How Do You Cope When You Encounter Shameful Moments?
Failing and messing up – I’ve been doing my share this past week, mirroring the subject of my previous blog posts.
First I had an unpleasant interaction with my neighbor, which I caused, over a barking dog. For about a day, I felt justified in what I’d done, but as I’ve continued to ruminate on it, I’m feeling like such a dick.
One of the stories I tell about myself is that I had a huge anger problem which I solved about 10 years ago. And that’s mostly true – I am a radically different person now than I was then. Even in this interaction, I was cool and collected in a way that I would never have been in the past.
But still, my action was taken from irritation and anger, and I’ve been experiencing a lot of shame about it.
And then yesterday, I encountered a big setback regarding a critical aspect of my business infrastructure. And to my surprise, I felt a huge amount of shame over that.
Logically this makes no sense – the problem is a result of some mistakes I made, but they were completely honest mistakes, to be expected for someone of my limited experience in this area. But my brain went to “should have done or should have known”, and man – I felt like crap.
However, the great thing about these situations is that because of the emotional awareness that I’ve learned (and that I teach), I could recognize these feelings as shame.
How Controlling Your Emotion Can Help You Handle Anger
A few years ago, my dinosaur brain would only have known that I felt really crappy for some reason, and I would have been pissed off. I would have been irritated, self-righteous and critical, and I would have been a total ass to my wife.
But instead, I noticed this wave of emotion, and instead of converting it to anger and lashing out, I just experienced it as a sensation in my body. It was a feeling of tension in my neck, weakness in my arms, and tight shallow breath. Not pleasant, but better than being poked with a sharp stick.
And really no big deal. This process is called ‘Allowing Emotion’ and I wrote a bit more about it here.
By experiencing the emotion in this peaceful way, I was able to get an awareness of those ‘should have’ thoughts that created it. That awareness reduces their power tremendously.
Your life changes for the better when you learn to handle emotions like this. It’s still not all roses and daisies. Shit happens and you feel bad about it. Shame still sucks.
But you’re not afraid of it anymore. You become someone who is willing to feel any emotion. You become someone who is willing to try and fail at things because you can easily deal with the consequences.
And the person who is willing to fail is the person who moves their life forward and gets what they want.
What do you want? What’s in your way?