I wanted to hide in shame…but I didn’t.
I have to get something off my chest.
It’s one of those things I have such shame about, it’s like a rock in the pit of my gut lately.
I am a horrible housekeeper. HORRIBLE.
You might have just giggled a little bit, an in ‘THAT’S what you’re so ashamed of??’ Or you might relate completely, it just depends!
But it really is a source of shame at the moment–which is exactly why I’m broadcasting it on the internet.
Because, as Brene Brown says, shame can’t survive being spoken.
It’s a real hot-button for me because I live in a culture where cleanliness and keeping a clean house are valued highly and perceivably add to your quality of character.
It’s a trigger for shame right now because we’ve been moving out of our house with the help of friends for most of the month of December.
And there’s nothing that will expose your housekeeping oversights and flat-out failures than moving ALL your worldly goods at once.
AND there’s nothing that will expose YOU like having most of the people in your circle of friends witness it firsthand.
Even thinking about it and talking about it right now kind of makes me want to throw up…which, again, is exactly why I’m outing myself.
Every time a piece of furniture was picked up, I’d want to run over and either cover the mess behind/underneath it or sweep it away from right under the person lifting the furniture. I didn’t of course, but the urge was strong.
“How did I let it get this way?” I would think.
“Why didn’t I do BETTER?”
“What’s WRONG with me?”
“They’re going to think so badly of me.”
“I’m so ASHAMED.”
“How can I FIX this??”
As I stood in the middle of my filthy house, with all my belongings being moved around by our friends, I realized the feelings I was having and the words I was thinking were EXACTLY the same as when I realized on Christmas break, my freshman year in college, HOW much weight I’d gained in the first 3 months of college.
They were exactly the same as when I realized, sitting in a classroom of my peers at the end of my Master’s in Teaching program, how I’d gained ten pounds of flab—right before my trip to Italy, in the middle of the summer. With summer dresses. And Italian beaches.
They were exactly the same as when the female doctor looked at me when I was 6 months postpartum and asked in a not-so-kind voice, “Exactly how much do you THINK you weigh?” and then had me climb on the scale to prove how much I’d underestimated the number.
They were exactly the same as when I put on my skinny jeans after Christmas break the first year I was a personal trainer, and felt the waistband cut into my stomach.
“How did I let it get this way?”
“Why didn’t I do better?”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“They’re going to think so badly of me.”
“I’m so ashamed.”
“How can I fix this??”
I think so many of us can relate to these feelings, these words.
We can relate to the feeling of suddenly realizing how far we’ve slipped, the shame that is hard on the heels of that sudden realization, of the next desperate desire to FIX what’s wrong IMMEDIATELY.
Except, just like with my mess of a house, it can’t be fixed by any single heroic, on-the-spot action.
A house doesn’t get accumulate all that dirt in a single day, or week; it accumulates it over a long period of time.
We don’t suddenly gain weight or lose our fitness in a single day, or week; it happens as a result of small choices that add up over time.
And we can’t fix either of those things overnight, as much as we’d love to!!
It takes progressive choices over time to get us into those situations, and it takes progressive choices over time to get us OUT of those situations.
It is SO hard, but the first step to changing is getting honest with ourselves.
We have to face our reality, own our past choices, but do it in a way that releases that feeling of shame from the situation…which means speaking our shame.
My house was a disaster because I wasn’t consistent enough with my (deep) cleaning efforts. I did not prioritize cleaning.
The state of my house on moving day was the result. Ugly? Yes. Uncomfortable? Oh HELL, yes.
But the state of my house was a result of the CHOICES I had made, NOT my quality of character.
Those other times when I had those (VERY uncomfortable) moments where I suddenly realized HOW much weight/inches I’d gained?
Same thing. The first reaction was shame. Then I’d get honest with myself.
–>I’d gained weight in college because I’d been eating too much pizza and beer and overdoing it at the lunch and dinner buffets and hadn’t exercise AT ALL.
–>I’d gained weight during my master’s program because I’d been overdoing it with comfort carb foods, and adding some calorie-dense morning and afternoon snacks to the mix…and not exercising AT ALL.
–>I’d been eating for comfort and company while at home alone with an infant on an isolated Army post in Louisiana, grazing throughout the day, and not exercising AT ALL.
–>I’d completely ditched my normal eating patterns and totally indulged in holiday foods and drinks and treats from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and exercised less than I normally would.
I’d made those CHOICES, over time, that resulted in some uncomfortable form of weight gain and an increase in my waistline.
But if my choices, not my character, were what got me INTO those situations, then it would be my choices, over time,that would get me OUT of those situations.
When we reframe our experiences into choices, not just feelings, we empower ourselves to change our experiences.
When we look at how our past choices have gotten us into our current circumstances, we give ourselves the power to make NEW choices that will get us what we want…over time.
In all truth, there’s no quick fix, no matter what any commercial, ad or marketer tell us.
‘Fixing’ takes time…and that’s OKAY!
Because during that time we get to learn about ourselves, develop new ways of thinking, develop new habits, develop new ways of dealing with strong emotions, so that when we get to that point we say it’s ‘fixed,’ we know how to STAY there.
To be a better housekeeper, I don’t need to be a better person. I just need to have a schedule and a plan and stick to it. That’s just a case of making different daily and weekly choices.
To change how our bodies look or feel, we don’t have to be ‘better’ people. We just need to make better choices, on a daily and weekly basis.
When we reframe our lives in the context of a series of choices and not a reflection of our characters it frees us from shame.
When we see our current body size, shape, weight, etc. as a result of a series of choices, it gives us the tools we need to change.
If you’ve had one of those shame-inspiring, sudden realization moments, don’t hide it. Share it. Speak that shame and ditch it.
If you don’t feel courageous enough to tell someone you know, send me a message. Get it off your chest.
Then get busy owning your choices so you can make new ones and create that body and life you seek.
I already feel better because I told you about my shame. And now I’m getting busy making that schedule to create a better, cleaner, future in my new home.
If you want more support and more guidance to make lasting changes in your nutrition and fitness, but you’re not sure where to start, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d love to talk and help get you started making those better choices to help you live a happier, healthier life.
Always in your corner,