The REBEL Society: Kick Shame to the Curb

Shame is a weasley devil.

Born out of fear, blame, and other dark feelings, it permeates us and prevents us from pursuing our dreams and living our best lives.  It keeps us in the shadows, hiding, lurking, for fear of being seen for who we really are.

But what if who we really are is absolutely amazing?

And shame is just a flat. out. lie?

Shame is so tricky and it cornered me for many years.  It can wash over us often undetected at first until it hooks its claws in like a blood sucking tick.

Is shame keeping you in the corner?  Is it sucking the “blood” out of your life?

Its time light a match and burn that $h%t out!!!


I was a sensitive child (what could be viewed as a negative attribute but one I credit as making me who I am today). I felt deeply, listened closely, and was addicted to people pleasing. If I wasn’t the teacher’s pet, I felt I was doing something wrong. If I was reprimanded by anyone, and I mean anyone, I would replay my actions in my head for days – wishing I would have done better, said better, been better. I was constantly in fear of acting “out of line,” whatever that means, and it completely inhibited me from being a kid. I lived for words of affirmation and if I received anything less it would jolt me to my very core.

I remember always being interested in the arts and in music. I came out of the womb singing. My parents recollect teaching me how to ski in Colorado at the ripe old age of three. I sang my entire way down the hill in a snow plow. I remember it vividly. I had my hands resting on my knees as I gingerly made my way down the hill singing – and I remember it so well because I can recall thinking this is awesome! My parents said people at the bottom of the hill were asking who the jovial little singer was…

All that to say, I don’t ever remember a time that music wasn’t in the forefront of my mind.

That being said, shame held me back for a very, very long time. It takes guts to sing. It feels very vulnerable, because unlike other instruments, you cannot change the tone of your voice. You can train it to be more controlled, but your voice is your voice. I would bravely sing (hoping to be affirmed) at family functions, school, with friends, etc. Sometimes people affirmed my talent, and sometimes people made fun of me – sometimes people very close to me made fun of me or said hurtful things. And being someone who hangs on people’s words, it devastated me to my core.

Sometimes people don’t understand that a moment’s laugh at the expense of someone else (or the putting down of someone to make themselves feel better) can create days, weeks, months, sometimes even years of shame based thinking in the person in which it is directed.

And shame is rooted in fear. As I have confessed before, fear held me back for a long time, and in delving into what shame really is, I’ve realized that it has been a huge contributing factor to my fear.

I want to get something straight right now. I don’t want to blame anyone. I am NOT a victim. I am responsible for my thoughts and actions and for allowing those comments to affect me the way that they did. However, I am telling you all of this, because I think its time to change the conversation and call shame out for what it is: a virus… one based in fear, that once acknowledged is weakened considerably.

We live in a shame-based culture that permeates our schools and organizations – which then spills over into our families and our individual lives. This needs to change. And the way to change it is to acknowledge its presence, and then to practice shame resilience. It starts with me, with you, with us.

Brené Brown in Daring Greatly wrote:

I’ve never been to a shame-free school or organization. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I doubt it. In fact, once I’ve explained how shame works, I normally have one or two teachers approach me and explain that they use shame on a daily basis. Most ask how to change the practice, but a few proudly say, “It works.” The best-case scenario is that it’s a limited or contained problem, rather than a cultural norm. One reason that I’m confident that shame exists in schools is simply because 85 percent of the men and women we interviewed for the shame research could recall a school incident from their childhood that was so shaming, it changed how they thought of themselves as learners. What makes this even more haunting is that approximately half of those recollections were what I refer to as creativity scars. The research participants could point to a specific incident where they were told or shown that they weren’t good writers, artists, musicians, dancers, or something creative. I still see this happening in schools all the time. Art is graded on narrow standards and kids as young as kindergarten are told they have creative gifts. This helps explain why the gremlins are so powerful when it comes to creativity and innovation.

Note: Brené calls the negative, shame based thoughts that haunt us “gremlins.”

The above is just one example of how shame permeates us. It can make us rethink the way we view ourselves. That is SO powerful! And it seems to be especially affective in stunting creativity. And as you all know, that really gets my blood boiling.

You see, the world needs your creativity.  The world needs your mind.  The world needs your innovation.  There is only one YOU and if you are kept in a corner, no one will ever benefit from your unique gifts.

Enough is Enough. Enough. ENOUGH!

We can combat our feelings of shame by acknowledging their presence, calling them out for what they are (fear based, unproductive feelings), and then practicing what Brené Brown calls shame resilience. Shame resilience is an active practice where you do the above: you acknowledge that you are feeling shame, you call it out, and then you talk about it with someone you trust. This allows you to let it go. (To find out more information on this subject, read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.)

Your value is intrinsic. No external words, affirmations, accolades etc. compose your value. Your value is based on that fact that you are a human being. Your worth is infinite. And if you believe that in your bones, practicing shame resilience becomes much easier.

The world needs you to emerge from the corner, the shadows, the shame.  The world needs you to be YOU. So kick shame to the curb and let us see your brilliance.

You are amazing.

You are unique.

You are one of a kind.

Only you can do what you do the way that you do it.  So do it.

I send you LIGHT, LOVE, & PEACE straight from my heart to yours. May you actively acknowledge any shame based feelings that haunt you, call them out, and then speak about them with a loved one. Its time you kick them to the curb once and for all.

Cheers to freedom!


Jaclyn Steele

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