Fei and I decided to do a Facebook live after our weekly Cuddle Sanctuary operational meeting. We only had a few minutes to get it done before I had to leave. Or maybe she had a client. I forget what it was, but we had limited time.
Fei set everything up pretty quickly. She used a tissue box to hold up her phone – I thought that was clever. We didn’t spend much time preparing what to say. We had a general idea of the topic and figured that would be enough. We’re both pretty comfortable on camera and trust in our ability to improvise.
I had no idea that I was about to get shame bombed at the 28th second of the video!
Here’s a transcription:
Fei: Hey there. (waves to the camera.)
Jean: Hello. (waves to to the camera.)
Fei: Hey, Jean – how many cuddle positions do you think you know?
Jean: Based on our training, I know I can nail…I can do 15 of them. I might know more, but I think 15 to 20 that I can name and competently deliver. What about you?
Fei: I think I know way more.
Fei: Like 100.
Fei: Yeah, because every single one of them has a variation.
Noun: An unexpected onslaught of low self esteem due to a perceived mistake.
Here is a sample of thoughts that ran through my mind as we continued our Facebook Live:
“I look like a fool!”
“People will think I’m incompetent!”
“I just proved I’m not fit to teach.”
On the surface, I looked fine, even jovial. Inwardly, it was a shit show.
I should mention that I don’t believe that Fei shame bombed me. There was no ill intent on her part. In fact that discovery we made together was probably really interesting to watch. It also may have provided something useful or instructive to those viewing it. The shame I felt was unleashed because of my own psychological makeup and would have been triggered by any number of similar circumstances.
What is the purpose of shame?
Carl Jung, the Swiss founder of analytical psychology, called shame a “soul-eating emotion.” The horrible message of shame tells me that I’m inherently unworthy. The main thought is: Others can see what I’ve known all along about myself: I’m just bad.
In Carolyn Gregoire’s HuffPost article on the subject, she highlights some research by evolutionary psychologists that suggests that shame may have helped early humans survive. The hypothesis is that we hunted and gathered in packs so being accepted in the tribe was crucial for survival. Shame served as an emotional alert system to encourage us to belong, fit in and value what those around us valued.
In my case, I assumed that viewers of our Facebook Live valued expertise. In my mind, by knowing such a small number of cuddle positions compared to Fei, I had violated the expectation of what an expert is supposed to know.
How can I release shame?
I’d like to share with you two techniques that work well for me. In twelve step programs there’s a common saying that you’re only as sick as your secrets. One tactic that helps me dissipate shame is to share about it with someone compassionate and safe. Telling the truth about how I feel helps. Often my safe friend can give me some needed perspective.
Another technique I’ve discovered is to write in my journal. I’ll write what happened, how I feel and then get compassionate with myself. Like this:
Several people commented that they liked the video. One person said it was cute. No one has contacted me to say, ‘How dare you call yourself an expert.” So maybe it wasn’t so bad. My clients seem to like my work and come back to see me. Maybe there are many ways to be successful as a professional cuddler and how I do it is good enough. Even though I felt shame I kept going like a champ and helped create a perfectly fine video…
Do you like my shame reducing suggestions? If you want more techniques, Barrie Davenport provides eight strategies in a terrific article on LiveBoldAndBloom.com.
As for Fei and I, we are planning another Facebook live soon. We will probably prepare the same way and I bet extraordinary, human, real, awkward, wonderful moments will happen for you to witness and (hopefully) enjoy.