The other day, I had a rare shame attack.

Right now, I have a very full plate. I’m taking five classes for my MBA; I’m investing a lot of time in the immigrant solidarity movement; and I’m as committed as ever to taking good care of my clients, my family, and myself. I love everything that’s on my plate, and while I’m pretty skillful at saying no, this is one of those moments in which I’m called to say yes—a lot.

However, because of everything that’s on my plate, I haven’t been able to spend as much time networking or marketing as I typically do, and this has meant fewer clients than usual. Overall, I’m okay with that.

But as I listened for the umpteenth time to Brene Brown’s TED talk, Listening to Shame, for a class recently, I started to cry. Hearing her speak, I realized— Wow. Yes. Even I, who teach about shame, even I, who for many years have relied on practices to almost entirely silence my inner Judge… even I was experiencing shame around living up to my expectations and finding time to do it all.

All this got me asking myself— How can you spot shame when you don’t yet know it’s starting to creep up? How can you tell when the inner Judge is speaking up?

This question is important because what I’ve learned from my personal experience, supporting my clients, and lots of study is that awareness is the key to letting go of shame. When you shine the light on your inner Judge, it begins to lose its power.

When he was four, my son named his Judge “the Troll.” Just like a troll under a bridge, when you look below the surface and examine the Judge, you discover that it’s way less scary than you thought it was. And you get breathing room to reconnect with your truth.

No matter how aware you become, shame can unexpectedly creep up unexpectedly, and the key to moving beyond shame is to be able to spot its clues.

It can be tricky to tell the difference between your inner Judge and the truth, though. The Judge can be so cunning, convincing you that you really should be someone different than you are.

Two clues I rely on to spot shame are my physical sensations and thoughts. Physical signs include tight muscles, hot skin, quick voice, and shallow breath. And, I know the Judge is speaking up when I hear these thoughts— You’re not (fill in the blank— attractive, successful, smart, a good enough mother, or just plain good—) enough… Who do you think you are? How could you have done that?

When you discover that your Judge is talking, I invite you to take these three simple steps to soothe your shame and reconnect with yourself:

First, get centered in your body, which may mean taking a deep breath, feeling your feet, relaxing your jaw, or any number of subtle shifts you can make to feel grounded and present. Click here to download a free audio recording to help you get centered.

Next, as if it were a little child, send the Judge to their room. You may need to use the voice of a reprimanding parent and say something like, “No! I will not tolerate this. Be quiet!” Or, you may be softer and say, “I love you, and no. You are not allowed to speak this way.” Whatever tone you take, let the Judge know they’re not welcome.

Finally, get curious about what you need to learn at this moment. You can ask yourself the following questions—What do I need now? How am I being called to grow now? What’s my next step forward?

As soon as I realized that my inner Judge was speaking up, I paused and took these steps. When I let go of the expectation of having to do it all, I arrived at an even deeper commitment to my big projects. And I immediately gave myself permission to say no to several smaller tasks, as well.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts— How do you discern the difference between your inner Judge and your truth? What are the signs and signals from your body, heart, and mind?

Click here to learn more about how confidence coaching can help you let go of shame and quiet your inner critic for good. Much love!

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