My Account

Sharing Openly Is an Antidote to Shame

Pride is the opposite of shame. Pride shows openly, while shame hides. What if we reverse this and share shame instead?

Shame Is Debilitating

With even a slight hint of shame, the mind and heart close down. And the more intense the shame, the more everything closes. And the more everything closes, the more the shame builds.

To break this cycle, the opposite can be helpful. Instead of hiding what you are ashamed of, what if you shared it openly instead? This is what gay pride is all about. What was considered shameful is can now be welcomed openly. 

But It Takes Courage

The first people to stand openly as gay, had to face open contempt and abuse. But by finding the courage to do so, they opened the way for so many others to stand up and come out of the closet. Through those acts of courage, shame was turned around and became pride.

This is no less true on a small scale in daily life. We all do things that we later think are wrong. We all do things that are not approved by others. Do you hide these things? Most of us do. But what if we shared them openly? What if we owned them? What if we allowed ourselves to be human beings?

Sharing With Even Just One Person Is Good ​

It is not necessary to broadcast our shame stories to the world in order to be free of them. Sometimes, just telling one person is all that is needed. That’s what friends offer to each other. That’s what counselors offer to their clients. That’s what support groups do. 

Speaking about it can be so helpful.

But Speaking Is Not Always Enough

Sometimes, a little inquiry into the stressful thoughts and stories connected to shame can take this further. For this, I use The Work of Byron Katie (4 Questions and Turnarounds), a powerful way to question any thought. 

Maybe the thought was, “I made a terrible mistake.” This can be questioned—not only listened to, but actually questioned and turned around. This takes the power out of shame. When my thoughts are questioned, there is often nothing solid left for shame to stand on.

How Can You Come Out of the Closet?

I invite you to take some time and consider anything that may be causing you shame. How could you share this with someone? And how could you start to question the thoughts that surround your shame?

If you want help, join us at one of the weekly Open Sessions.

Have a great week,

“Secrets cry out for inquiry. You can’t be free if you’re hiding. And in the end, the things we’re ashamed of turn out to be the greatest gifts we have to give.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is It True?

Further reading: How Do You Do The Work on Shame?

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.