September 21, 2016—Day 264 (WD 545)

Sunrise Pages September

Wisdom, Dear Creator –

I’m up before dawn this morning; actually up with my wife, who starts each of her workdays this early, before dawn.  For me, though, I’ve been awake for a bit, unable to sleep, thinking about my yesterday.

I’m experiencing shame.  It’s a powerful emotion for me.  Perhaps not everybody is so triggered by shame, but I understand that because I’m sensitive to it, shame can have a tight grasp on me.

Because shame can be so charged, emotionally, I know that I’ve seen it being used to influence, in social situations; as well as to “motivate,” in moments of learning and development.

When a parent asks a child, “What’s wrong with you?  Don’t you have any common sense?”  When a manager says to an employee, “What?  You should already know this.”  Or, when one friend says to another, “Are you kidding me?  You’ve never done that before?”

When we are already struggling with inexperience and a lack of knowledge regarding something, there is an inference that can be drawn from these kinds of responses – that we are at fault; that we are inadequate and deficient.  It is reasonable to infer that the expectation is that we should already know; that we have not been paying enough attention, not been studious enough, aren’t smart enough, and haven’t done our due diligence.

Shame is often used as a “tool” of instruction, because we ourselves know shame; because others have shamed us in similar fashion.

One of the things I’m looking at this morning is where shame shows up for me – not just when others shame me, but when I put shame on myself; and, maybe hardest of all, when I shame others, perhaps without consciously realizing it.

When we are asked the question – “How do you not know this already?!” – Well, for me, I feel ashamed; and, I also don’t feel safe to ask future questions.  Anything that I don’t know, haven’t learned, and possibly haven’t even been taught, is now “my fault;” so, I become really reluctant to ask questions that reveal what I don’t know, because of the negative, judgmental response I expect.

Now, it’s also very easy for me to just doubt myself about this; to think that I’m just too sensitive, that I should toughen up and just learn all this stuff that I’m supposed to know already.

But, here’s the thing – I know that the best environment for learning and growing is one where it’s safe to ask questions; one where we all support each other.  That’s how we all move forward and rise.  That’s how we all contribute.  That’s how we all learn from each other; how we all connect and grow.


So, Today’s Prompt:

Dear One, do you recognize where shame may reside in your life?

It can often be pretty obvious where we are feeling shamed by others.

What we may be less likely to see is where we are placing shame on ourselves – often the pre-emptive voices of our “everybody” that we use to criticize ourselves before anyone else gets the chance.

Even harder to notice, and admit, is where we may be unintentionally shaming in others.

If we feel shame, it is pretty likely that we will use shame with others, until we are really vigilant and aware.

It is worth examining.


Addressing shame is an opportunity to communicate compassion and respect, and it can really change the culture of a relationship or an institution.  Creating a safe space for all!  Thanks for the lesson, Dear Guides!

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