In this episode I talk about how feeling stupid and feeling shame are closely related. I have done a lot of thinking about feeling stupid and I have some stories to share (of course) and a few suggestions and things I’ve learned along the way. If you ever feel stupid, this is the episode for you.
Are you always striving and trying to improve? Do you hold yourself to high standards? Do you deeply want to do your best? Do you find yourself wondering if you are doing the right thing? If there is a better way? What if there is no “best?” What if there is no “better way?” What if “perfect” is just an illusion? What if we are asking the wrong questions? When we think about doing our best, it assumes we aren’t our best already. When we wonder if there is a better way, we assume the current way is not good enough. Always striving for higher standards implies we are not already good enough. These underlying beliefs leave us feeling depleted, defeated, hopeless and helpless. From these emotions, we do LESS, smaller. Perhaps you will say, “But it’s TRUE!” I ask— Is it USEFUL? Take a moment. Take a breath. You are enough. Right now, exactly as you are. Flaws and all. If you can allow yourself to believe that, you will feel love, hope, confidence, and motivation. From those emotions you will be able to get so much more accomplished and become so much more than feeling the need to always do your best. Accept the way you are now and watch yourself do more than you’ve ever been able to do before.
Self-doubt and fear of failure are par for the course for any entrepreneur (or any person for that matter!), but these two emotions came up for me big-time today. I called my coach (JillFreestone.com) for an emergency session. She only had 20 minutes, but it was enough to get me some large realizations.
My biggest takeaway was that I have a hard time feeling vulnerable. Also, I am not really letting myself feel my feelings all the way.
Soooo… after I got off the call with her, I sat and just wrote and wrote. SIX pages. And I am not done.
In the interest of letting myself be vulnerable and feeling fear and doing it anyway, here is what I found. This is my stream of consciousness with notes in parentheses:
What am I feeling? (Keep in mind, this was after opening up to Jill and feeling lots of feelings.)
Inadequate– did I not even know what that felt like? Have I been avoiding this feeling?
Fear– something has gone wrong, to fail, to not make any money, to be a burden on my family and my husband
Angry– that I have to feel this way to move forward. this is hard.
Lonely– nobody cares about me, nobody understands me, nobody respects me, nobody loves me
Unloved– my family [of origin] rejects me, my family doesn’t care. I shouldn’t have been born. I should quit now. I was a mistake. I cause pain and suffering. I am a mistake. (Interesting I didn’t identify shame coming up, but maybe I just didn’t notice that in the moment.) (I also made a note here that I haven’t been reading my scriptures or saying my prayers since being on vacation and being out of routine.)
Vibrations I am feeling (I had so many feelings that I couldn’t identify just one, so I just listed all the vibrations.)
full chest, heart beating faster
want to close my eyes
tired back (from sitting 3 hours?)
pulling my lips down into a frown
emptiness in chest/stomach
None of my “success” has come from loving myself, feeling joy. It has all come from trying to prove something. Pushing myself. covering the fear/vulnerability.
The urgency has passed. Now I feel like a train wreck. Puffy eyes, red face,
I keep seeing that I can’t do anything because it costs money. Ultimately I don’t feel valuable. I am worthless. I should die… except that won’t solve it either. This is the job of the Atonement.
I really feel like eating something sweet now. (I haven’t been eating chocolate since Jan. 1, 2019 and no sweet treats since Sunday.) I want to get away from these feelings. Maybe I’m scared to feel? What if I kept feeling? I would be weak. People would have to make up for my slacking. I’m clearly not allowed to feel. How is all this true?
I AM INADEQUATE! I can’t get myself back to heaven.
I am weak. Only through the Savior am I ever strong.
I am unloved. By plenty of people. (Like millions of strangers.)
I should be afraid! Of what God thinks and his consequences.
I am totally and completely imperfect.
—> And all of this is how it’s supposed to be.
—> I only fail if I stop trying.
