I am no stranger to failure.
To screwing up.
To making dumbass decisions.
To owning them.
Picking myself up.
Shaking it off and moving in a better direction.
But, this recent bout of stupidity has brought me to an all-time level of shame and embarrassment that I just could not shake.
I considered my options:
Wearing a paper bag over my head.
Moving to a new town. Country. Continent.
Changing my name. My hair. My identity.
Never leaving my house again.
Avoiding all contact with humans.
Joining a monastery. Or maybe the circus.
Looking into the benefits of addiction.
Hiding under my covers with a tiny vent for air.
For the past few weeks, these seemed like reasonable options.
Shame does that.
It makes ridiculous things seem completely rational.
Shame seems necessary. It almost seems righteous.
As if it can make you better. Smarter. More immune to future stupidity.
But it won't. It can't.
Shame doesn't whip you into amazing-ness. It breaks you down. Beats you up. It depletes you of the necessary ingredients of emotional health.
Shame isn't the byproduct of failure. It is the cause.
And if we truly want success - we've got to drop our shameful stories. We've got to let go of our embarrassments. We've got to see the smarts in our stupids.
Success requires accepting what we've done and why.
It requires having compassion for who we are.
Who we've been.
And who we're becoming.
Self-respect and acceptance aren't just perks of a good life.
They are the fundamental pre-requisites.