• Gill Reed

Why we should stop shaming and start accepting

Photo by Ben Sweet on Unsplash

“I want you to tell me five things in the form of ‘I Am’ statements that you feel are true about yourself.”

She started crying as she tried to muster up the strength to come up with the words she wanted to say.

“These are just going to make me cry,” she said. “I hate feeling like this. I think so many bad things about myself and I can barely say anything positive without thinking about something negative.”

Have you ever been in this position with yourself or someone you know before? Have you ever looked at yourself and not believed that you are worthy or capable?

I really believe that so many people struggle with “finding themselves” or "accepting themselves" because there are thousands of people telling them that the identity they currently have isn’t enough. It’s not up to other people to form our identities.

We live in a world where we are constantly being shamed for feeling bad. “If you’re crying because you’re sad — just suck it up and do something that makes you happy.”

“If you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you hate what you see — just do something about it and make a better choice!”

Do you see what I mean? We have “mindset coaches” on Twitter and Instagram saying, “Stop complaining about your weight, income, depression, and body image when you aren’t doing anything about it. If you aren’t willing to put in the work, you must not want it as bad as you claim.”

I think you should feel what you feel. I think you should be your most authentic and vulnerable self no matter what. I also think you should work to be your very best self. Life is made up of choices, and ultimately you are in charge of the ones you decide to make each day. But we should never feel ashamed of what we are because someone else doesn’t agree with the identity we are choosing to live into.

We’re told to stop complaining, stop feeling sorry for ourselves, stop crying, and stop waiting. We’re told to suck it up and be different. We're told to be vulnerable, yet when we are, we're criticized for how we feel. While I somewhat agree with the idea of sucking it up and trudging forward in times of distress, I don’t agree with the way we’re told to do it.

While not everyone yells like this at people who are dealing with struggles — some people are much more compassionate about it — a majority of the social media posts I see try to push people to be better by using shame.

The hard truth is that nothing you do will be good enough for everyone. But it doesn’t need to be. It only needs to be good enough for you.

Some people are really trying their best. And trying your best is going to look totally different from someone else’s best, but it doesn’t make you any less worthy.

Who are we to judge the desires of others? Who are we to judge the circumstances of someone else and tell them to stop feeling the way they are feeling?

This realization came to me when a friend reached out to hold me accountable for something I posted on Twitter. I had retweeted a post that was talking down on people who worked in network marketing and referred to themselves as entrepreneurs. While it may be true — putting people down for calling themselves entrepreneurs doesn’t do anything for anyone except make it seem like I think I’m better than them.

Why make people feel bad about what they’re dealing with? If your goal is to help others, give them tools to make those choices. What does telling them to stop crying do? It makes them feel shame about who they are and what they’re dealing with.

Instead, tell them how you got out of a hard place in your life. Give them the steps that worked for you to lose weight or feel more confident. Tell them how you got out of that dark place in your life or how you found the courage to open up yourself to a new boyfriend or girlfriend after being hurt in the past.

We are not our thoughts and emotions. We are simply the beings that express them. I believe if we want to live positive lives and see other people make positive changes in their lives, we have to stop shaming them for the choices they are currently making and do our best to provide them with our own experiences in hope that maybe one day someone will connect with our words.

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