When you are the solitary introvert or HSP amongst many who are not. When you are the quiet one and your actions or needs are looked on as being off or odd. When you are looked on as not fitting in, and the sole justification is because of what everyone else is doing. When your different needs are seen as wrong because and simply because no one else present has them, and everyone else is doing something else. When societal expectations tell you that something is not quite right in how you show up, and you are judged accordingly.
Just remember, you have have the right to be who you are.
Two tools that I would like to offer here can help you build resilience against the messages that you are receiving and to trust in your own worthiness.
Tackling the beast
Feeling inadequate and alone is a debilitating experience that can take the wind out of the sails of even the most well intentioned endeavour. These beliefs can feed a lack of worthiness, and knock our self-esteem. At the same time we stand there knowing that how we feel and act is who we are. We are not trying to be awkward or act different, this is simply who we are.
If I build a belief and trust in who I am and my own sense of self-worth, it is harder for the outside world to sway me when I’m challenged. A sense of worthiness is always a work in progress. Just as you conquer one critique, another challenge that you hadn’t dealt with before will find its way in and you will feel knocked down again. But as long as the wish is to build your worthiness is there, it will only get stronger with time.
Fear is the beast that gets in the way of us believing in who we are. Fear of loosing connection with those around us. That in turn feeds into shame, the shame of being different, of standing out and being alone. Of being different and being criticized for it.
Those who have a strong sense of self-worth have the,
- courage to be different and accept themselves for who they are.
- compassion for themselves first, not despite others, but recognizing that for worthiness to be there, they have to have compassion for self. It has to start at home.
- vulnerability, to fully embrace vulnerability with a recognition that without it, they cannot embrace their self-worth. One cannot exist without the other.
This path to self-worth is not necessarily comfortable, but it is necessary. Without one the other cannot exist.
The critique of others or even simply judging ourselves against others will see the rise of shame within us. The path to self-worth sees one having to face the beast of shame.
Shame corrodes the part of us that believes we can do and be better.
~Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
Shame quite often gets mixed up with its near relative, guilt. There is a difference between the two and it lies in the object of identification. Shame identifies with self, guilt identifies with action.
- Shame - “I am bad, because of an action I did or did not do.”
- Guilt - I did something bad, ie “I broke the vase.”
Guilt is an honest admission of an action that I did. Shame is identifying with the action to the degree that I believe that it speaks to the nature of my character.
If we are to build our self-worth, we need to build a defense against shame, catching it when it arises and countering the story that it is telling us…and that we are believing. Essentially pulling the rug out from under its feet.
Shame resilience as developed by Brené Brown is made up of four stages,
- Recognizing shame and understanding the triggers - get to know how shame shows up for you. How do you feel in your body when shame is presence? What needs to be going on for shame to show up in your life?
- Practicing critical awareness - counter the stories in you that are feeding your shame. How realistic are the expectations that you are putting on yourself? Do I really want to be like that? Start pulling the rug out from under your shame by telling the true story.
- Reaching out - find an ally, someone who you can trust and who will listen. Someone who loves and respects you for who you are. Someone who will not try and solve the problem, who will not judge you but will listen and hear your story. Connection wounds shame.
- Speaking shame - naming shame’s presence. Shame does not like that. Speak to how you feel. Ask for what you need.
The bumpy path
This is not a comfortable path. Dealing with fear, shame and vulnerability will never take us into a comfortable place, but it will take us to a courageous place. It is from a courageous place that we can start to build connection with who we are and stand in our own power. Then despite the voices that come from outside we are no longer the lone one amongst many. We might be different in our needs and how we act, but at the same time we are at home with ourselves.
From that place I can say, "I am worthy."