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How shame keeps you stuck - 16th September 2020


There is most definitely a connection between clutter and shame. I have lost count of the number of clients who told me words to the effect of "my clutter will be the worst you have ever seen!"


The dictionary defines shame as 'unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self. Also feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness and worthlessness'.

So if you feel shame around your clutter those negative feelings listed in the definition are likely to stop you taking any decluttering action. After all, when you feel powerless and worthless you are hardly likely to feel enthusiastic and energised, are you?

In this blog I will be quoting Brene Brown quite a lot. She is an American research professor who has studied courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. Her findings are fascinating and can give us all a lot of insight into our own behaviour. Find more from her on YouTube.

Brene says that guilt is "I did something bad", and that shame is "I AM bad."

Having felt shame myself I absolutely agree with this. Of course once you believe you ARE bad then the chances of you taking positive action are more or less zilch, don't you agree?


According to Brene Brown, shame can only exist where there is secrecy, silence, the perception of or reality of judgement.


So true! Secrecy and silence are partners for shame because the individual is convinced they will be judged for their situation.

Brene Brown's next shocker is that the antidote to shame is empathy!

Why is that so shocking? Because the only way to get empathy is by sharing your situation with others. Hence, silence and secrecy must no longer exist around the "shameful" situation. It becomes apparent that in order to speak up about your shame you need to have courage, but when you find that courage you will be met with empathy. Really what we are saying here is that shame exists in the dark. When you open up and let the light in, shame will shrivel up and cease to exist.

Imagine that a friend has something that causes her to feel shame, but she finds some courage and shares her situation with you. You would of course respond with empathy.


I am proof that being brave is the solution to shame

When I was 19 years old I endured a gynaecological examination that felt more like a violation. It prompted feelings of worthlessness. I was not treated with anything akin to sensitivity. To the consultant I was just another vagina. I became hysterical but I'm not even sure he noticed. For years I never spoke of this event as I felt so much shame around it. I believe I was already experiencing Vaginismus, a condition that makes vaginal penetration incredibly painful and that in itself became another layer of shame for me.

Ten years ago I found myself able to speak about this experience and my vaginismus. It was difficult but I did it and received a huge wave of empathy as a result. Since then I have continued to speak out and am finding it much easier these days. I do it because I know it is part of my healing and also my voice can help other women.


Shame and clutter


How can you be brave about shame in regard to any kind of clutter?

I think it's important to take a small step to begin with. Find people who you know will be understanding and empathetic. My Facebook group is a great place to start. All the members are there because they have clutter challenges of some kind. Whatever you share there will be Private and you will be met with understanding.

Of course you could also contact me directly - emailing is easier than phoning, perhaps? Remember, I have my own experience of shame. I know how it feels. Also, when you feel ready to give up on shame you are actually doing some holistic decluttering! Just think how much head space you will be freeing up!

I hope that if you are experiencing shame right now about either home or head clutter that reading this blog post has opened your eyes in regard to a way forward. It might not be easy exactly, but it does work! How can you be brave?




Keywords: shame, self-worth


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