regards to me. I am going to paraphrase what she said, but what I heard was that I show up at every program unashamed. I am unafraid to share my pain, my mistakes and my life with vulnerability and without shame. I’m pretty sure that I am embellishing a little, but this is what it sounded like to me.
How do I feel about that word? I feel exposed and undone. As I consider the word unashamed the first thing that comes to mind is that I have chosen this profession because I am looking for answers to address my shame. Maybe more than most, I am aware of the darkness of my shadow self and how capable he is of acting out of that darkness. I discovered it at a very early age when I felt compelled to lie about my sports achievements to impress other little boys of my prowess. The crazy thing is; I didn’t need to lie. I had plenty of achievements that were more than impressive all on their own. Unfortunately, lying becomes a habit and even an addiction. I have told my fair share of lies which have laid the foundation for lots of shame. One of the first true moments of honesty with Christine was to say, accompanied with many tears…I never want to lie to someone in a relationship again.
I’m pretty sure that I came into personal development work for my sake first and foremost. I knew I wanted to be an authentic person but I also knew that the only way to that authenticity was to come face to face daily with my shame and expose it to the light of my sacred self. This journey requires a brutal amount of honesty with self and then honesty with others. It’s been a bumpy ride at times as my shadow sought to stay hidden and grow the shame within, however, the willingness to show up one program after another, year after year and make the choice to say, this is me, the good, the bad and the ugly, has been a life saver.
Something that I learned a few years ago helped me to continue working on my shame. My shadow self would consistently tell me that my shame disqualified me from my work. How could people possibly listen to such a broken individual? My sacred self responded by saying that my shame actually qualified me for the job. People are more willing to listen to a wounded healer than one who professes to having it all together.
I still struggle with some of the shame I carry; however, to have someone say loud and clear that they experience me as unashamed is liberating.
How are you doing with your shame?
Terry Lige is a Kelowna life coach and the founder & head facilitator of Inside Out Leadership. Experience life-changing breakthroughs in his transformational personal development courses.