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When I realised I was using shame to try and change people

Eagles Rest Farm, Dwellingyup

Yesterday I had a little moment. It was just a subtle little comment but as I walked away I thought “Why did I even say that?”

The comment was about a little baby girl and my baby girl, the comment was a comparison to something so silly, small and insignificant but I knew that my passive aggression was coming from a place of shame not freedom.

Then this morning I wrote an email, started a conversation about something for next year and the dialogue was so positive.

Then a last little line I threw in at the end was a strike made in word form that was so unnecessary. A sly comment, a shy little dig, something so beige that you would miss it if you weren’t looking for it.

But I remembered.

Post email guilt.

I went back and wrote an email to readjust my judgement.

I tried to make it right again.

The truth is though once words are spoken, we cannot eat them up and take them back inside. In fact, they are not birthed as they escape our lips, they are seeded in our minds when we think thoughts of injustice, pride, shame and malice.

Lately I have been so aware though of old shame patterns that I used to use to try and change people. You see I worked previously in a work culture that was full of passive aggressive behaviours and patterns.

People would say yes, but then really mean no and go and tell other people why they said yes, but they wanted to say no and how annoyed they are with the person, because why did they make me say yes, when I should have said no. You know what I’m talking about. A culture that is supposed to be so honest, vulnerable and forgiving. That is actually the complete opposite. Quiet meetings, whispered words, untruths, email wars, digs, “she said, he said”.

Have you been surrounded by that culture?

Quiet corridor conversations that we justified in the name of processing and freedom of speech, but in actuality they were just gossip and should have been said in the meeting that the topic had been raised in.

Shame culture,

Passive Aggression.

They follow companies and cultures through seasons of great growth and seasons of great grief.

I have made a decision of late however, that I will not continue this pattern or behaviour in my life anymore and I refuse to make it a culture in my family.

Last night watching a TV show that I have been devouring lately Madam Secretary she quoted St Augustine

” The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it, just let it loose; it will defend itself.”

I refuse to micro manage my family to the point where they are shamed into thinking that if they just keep me happy then peace can be maintained in our abode.

I refuse to spend my days with careless comments that make people feel internally beaten by my comparison and competition.

I refuse to be someone who believes these patterns of shaming people and trying to control them with words is something that is okay, because it is not.

The greatest lesson in change, is acknowledgement and as hard as it is to publicly say what I am saying, the power of honesty brings great change and opportunity for accountability.

“We cannot grow when we are in shame, and we can’t use shame to change ourselves or others.” Brené Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame

The funny thing about shaming people through passive aggressive communication patterns, is that it honestly sounds so nice. We don’t want to have a confrontation, we don’t want to say the truth, so we just nod our heads and then go and talk to someone in a hidden corner about how frustrated we are.

Passive Aggression, the urban dictionary describes it this way;

A defence mechanism that allows people who aren’t comfortable being openly aggressive get what they want under the guise of still trying to please others. They want their way, but they also want everyone to still like them.

Shame, is about how we feel in a certain situation and the way we shame people is through words such as should, why haven’t you, couldn’t you, why not?

It is a fine line between being honest and what is the intention behind our words and the way we wield them.

I am not a counsellor, a psychologist, but I am a Mum, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a worker who is on a mission to grow into every part of my purpose that is available to me.

I long to live a whole hearted, connected life, that I own up to my behaviours and my stuff. I want to be a leader who is fully aware of her faults and is living a life that is changing, growing and maturing.

I am not afraid to own up to my stuff.

I am not afraid any more of failure.

I am so ready to let a lot of stuff go.

How about you?

What communication patterns do you struggle with?



4 thoughts on “When I realised I was using shame to try and change people

  1. High praise for this post Amanda. It’s the higher path to walk but well worth it for all. Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much for reading Karen.

  2. Big reality check – Boom! How many times have I said yes then whinged in a hall way? Is that who I want to be? Funny thing is we have taught our children not to do that – at all – truth is best always. My journey at the moment is full of self analysis – is this mine to share? Will I add to the atmosphere in a positive way if I open my mouth?
    Vey brave write up – thank you

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