People Who Do Not Deserve to Hear Your Shame Story

We need to look before we take the vulnerability leap and choose carefully who we open up to.

In the book Gifts of Imperfection “we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm. We want solid connection in a situation like this. Something akin to a sturdy tree. Firmly planted in the grand. We want to avoid the following – ‘ the friend who hears the story, she gasps and confirms how horrified you should be. Then there is awkward silence. Then, you have to make her feel better ”.

I am still in shame and now I am one less friend down. You are gone.

“The friend that responds with sympathy. I feel so sorry for you. Rather than empathy. I get it. I feel with you and I have been there. If you want to see a shame cyclone turn deadly. Turn one of these at it. You poor thing….yes ”

“Or the incredibly passive aggressive person. The southern person of sympathy. Bless your heart”.

That gives me the shivers when you say that. “I am fixing to tear you down and God is on my side”. It is the worst.

“The friend who needs you to be the pillar of worthiness and authenticity. She can’t help because she is to disappointed in your imperfections”. Because you have let her down.


The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability She scolds “how did you let this happen?”

The friend who is all about making it better and out of her discomfort refuses to acknowledge that you can be crazy and make terrible choices. “You are exaggerating” . The person says “It was not bad”.

The friend who confuses connection with the opportunity to one up you. “That is nothing. Listen to what happened to me”.

So when you open yourself up in you are vulnerable enough to share something that has shamed you. What are you really looking for?

I am looking for the person who loves me, not despite my vulnerabilities and imperfections, but because of it. I am looking for what I call, “move the body friend”. I am looking for the forks who show up and wade through the deep with me. I think it is a myth that you could have more than one or two of those.

The TV commercials that show 15 people laughing and doing that kind of stuff. No. You have one person in your life and you can say, “I just told a bold face lie to someone you care about and have no way out of it. I am in a shame storm of epic proportions. You have one person who can say “alright, lets do this thing”. I am with you. I have done it. Let’s talk it through”.

You are so lucky.

If you have two or three. That is, it. Forget it. Lottery.

What we all do. Myself included. We steamroll over those people. To get the attention and appreciation of the people who will never show up to us like that. You might be with me all the time. But those forks at the mall, they are the ones I am really worried about.

Trying to please or prove yourself to them. We are all capable of being these friends. But, especially if someone tells us a story of someone who gets up into our own shame. That is when it hits the nerve. Right. Your human. Imperfect and vulnerable. It is hard to practise compassion when we are struggling with our own authenticity. Or when our own worthiness is off balance.

Do you know what means the most to me? If I go to someone with my shame story, and my whole mantra is “you share with people who have earned the right to hear your story”.

Dam. That is good.

You have to earn the right. It is an honour to hold space for me when I am in shame. So I am in shame.

Let us just pause for moment….because this is why people can so messed up and violated. It is like the Bible says, “Casting your pearls before swine” (or Pigs). Offering yourself up to people who don’t deserve to have that offering.

You have to think long and hard about “who has had the right to hear that story” and “who am I in a relationship with who can bear the weight of that story”.


And if I share someone, and they come back with one of those bad, not helpful, not empathic answers. And then a week later, a day later, they call me and say “I did not show up for you. You were so much in my stuff. I could not be with you in that”. That means even more to me. We are not going to do empathy perfectly. We are not going to have the right response every time. Does that make sense?

Yes it does. This is so overwhelmingly powerful. I need to take a break.

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02 March 2021

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Brene Brown

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Journal about moments of shame in your own life and how you share shame in your own life.

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