Adventures in the Art of Un-Shaming MYSELF (+ the interview that came out of it)

written by Bari Tessler November 1, 2012

I stumbled into my shame this week. And, I climbed myself out of that black hole, and am reporting from the other side. There’s a happy ending, plus a great interview to share with you.

Let me back up. As you may know, I recently named my “superpower” (thanks Andrea Scher for the invitation). After reading through testimonials, surveying friends, and digging deep, I landed upon this: My superpower is the Art of Unshaming.

Well, friends, sometimes I need to turn this gift towards myself (which is harder). Yep, I know a thing or two about shame. Even as I pronounce my unshaming mastery, it doesn’t mean I’m done with shame in my own life. Shame happens, and that’s okay. I’m more interested in how we relate to it, how we learn to move through it quicker, understand it fuller, and move on.

Shame pic

What threw me into my shame?

A skype interview.

The thing is, I LOVE being interviewed and giving presentations, and have felt high as a kite after so many of them lately. I have walked away feeling deeply connected on the inside, and soaking in rave reviews on the outside.

This time was different, and it surprised me. I walked away feeling downright crappy about my experience, trotting down the rabbit hole of shame. I felt disconnected, disingenuous, messy, unpolished, inarticulate, unseen, and extra sensitive. Not my favorite feelings to feel.

As this was all occurring, I had the sense that something big was happening inside me, and that I needed to name and honor all of it, right then and there.

UN-SHAMING, Step One: Name it.

“I stumbled and I’m feeling shame.” I am having a shame moment. But I am not engulfed by it.

As soon as we start to name it (which is a brave moment), the shame begins to dissolve, and clarity comes. Shame can start to take a seat next to us. We can give it some tea and chocolate, and start a conversation.

UN-SHAMING, Step Two: Allow it.

Can I be ok with this? Can I recognize that I’m not always going to perform at 100%, or be connected with myself 100%? Can I be okay with 95% connected, empowered, inspiring, and articulate?

No really, can I be ok with this?

I wasn’t sure.
I needed to process the experience.

UN-SHAMING, Step 3: Strive to Know Thyself Better

In the face of all this yuck, I knew I had to go a little deeper into how and why it was coming up. What was this experience here to shed light on, in myself? How can I use this shame to deepen in self-intimacy?

First, I had to acknowledge: Okay, I’ve hardly slept this week (because my son was under the weather), and I know this affects my sensitivity levels.

Next, I turned to the Enneagram, one of the maps I find very useful in self-inquiry. So I opened up my special blue book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, and went digging for clues.

For those of you familiar with the Enneagram, I am a 4, with a 3 wing. (If you’re not familiar, do check it out!)

Note: Like anything, the Enneagram is a beautiful tool if used wisely. We want to use these tools to deepen our self-inquiry, understanding our behaviors and what drives them – so that we can transcend and be freer, more whole versions of ourselves. (We want to be careful not to use these maps to judge ourselves or others, or pigeon-hole into patterns that don’t serve.)

Each Enneagram type has characteristics that define them at their most integrated (most healthy), and least integrated (least healthy).

Here’s an ultra brief explanation of my Enneagram Type(s), excerpted from The Wisdom of the Enneagram:

[quote]Fours have a creative disposition, passion, empathy, emotional depth and are self-aware and sensitive. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.

Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their Best: self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others.[/quote]

After this interview, I was in an unhealthy 4 place: Feeling very sensitive, feeling like something is odd or wrong with me, feeling unable to connect. I felt unseen and a bit victimy (“Why was he was asking me ‘abstract’ questions? Doesn’t he know that my true wisdom doesn’t come through in these type of questions?”). Then my unhealthy 3 part was upset that I did not perform well and is concerned what others will think of me.

This was all very helpful information for me. Gaining this understanding helped me distance myself from the shame with more awareness, and more choice around my reactions.

UN-SHAMING, Step 4: Communicate + Reach Out.

