Well, I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. So, imagine my surprise when I opened an anonymous handwritten letter addressed to me and read that.
It was from a well-meaning friend, who thought I’d gotten plump and needed to shed a few.
“Anonymous” said she remembered how thin I used to be. She was doing me a favor by recommending a weight loss product that really worked.
Well, she obviously knew me. Within the last year, I’d had a baby and still couldn’t fit back into my pre-baby jeans.
The note confirmed what I already thought about myself– I’m fat–but didn’t want to say out loud. Even though I thought everyone was thinking it.
“Just buy the product and try to lose weight,” I reasoned.
Well, the “friend” turned out to be a weight loss company. It was an ad campaign in which they sent out “anonymous” hand-written notes from “friends” with an ad for a weight loss product attached.
They were counting on people feeling bad about themselves and being desperate for a change.
And, it worked.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve struggled with being comfortable with who you are. You’ve had the fear of not measuring up or meeting other’s expectations. It can be frustrating and leave you feeling unworthy.
The company was counting on me feeling that way. And, why shouldn’t it?
As hurtful as it was, it was also genius. They’d tapped in to what a lot of us feel but are afraid to say, “Something’s wrong with me.”
That feeling has a name.
Few know what it looks like but everyone knows what it feels like. It’s the most common but least talked about of all human emotions.
Believe it or not, we’re all affected by it. Why? Because it hides in the daily, the most familiar places in our lives: parenting, body image, finances, education, work, marriage, appearance, family, background.
It’s the feeling you get when you go on Facebook and see your friends’ happy faces and great vacations. Or read their long endearing love letters to their spouses on their anniversaries. We start to feel bad about ourselves.
It’s the same feeling that makes you go to church Sunday morning with a smile smacked across your face when you really want to cry.
Shame is that feeling that tells you you’re flawed. You’re bad.
- I’m not enough.
- I don’t measure up.
- Who do I think I am?
- I’ll never be as good as they are.
After reading the note–right on cue–I shied away from the very thing that could’ve helped me: Relationship. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know. I even debated telling my husband.
Too many times instead of moving towards people when we feel shame, we move towards secrecy or isolation. It’s only in relationships we experience compassion, empathy, and understanding. Healing. The only things that can soothe the feeling of shame. Hearing “me, too” or ” I understand” or ” “I get it.”
So how do you get a grip on shame, so it can’t keep its grip on you?
- Tell someone.
- Accept compassion.
- Challenge your thoughts.
- Everything can’t be your fault; if it is, that makes you God.
- Recognize triggers.
- Realize you can’t control what other people think.
Someone had said what I already believed about myself. And, I was hurt.
But. . . I still told my sister. She told me her friend had received the very same note. And her friend was just as upset as I was.
Obviously her friend felt the same way I did. And, we got sucked right in because it enforced our own self-defeating thoughts. Shame had its grip on us. And the company was counting on it.
No matter who you are or what you have, it’s a difficult feeling to escape.
What has you in its grip? And, what are you willing to do to get out of it?
Get your real on,