Updated: Mar 20, 2021
This article was written by my amazing sister in Christ Jannelle. She is an amazing, vibrant, creative woman. I hope that you not only check out this piece but the rest of her work and story!
As a journey writer I use personal + professional experiences to help my readers create a space for self acceptance, self love, + motivation to become. After experiencing the rollercoaster of church culture + finding my way to authentic relationship with God, my hope is to help others through that journey of evolving + realigning to find facts + freedom in who God says they are. Graduating from Millersville University in 2016 with a Bachelor's in Social Work, I began my career working with at-risk-youth, sex trafficking survivors, + leaned into shelter work. In 2019 I received a Masters in Social Work + am currently working at my local family shelter focusing on mental health. Learn more about me on my page.
There I was, sitting at the edge of my bed on a Sunday morning staring blank outside the window as the college students made their way back on campus after the weekend. It was what some would say "a perfect day" out: birds singing, fresh cool breeze sneaking through the crack of the window onto my soft skin, and the sun staring back while making its way through the tight spaces in-between the pale clouds. My empty gaze lasted just a few more seconds before my phone started buzzing - I could feel the vibrations on the bed that encouraged the knot in my stomach. Uninterested in knowing whose anger was waiting for me, I took my phone and quickly put it on DND, then tossed it to the other side of the bed. My phone bounced onto the floor. "Don't worry, I hate me too," I said out loud as I predicted what could be waiting for me on the screen. Slowly making my way to the kitchen I thought of the meetings I'd have with my RA's later that night and how draining the thought of homework was. Grad school and work should not have to compete with my hot mess right now, I thought. Pouring coffee into a mug while thinking about all the Sundays I would be getting ready to go to church instead of drowning in anxiety, I lost the desire to drink it, and slammed the pot on the counter yelling, "How the hell did I get here?! How the hell did this happen?! How the hell did I go from "leading worship" to getting wrapped up in this weird "entanglement" with this married man?!" Shame and guilt: Two words that go hand in hand and often closer than a pair of twins after birth. They have the potential to put a pause on life, keep you trapped, cultivate self hate, and if left unaddressed, they will deceive you into thinking you are no longer worthy of sunny days, loving relationships, or authentic connection. Long after the events that have occurred, taking a shot at moving forward means having the courage to take on a new mindset. To make things clear I want to remind you that shame + guilt are not the same. Guilt says: "Wow, I did something wrong." Shame says, "Wow, I AM something wrong." Guilt may have potential to move us toward change because it does not define us, it is behavioral based. Shame aims to cling itself to our core and identity, attacking our worthiness + belonging. I want to let my readers know shame is universal. Women, however, are more prone to shame because of the societal norms, unrealistic expectations, and stubborn paradigms toward women; There is plenty of research that dives into the way shame has had an impact on women starting from the time we were born (Brene Brown, 2008). When sharing this chapter of my story, it is with the intention to help women who have not only had to wrestle with the universal shame we all experience, but also the shame that comes with making decisions (like participating in an affair or addiction), that have left many women [or men] silent and isolated. This is for you. Here are 5 ways you can move on from shame to live a life grounded in love, peace, + power. 1. CHANGE YOUR NEGATIVE SELF TALK
After making the decision that I no longer wanted to cut myself short by engaging with him, setting boundaries, sitting and apologizing to the people I hurt, it was the self talk that I had to get a grip on. It was so easy to judge myself and say mean things toward myself. I would often rehearse the many hate text messages, hate emails, and conversations. I would take on the labels/names and be angry toward myself for getting myself in this situation. I had already realized that I had betrayed myself with engaging in this, and I could not continue to betray myself with self hate and negative self talk. I got back to the things I use to do before I lost myself: WRITE. I would write positive affirmations, quotes from podcasts, bible verses, and anything that reflected who I was at my core. I would read these truths out loud and often. Before I knew it, whenever a negative thought about myself came to mind, I would quickly combat that thought with truth I've been writing and saying out loud. When it comes to changing your talk, it begins with your mind. I love to sing, so I made a playlist of songs that reflected the positivity toward myself that I was attempting to embrace. Along with changing your negative self talk by replacing it with positive affirmations, make sure you make a bomb playlist that includes Beyonce, Lizzo, and Rihanna on repeat. Let out all that negative energy through movement and words of power, even if its singing them! 2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU Shame and guilt may try to convince you that you are unworthy of true authentic connection with others, but those who love you will remind you that you are worthy. Isolation can be like second nature when living in shame. You feel you've caused so much heartache for others and would rather keep to yourself than add on more heaviness to someone- this is the shame game. Surrounding yourself with people who cultivate spaces of authenticity, share their short comings freely (because they are aware that no one is perfect), and understand life is a journey, is one of the most crucial decisions you must be intentional about. Safe community makes room for connection through sharing our very personal internal battles.