Truly what if I am not enough? Then I’ll be rejected. Then what? I’ll be alone and unloved. Then what? <Long pause for reflection.> I am not enough. Nobody is. Now what? I can do anything I want. What do I want? Follow and love Christ. Be his example. Love. Love Christ. Be enough for yourself. What does that look like?
Keeping a clean house
Massages and alone time
Listen to piano music
Spend money on myself
What do I need to believe about myself in order to love me?
I love myself
I’m ok the way I am
I belong to myself
I can love myself no matter what
Everybody is equal
I have nothing to prove
What else do I need to believe? (I was thinking about all the things I love and why.)
Life is beautiful.
Everything is perfect just the way it is.
God is stacking things in my favor.
God loves me.
I am so much.
I have so much.
Becoming whole is possible.
Heavenly Father has my back.
I am 100% valuable and worthy.
I like being around myself.
I accept myself 100%
I like me!
I feel safe.
I’m one of my favorite people.
I am beautiful.
I am my self. (i.e. “He is my son”)
This is how it was meant to be.
I’ve put so much work into myself.
I feel good.
I know myself.
I am doing my best.
I am a hard worker.
I am smart.
I am loyal.
I am my kind of person.
Ok, that’s where I ended my thought download/self-coaching. I want to keep going and ask myself “Who do I want to be?” That came up in my coaching with Jill. My knee-jerk reaction is “I don’t know.” So she challenged me to decide and try it out and then make adjustments.
I thought all sorts of things as I typed all this up. Things like, This is too vulnerable. People will think I am crazy. People will feel sorry for me. People will be concerned for me. People won’t like me. They will see how broken I am. This is unprofessional. My legs are bouncing like crazy, which is one thing that happens when I am really nervous.
And I just wanted to tell you that 3 things really made an impact after this exercise. 1. Recognizing I am not enough. I have been fighting this so hard for my whole life. Realizing that I don’t have to fight it and I can still live my life was powerful. I don’t have to prove my enoughness, because it’s false. I can just let it be and let the Atonement of Jesus Christ take over for me. 2. When I wrote down I belong to myself I think I actually heard my brain click. It was like I’ve been trying to belong to everybody else for so long, not realizing the only one I really need to belong to is me. I think I remember reading something from Brené Brown about Maya Angelou in this vein. I’ll have to go back and find it. 3. When I wrote down I am so much I was like, “Wow.” It’s true. Each of us is so complex. It felt good. As if I’ve been trying to prove “enough” but really I should have been looking for “so much.”
I think that’s it for now. I am suuuuuper tempted to not post this and to just keep it a draft, but I think it would defeat the purpose.
I talked about pressure to have sex here, but I wanted to add to that a bit tonight.
I often hear women saying something to this effect:
“My husband has higher desire. I never feel like having sex. I have young kids and not a lot of time. I always feel so much pressure from my husband. If I am wearing make-up or dress nicely or even just kiss passionately, he will want sex, so I avoid those things. And then when I do agree to have sex, he seems to push me to do things that I don’t want to do and it makes me not want to have sex anymore.”*
If this describes your feelings about sex, I want you to think about this: why don’t you just say no? You don’t want to have sex, but you also don’t want to say no to sex.
Saying no to sex makes you feel guity.
Not saying no makes you feel pressure.
Your brain doesn’t like either of these options, but in this scenario, your brain would prefer the pressure to the guilt (because that is what you are feeling).
Feeling pressure keeps you from feeling guilt. Feeling guilt keeps you from feeling pressure.
I also want to teach you that pressure comes from your THOUGHTS.
IT DOESN’T COME FROM YOUR HUSBAND.
If a stranger came up to you and asked for sex, you wouldn’t feel any guilt for saying no. And if you didn’t actually say no, you wouldn’t feel any pressure. Maybe disgust or fear or any other number of feelings, but pressure likely wouldn’t be one of them. This is because you wouldn’t care what a stranger is thinking or feeling.
Pressure comes from your thoughts about what your husband is thinking or feeling.
Of course, our husbands’ opinions matter to us in so many ways.
