Projecting Shame

Brene Brown has spent much of her career emphasizing the power of vulnerability and the destruction of shame and blame.  She expressed this in a couple of TED talks that have helped transform my perspective.

I know – I am a guy.  What in the hell am I doing talking about shame and vulnerability?

I asked myself the same thing – but this stigma is too pervasive in our culture.  Of vulnerability being left up to the female.  And with the strength and toughness being a requirement of being a man.

And it’s so damaging.  And it leads us to a life of less fulfillment.  And it pushes the divide between us.

Because without awareness of these feelings and how they might effect us – we tend to project onto others.

And I am paraphrasing, but I heard something that hit me the other day – we tend to criticize and be most judgmental of others in areas we are most critical of ourselves.

We project our own feelings onto others.  And we do it in a way to make ourselves feel better.

Take me for instance – I had been struggling to make an impact in the soccer game.  I had a made a few mistakes.  Missed a few easy opportunities.  And what did I do?

Projected on my teammate.  Fixated on something he screwed up.  Shamed him for something minor that happened.

And it wasn’t until later, and I was out of the moment until I realized what happened.  I was projecting my own insecurities onto them.  I was blaming them to make myself feel better about my lack of good play.  And it made me feel better in the moment – for that minute I was projecting and blaming.

But after that?  It hurts everyone.  It drives us further apart.  It makes the one receiving the blame turn inwards.  Or worse – they may project it onto someone else.

Don’t start this loop – break it.

When you catch yourself with the tendency to pass judgement or blame – turn inwards.

Focus on what’s going on inside yourself that causes you to feel the need to project it outwards.

And don’t be afraid to talk about the feeling with someone else – bringing the shame to light very often diminishes the effect.

Just don’t shine the spotlight on someone else as a form of mood repair.

It only serves as a way to drive us further apart – and amplify the shame.




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