When we hide ourselves from others, we invite the shame cycle to continue. Making space for others in our lives, we quickly realize that the pain of hiding is far more greater than the pain of exposing and sharing our true feelings and struggles of shame. When we find safe relationships that give us permission to be authentic, we also welcome the "letting go" of mindsets, feelings, and false beliefs that do not belong.
3. REALIGN WITH THAT ______ WOMAN /MAN YOU TRULY ARE
I remember listening to the Shery and Nancy Show podcast while on a run and they mentioned the idea of "realigning with the _____ woman you truly are." They invited their listeners to fill in the blank with their own truths about who they truly were before the chaos of life. I thought to myself, I completely lost view of the powerful, ambitious, joyful, intelligent, resilient, and creative woman I AM. I had let shame keep my mind occupied. I started to engage in activities, passions, and causes that made my soul dance again.
Shame will keep you distracted from living life. Don't let it. Start engaging in things that reflect the ____ woman/man you are at your core. Doing so will give you new memories that are filled with moments that awaken your soul into thriving again.
Go ahead, fill in the blank: Realign yourself with that __________ woman/man you truly are.
4. SELF CARE IS TRULY THE BEST CARE
Get out and do the things that fill your cup. Period. Self care is crucial in combating shame simply because self care tells shame:
I AM WORTHY OF ____.
Self Care is the action that communicates the complete opposite of what shame is. Every time you do something that cares for your soul, heart, emotions, physical, and mental- you communicate to shame that you are still worthy of being cared for, despite your shortcomings-Which you are!
I got into running, journaling, meditation, hiking, reading books for fun, buying flowers + candles, taking long showers with my favorite songs playing loudly, therapy, dancing, eating good wholesome food, and laughs with my circle.
Only you can determine what true self-care is for you. As a busy person, I often felt the need to be productive and felt uneasy when I did any of the above without something tangible to prove I used my time wisely. To help embrace self care I slowed down, I stayed true to my boundaries. I told myself it was okay to sit in silence and acknowledge my emotions. Self-care is all about the motive + expectation behind it. The only outcome I am expecting from this, is stillness, whole heartedness, and peace. That is selfcare.
5. TAKE IT TO GOD
When moving toward a new thing, overcoming a hard thing, or leaning into the unknown, you must go to the source that is all, and the source that is greater than yourself.
God is love. God is power. God is peace. God is joy. God is here now, + was there then. God is aware of your darkest days, + celebrates your brightest days. Taking the cares of my soul, the matters of my heart, and the stubbornness of my beliefs to God was and continues to be the game changer for my everyday thrive in life. In the middle of my shame and guilt, I remember whispering prayers under my breath while I went for a run, while I washed dishes, while I did my hair, while I drove to work. Every moment shame attempted to highjack my thoughts, I'd start to put it in God's hands saying, "God, you know me, you see me, and you love me. I know you have better for me than this state of mind. I know there is more." Taking your cares to God, is powerful in that you are actively putting into the atmosphere that there is more ahead and because of that you will continue to hope for a brighter day.
Your story does not end here. I see you girl [guys], you're not alone, you are not your mistakes, and you too are worthy of sunny days, loving relationships, and authentic connection with others, with God, and with Yourself. Leave that shame + guilt behind, move forward. Come out of hiding, and into living a life grounded in love, peace, + power.
For those of you struggling with shame, I wrote this, then made the poster for you.
to enter in the raffle to win it click here.
This is an everyday reminder that you can move forward and grow.
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