But whether or not we “should” have sex doesn’t have to be one of them.
What if your husband could your grab your butt…
or you could kiss him passionately…
or you could wear whatever the heck you want…
and you wouldn’t feel pressure or guilt?
It’s not your job to manage your husband’s emotions.
I promise when you stop trying to make him feel a certain way and expecting him to make you feel a certain way, you will start focusing on what you really desire and the pressure will go away. Your relationship will grow to the next level.
This is not selfish because in the end, your husband will also benefit from this shift.
Last thing. Of course he always wants to have sex with you! You are amazing! He thinks you’re hot! You are smart and the mother of his children! Why wouldn’t he want to have sex with you?? You got it goin’ on!
*I am referring to a loving, non-abusive relationship.
If you have any history of sexual abuse or trauma of any kind, a likely experience regarding sex in your marriage is getting triggered.
I have a simple but powerful exercise to address this.
Journal out what happened to you. Try to remember as much detail as possible. This will most likely be an emotional experience. Pay attention to these emotions. Take note of what you are feeling and why.
If you are afraid of being triggered, recognize that what you are really afraid of is feeling how you felt while the trauma was happening or immediately afterward.
Let me use an example:
You might be afraid to be triggered because it makes you feel out of control.
When you feel out of control, you want to shut down.
When you shut down, you get the result of feeling like you will always be afraid of trigger and feeling out of control.
Notice that in this example, you are afraid of feeling out of control, but you already ARE out of control.
What if you could just feel out of control?
You don’t need to be afraid of a feeling.
A feeling is just a vibration in your body.
You are human and therefore an expert in emotions. You feel emotions every day.
Releasing yourself from fearing the feeling takes off one layer of emotion and gets you closer to how you actually want to feel.
Welcome the feeling.
Name it when it happens.
Describe it in your body.
It will come and go in waves, and eventually it may never come back.
How do you get your husband to stop asking, nagging, initiating or pouting about sex?
The easiest way?
So what comes up for you when I say that? Why aren’t you doing that already?
Maybe he doesn’t deserve it? (This came up for one of my clients today.)
Is your reason that you don’t feel connected to him, so you don’t feel like having sex?
Do you think he will ask even more and then you will have to have sex even more and it will be a never-ending cycle that you can’t get out of??
Let’s take these one by one.
Time. How long does it really take to have sex? Let’s face it, this is just an excuse. Time isn’t a REAL issue for most of us. See my last post for more evidence!
And if time is a real issue for you, then it’s just a matter of prioritizing your time. What is most important, second most, etc?
Energy. I’m feeling the tough love tonight– If you spent less energy thinking and fuming about sex, you would have more for sex. The underlying belief here is that sex TAKES energy. But what if you are wrong? What if it actually gives you energy? Why would you keep yourself from that?
There are activities that drain us and activities that energize us. It all depends on your thoughts about the activity. So if you can get to a place where you love sex… just sayin’…. it might be energizing!
But really. What if your husband isn’t taking from you but giving to you? What if you are looking at it all wrong?
He doesn’t deserve it. If you are thinking this, there is a good chance you are in a parent-child dynamic with your husband. And who the heck wants to have sex with their kid? Umm, not me. This feels like a responsibility, a heaviness. Your brain is gonna want to get far away from that. What if pleasure is not something we deserve or earn with good behavior? What if pleasure is just something we naturally seek and then it’s just about what we want or don’t want– the type of pleasure we are up for? The scriptures say that Men are that they might have joy. We are created for joy, and that often comes from pleasure.
So again, what if you are looking at it all wrong? He doesn’t deserve it or not deserve it. And neither do you! This is just about pleasure, connection and desire. What do you want? (And do you see that when you withhold sex from him, you are also withholding sex/pleasure from you? Even if you don’t enjoy sex yet… the promise of future pleasure with practice is being delayed for yourself.)
Connection. Yes. Connection leads to intimacy. But intimacy also leads to connection. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. Either you have to have connection first. Or you have to have sex first. Depends on your desire type (responsive vs. spontaneous) as to which way you will prefer.