We need people and community to help us grow, learn, and heal. Friends, family, therapist.

Sometimes when shame comes up, the best thing to do is to reach out directly to the person who triggered shame in you. Consider whether there is the possibility for safety, engagement, honoring, and understanding.

Please note: this is not always the best route – please really tune in and ask yourself if this is a healing path, or not. If it does feel safe, this is likely the most bang for your un-shaming buck.

This was exactly the case for me. Luckily, the person interviewing me is a gem of a human being. Really, top notch heart-full, wonderful man named Bernardo (yes, you’ll meet him soon) .

I dared greatly, and reached out to Bernardo, shared my experience with him and asked him about options.

I was scared to do it, I’ll admit. (Was I being too sensitive? Could i just ignore it and let the interview go out as-is? Do people really communicate this way in business?).

Awesome things happened after I pressed send:

  • He immediately wrote me back, and within a few minutes we were hopping on Skype to unpack the experience with one another. Turns out, he too walked away with some hesitations about the interview. He shared that he can get linear in moments, and he was noticing that I wasn’t answering all of his questions directly, or in a linear way.
  • He said he just watched the whole thing and decided to not edit any of it because at the end of the day, the final whole interview was really good. Especially in the parts that were the most uncomfortable, where he really challenged me to answer the ultra-abstract, outside-of-my-comfort-zone questions: “Bari, what is the meaning of life?” and “How do you define wealth?” He said my answers brought him to tears, and that he knew his community would really resonate with it.
  • He sent me the interview. He gave me full choice about whether to re-record the interview, send it out as is, or scrap the whole thing.

I felt seen and honored, and the whole exchange felt connecting and beautiful to me. I’d say it was a success moment of ‘daring greatly’, and I was almost complete with my un-shaming process.

UN-SHAMING, Step 5: Actively let it go. Get Present.

Now I was solidly grounded in self-awareness, and the wonderful luxury of being seen by Bernardo himself.

It was time to actively let that shame go, to stop holding on, to send it down the river.

I watched the skype-video interview by candlelight after setting a clear intention:

Be kind. Be gentle with myself. See it from an outside perspective. Unshame.

Shocker: I really liked it! (Yes, the link to the recording is below.)

From a loving, gentle place, I could enjoy myself and the interview. I did not look like a moron after all. I re-directed the questions (even the abstract-like questions) much better than I thought or I felt in the moment.

Could i have said things differently or better? Sure. Would I try to not close my eyes, in future interviews, when i am being asked a deep question? Probably not, because that is how I connect with myself.

Maybe this interview was just perfect the way it was . . .

UNSHAMING, Step 6: Notice how far you’ve come.

Our patterns generally don’t simply disappear one day, never to return again. But when we’re paying attention, we can watch them soften each time and notice, “Oh, it’s you again…have a seat next to me with some tea and chocolate”.

Throughout this whole experience, I’ve been reminded me of the ‘failed’ publishing event that sent me in a huge tail spin 5 years ago. (I wrote a little bit about it here, in response to this: “Tell us a story when you embraced your vulnerability and came out the other side”.)

Even though there was arguably less at stake this round, I could still see how I’ve changed and deepened my relationship with myself since then. This time, I had so many more tools, more awareness, more ability to un-shame myself, much quicker. This turned out to be a completely different experience, and feels like just another level of healing that and moving forward.

Note: Yes, we can spontaneously end an old cycle, forgive and complete old painful feelings in an instant. I have experienced this and have seen it in others. And, in many cases, old thoughts and feelings still linger, even in small ways, or with years in between. Ultimately these inklings are asking us to feel it, dissolve it, and respond to it in a different way this time.

So, are you ready to watch this fateful interview?

Click our smiling faces below to check it out. (Me + Bernardo Mendez of “Your Great Life TV” talking about Money Healing). I hope you enjoy it, and that my story here will help you to unshame yourself at every chance you get. May we all become masters at the Art of Unshaming.

bari + bernardo interview

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