Many say our generations have been raised very differently.

Some say that our previous generations were raised with humility at the core. This message that you aren’t that special and you must work to prove your worthiness, maybe even to the point of perfection. This message was especially delivered with that sense that you must appear perfect, especially to everyone on the outside.

Then we have some saying that our newer generations are being raised one of two ways:

  • to think we are all too special thus leading us to this sense of entitlement on one extreme, maybe even to the point of laziness and a lack of responsibility.
  • Then the other extreme, this sense of needing to always be the best at any and everything, leading us to having an identity of only accomplishments, hence even more perfectionism.

I am not here to share the research or to even prove or disprove either argument. And, I am not going to write about parenting today. However, as I work with clients every day, especially through the shame resilience work of The Daring Way™, and I continue to work on my own recovery, I am seeing a few patterns that seem to be haunting many of us today.

hand with a spoonWith the previous generation this message of humility seems to often have been handed down with a tablespoon of shame. This idea that you aren’t that special. You must prove yourself; you must be perfect even.

What I see in my office with clients today are people trying to figure out what to do with this sense of unworthiness that this tablespoon of shame has left them with. This sense of never being enough. This idea that unless I am perfect, unless I prove myself, I am unworthy of love and belonging; because, I am not that special.

With the newer generations and the message that we are all really special, still taught with a tablespoon of shame as it is directly tied to self worth, I see clients who are feeling extremely lost.

So scared to make a decision, maybe even scared of the work required of whatever decision they finally make. The fear of the responsibility because if they do make a mistake then they are handed the message, with that tablespoon of shame, that they are no longer special at all.

Or the other side, the side of always having to be the best; to have the ultimate college application or resume. That perfectionist, only born out of that tablespoon of shame, accomplished list rather than a soul or person. Because, I am only special because of what I can do or what I have accomplished.

I am finding that they too are very lost. Lost in finding their authentic truth. Lost in being able to trust themselves. Lost in knowing who they really want to be, especially outside of their accomplishments.

All three groups, at least what I see in my office on a daily basis, are left with this sense of never being enough and yet this sense of having to be everything. And, this damn tablespoon of shame that seems to haunt them relentlessly. Making it all tied to their sense of love, belonging and worthiness.

We are all worthy. We are all lovable. We all belong.

And, we are all worthy of love and belonging.

However, I think, this tablespoon of shame, leaves many of us never believing the above statements.

Technically we are supposed to get this sense of love and belonging from our family of origin but sometimes they just don’t have it to give, maybe because they were never taught or shown it or because life has just been that difficult. Hopefully then we get it from our social and peer groups or even school or work settings.

For me, with where my life is, my tablespoon of shame is typically delivered from our culture and, unfortunately, even from some loved ones.

It is delivered in those messages that try to dim my light and shame my story.

The complete mis-education and misunderstanding of infertility.

The invalidation of the lifelong costs and losses of infertility.

The judgments on me for not choosing adoption and accepting a childfree but childfull life.

The denial of my story because it is too difficult or uncomfortable to hear.

No matter the tablespoon of shame in our lives, this sense of love and belonging can still be felt by all of us. It is in all of the daily practices we must choose in order to find this for ourselves; to find it within ourselves. Those daily practices of connection, compassion, brave vulnerability and self care. For me, it has been the work that I have learned from Brené Brown’s research combined with everything I have learned working in this field for the last 14 years.

It is recovery.

It is living the wholehearted life. It is practicing happy to be happy. It is being authentic. It is being brave. It is being vulnerable.

It is in owning it all.

No matter which group we may identify with above, I think our answer through it to our happier and healthier selves is in our practice, fight and work in our own recoveries in life.

It is in owning all the parts of our stories.

It is in leaving out that tablespoon of shame in our recipe for an ever upward life.

*To read more about my story and my recovery make sure to pick up a copy of the soon to be published Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.*

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating 😉, please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

7 thoughts on “The Tablespoon of Shame

  1. Megan says:

    Just got around to reading this… love this post! Thanks for all you do! Megan

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    1. Megan, Thank you so much! This one was tough to write, just trying to get the metaphor across. Thank you for reading it and taking the time to comment, glad it resonated with you! Justine

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  2. I haven’t been able to figure out why but I have felt some sort of shame for sharing my story, for miscarrying, and for walking around with no belly when I should have been delivering any day now. Like I did something wrong. Probably because most people have told me I shouldn’t feel the way I do, shouldn’t be so upset over my losses, because after all 1 in every 5 first pregnancies end in miscarriage. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, so many others will learn from your journey of healing.

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    1. Sure we all suffer grief and a lot in the same way but never at all exactly the same. You have every right to feel how you feel about your losses. I am so sorry, I know the power of the pain around the time of year and the due dates. I promise you there is nothing for you to feel shame for, but healing may need to take place first for you to trust that. Thank you for reading and sharing your story. Much love, Justine

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  3. Another well-written post! And I’m still left with curiosity to explore your site more!

    One of your comments, “The denial of my story because it is too difficult or uncomfortable to hear” is a common feeling when someone wants to talk about a subject that is often painful and not happy-fluff stuff. I lost a 20+ year friendship because when I needed to talk about my grief my now former friend told me I was forcing her to be a voyeur on my life. Ouch!

    Have you heard of the term DISENFRANCHISED GRIEF? I became familiar with this term during my own baby loss story with the need to talk … to get my words out … to feel heard … to start the healing process by expressing myself.

    Disenfranchised grief is grief that is often societally unacceptable to be expressed to friends, family and society in general. Some examples include pet loss, sadness over the death of a spouse who was abusive, separation of a long term partner when both are gay, baby loss regarding a termination for medical reasons, etc. The list goes on.

    One of my favorite articles on disfranchised grief is this one: http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/disenfranchised-grief/

    Thanks for creating your blog and I wish you success on your upcoming book release! In the meantime, I’m going to be reading more of your stuff! 🙂

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    1. Oh I am so glad! Anxious to read this article, thank you for sharing. I had never heard this term…socially unacceptable loss, so true but so much in the comparison and scarcity mindset (Loss is Loss is one of my posts). Thank you for this comment and for reading ever upward! Much love, Justine

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