Also: connection is a feeling. Feelings come from our thoughts. You can create connection by thinking loving thoughts about your husband. Try focusing on what you love about him. What do you appreciate? What would you miss if he were gone? Boom. Connection.
Here’s the thing. It’s so much easier to give the power of our emotions away to other people. Then we don’t have to work at it. But it’s much more satisfying to do the work ourselves and create the feelings we want on purpose. It’s not easy, but it is powerful. I promise it will help you feel more connected to yourself and therefore more connected to your husband.
The never-ending cycle. OK, so right now you are just having sex the bare minimum in order to shut him up about it already. Your heart probably isn’t really in it; it’s just a physical act for you. This is like eating bread every meal. It’s not filling. What if you had sex more often but you still aren’t that into it? Like having more bread meals. What if you have sex and you decide to be all in? After all, if you are going to do it, you might as well do it right! This is like meat and potatoes meals. You might be surprised, but your husband likely doesn’t want sex just for the sexual release. It means something to him too. He wants you to be into it! He wants to be filled up. He wants to feel loved and like you mean it. When you can get to that place (and I assure you, you can if you want to), he will likely want sex less often because the “filling meal” will last longer.
Maybe I am wrong and his desire is off the hook. In that case I want you to recognize that you always have a choice. You don’t ever have to have sex, even with your husband. So if you are having sex even if you “don’t really want to,” the alternative is worse than the sex to your brain. What’s the alternative? Only you can answer that.
*Another way you could get him to stop asking for sex is to get divorced. There are always alternatives my friend.
Man, I love this work. I love helping women love their sex lives which leads them to love themselves more so they can love everyone around them more. Come join my coaching program so you can get amazing results in your life. I promise it’ll be worth it.
Something keeps coming up in my coaching that we need more awareness over. It’s something that is prevalent amongst women and especially mothers. It sounds like a good thing, but it is breeding resentment and anger and it is preventing us from being in full integrity with ourselves.
People pleasing. Have you heard of it? Do you do it?
People pleasing is doing what someone else wants because you think it will make them feel good and in turn, will make you feel good. This is different from kindness. Kindness is doing something for someone else because that’s the kind of person you want to be. It’s all about the motive— why you are doing what you are doing.
Now. People pleasing seems good. It seems like we all should be a little more selfless and do things for other people. Wouldn’t it make the world a better place? Of course it would. But not by people pleasing. Let me tell you why.
People pleasing is dishonest. It’s you agreeing to do something, explicitly or otherwise, that you don’t really want to do. You SAY you would be happy to make those cupcakes for the school event, but really you don’t want to. You are not really speaking your truth.
People pleasing tells the world that you are not as valuable as everyone else. You put your own needs/wants lower down on the priority list. This feels terrible because it is a human need to feel like we have value. And guess what— you think it will feel good for the other person, but often it does not. Would you rather someone do something for you willingly or grudgingly? When you are doing something that is not really what you want to do, over time you will get resentful. That is because resentment comes from not taking care of your own needs. And people pleasing puts others’ needs before your own.
And lastly, people pleasing prevents you from taking responsibility for your own feelings and perpetuates that same thing in others. The only reason you are doing the thing you do for someone else is because you think it will make them happy. Or that not doing it will make them sad or angry. But if their feelings come from their own thoughts, then it isn’t even possible for you to make someone else happy, sad or angry. Sometimes you do the thing and they don’t feel happy— what’s that all about? So in a way people pleasing is gambling your time or effort away. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. And it never makes you feel good, because you are working against yourself.
So how do you know you are people pleasing and not just being kind? Here are a few symptoms. These don’t necessarily mean you are people pleasing but are good indicators:
-You drag your feet, you act grudgingly.
-You don’t enjoy whatever it is.
-You expect something in return, even if it is not explicitly stated. You keep a count in your mind.
-You feel resentful. And sometimes angry.
-You dream about ways to stop.
-You “take things out” on the person and you don’t know why.
