This week I was speaking with a client who was feeling like a failure. “Am I ever going to get this?” she asked me. “Maybe I don’t have what it takes….”
I was startled by her change in mood because the week before she had been very enthusiastic about, and open to, the potential of her new position.
“This seems odd….” I ventured, “Did something happen?”
It turned out that she – in a moment of feeling excited about her recent personal growth—had confided to a colleague about mistakes she had made in the past.
In that moment, her colleague had appeared supportive. Later in the week, however, he had (Let’s hope in a moment of low blood sugar…) said to her, “It’s really not surprising that X happened. You seem to be someone who brings this on herself.”
There aren’t enough emojis in the world to convey what my face looked like when I heard that.
After a breath I said, “That’s not fair. He’s not allowed to weaponize things that were said in a moment of confidence.”
After some talk, she agreed. Even more bravely, she agreed to return to the conversation and let him know that using those mistakes to shame her in the future would not be tolerated.
Was this easy to do? No. And I’m guessing if you’ve had a similar experience you’ve found it just as difficult—few things in the world are as soul-destroying as shame.
And while I sincerely hope you never find yourself on the receiving end of a comment like the one above, should it occur I offer you this phrase,
“Don’t weaponize my shame.”
Interested in learning how to pull out of a shame spiral? Check out “Every Saint Has a Past and Every Sinner Has a Future”