Shame and quicksand may not appear to have anything in common at first glance which is why it is critical to not move quickly beyond the title of this article. Shame is experienced as humiliating, painful, and embarrassing and typically comes from a deep sense of having done something wrong. Quicksand has the potential to you in when the pressure on it is too great.
Both shame and quicksand can debilitate you and they can also render you helpless and hopeless. Shame is cunning in the way it shows up in your life the same way that quicksand appears unexpectedly without any warning signs. Unfortunately, in both cases, the time to reach out to others for help comes too late. Once you are experiencing deep shame or being swallowed up by quicksand, it may very well be too late for you to recover.
Shame often brings about depression and anxiety which are challenging illnesses that continue to be misunderstood by many people. The symptoms of depression only make shame worse and usually lead to more severe behaviors like withdrawing, isolating, and rejecting. Quicksand has the potential to do the same thing to you if you are not careful enough with your self-care. All too quickly, you could find yourself going from shame to depression to being caught in the grip of quicksand.
For some, there may be some warning signs that signal impending shame or depression. These warning signs may be familiar as a result of previous experiences or they may be new and misunderstood at first. In either case, your self-awareness is a great way to monitor and prevent a deep shame experience.
When you find yourself withdrawing and isolating as a result of shame, depression, or quicksand, it is essential to have that one friend who will throw you the life preserver or reach out with a stick long enough for you to grab while in the quicksand. My experience has been that friend is the one that I trust the most and shared deeply with during our relationship, they know me inside and out and are there for me unconditionally.
In order to be pulled up from the shame or out of the quicksand, we all need someone who is going to see our true self and tell us that they love and accept us as we are, not as we often portray to the outside world. The antidote to hiding out, running away, or disengaging is that one loving friend who wants the best for you, no matter what happens.
No matter how positive I am in my life and no matter how much success I have in my life, I have fallen into the quicksand several times in my life. I now can see it for what it is and the connection it has to shame. I feel the pain emotionally and in my mindset when it hits me full on. I rarely catch myself before I am in the danger zone for shame and quicksand.
Recently, I pulled way back with a trusted friend and isolated, withdrew, and hid. She was patient with me all the while knowing what I was going through and waiting for the perfect time to stretch out her hand and heart along with the long strong stick. As a result of trusting her, I came out to see how she might support me while I was in shame and quicksand. She gently and lovingly guided me to see the way out of shame and quicksand. I look forward to emerging from both stronger, more resilient, and more trusting.
Many of us find ourselves in dark places or places that challenge our positive mindset from time to time. The fact that we find ourselves in these situations is not shameful and others will love us through our escape from the shame or quicksand. Asking for help and relying on others will support you in being released from the grip of shame and depression as well as fighting your way out of quicksand.
Quicksand has a way of showing us how to effectively handle shame.
1. Allow shame to have its timeline, pushing against it or trying to control it will only make you sink deeper into it
2. Ask for help from trusted friends who you know have the stick long enough and strong enough to reach you and pull you out if it
3. Stay focused on a positive outcome and visualize yourself experiencing the satisfaction of successfully coming out of it
As leaders, we are expected to show up in certain ways. I have found it most beneficial to my leadership style, my well being, and those around me to allow my life to go with the flow. The resistance of my youth no longer serves me and it has been replaced with more patience and acceptance. Together they shorten my time in shame and quicksand.
Value your self-awareness and live in the flow and rhythm that best supports your positive mindset. Trust that others have a stick ready for you when you need it most.
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