-When you ask yourself the question, “Why am I doing this?” you answer, “Because it will make them happy.” or “It will make them love me.” These answers sound noble, but if they come at the cost of your own happiness or love, you are just swapping your own feelings for someone else’s. A better answer would be that you want to do something for someone else because that is the kind of person you are. I promise it will feel much better to you if you can make that your truth.
Once you recognize your people pleasing tendencies, you may want to know how to stop. On the screen it might seem easy, but this is a lot harder to implement in real life. If you are a people pleaser, you likely have been doing this for a long time and it’s a habit. Habits, of course, can be broken, but it takes time and effort:
Before you commit to anything, ask yourself if you have time and desire to do it. If the answer is no for either one, politely decline.
Recognize that your own needs are just as valid as anyone else’s.
Ask yourself “Why would I do this?” If you like your reason, then go ahead. If your reason is rooted in fear then politely decline.
Start taking responsibility for your own feelings instead of assigning them to someone or something outside of yourself. Fuel you before you poor yourself into others. I promise your kids, your husband, your friends will all appreciate an honest, loving person than one that is people pleasing.
Decide what you will and won’t do ahead of time based on the kind of person you want to be.
Easy, right? 😉
I hope this helps you decrease the resentment and anger in your life and show up for yourself in a way that feels a lot better. I would love to hear if you tried any of these recommendations and how it went. If you want help dealing with your people pleasing habits, I would love to help you in a free session. Calendly.com/denitabremercoaching.
Laura Tremaine’s most recent 10 Things to Tell You podcast episode talks about connecting with your body. She discussed “the miracle of our bodies and what makes us come truly alive” with her pilates instructor. This podcast episode spurred in me some reflection about WHY we should connect with our bodies.
I identified three “problems” that keep us from connecting with our bodies. I am sure there are many more, but this is a bird’s-eye view:
We are taught that our bodies are magnificent creations and we should be grateful for them, receiving a body is an essential part of Heavenly Father’s plan, yet when we are talking about our bodies, we often focus on what is wrong.We do not truly embrace our bodies as a gift from God.
We are numbing ourselves– disconnecting ourselves– from our bodies, because we think it will make us feel better. But it generally has the opposite effect.
Many adult women do not have any activity in which they feel true joy in their bodies. This is a problem because emotion is a vibration in our bodies. If we are to feel true joy in this life, it is going to happen in our bodies, not in our heads.
We don’t recognize that our emotions come from our thoughts. In our culture we are taught that our feelings come from outside of us, specifically other people.
Feeling the emotions and sensations in our bodies is THE way to getting the results we want in our lives. I’m not just talking about fitness goals, but EVERY goal. Our emotions drive our actions which bring results. So often we think we are feeling the emotions but really we are just thinking thoughts that feel awful.
So how do we overcome these problems? Here are some ideas:
Participate in an activity that brings you genuine joy. Like a butterfly sensation in the pit of your stomach. Children are great at this: swings, trampolines, bike riding, finger painting, rollercoasters, etc. It doesn’t have to be complicated. (One suggestion is sex, if it is fun for you.)
When you have an emotion– good or bad– let yourself feel it. Where is it in your body? What does it feel like? Use as many adjectives as possible. Don’t resist or run away from it. Just sit in the emotion.
Be grateful for your body and what it can do. Write a list of every little way your body has been a blessing to you. Dig deep here if you feel embarrassment or shame around your body.
Pay attention to when you engage in any activity to distract yourself or numb yourself from feeling something. This could be snacking or overeating, scrolling social media, sleeping, TV watching. Can you just feel the feeling instead? Remember it is just a vibration in your body.
We need to get into our bodies and feel our feelings if we want to obtain a fulness of joy in this life. AND a fulness of joy requires a fulness of sorrow. This is how our capacity is expanded.
I hope you found this thought provoking or helpful in some way. If you would like help getting into your body and feeling your emotions, I would be honored to partner with you. Click this link for a free 45 minute consultation: calendly.com/denitabremercoaching