A Monster on a Rope

I have monster on a rope.

She is a shape shifting monster and she has many different faces.

Sometimes she is fear and she whispers to me, “But what if they reject you?”

Sometimes she is anger and she is indignant in her need to be understood, justified, and respected.

Sometimes she is anxiety and she wrings her hands saying, “I don’t think it’s going to work.”

Very often she is perfectionism and she says disapprovingly, “This isn’t just quite right.”

She flip-flops between the extremes of low self-worth and arrogance.

She is a people-pleaser, a chameleon, and she’d cut off her own arm if it meant she could fit in.

This monster has a name. It is Shame. And at the root of everything she says and does is the fear that I’m not enough to be loved, accepted, approved of. She can turn me into a pretzel to keep others comfortable, or a bear if she gets defensive. She is fearful that my being true, real, and authentic is incompatible with being accepted.

I have been dragging this monster around with me for my entire life. She really isn’t much fun to hang around with. She has hurt relationships, butchered conversations, and wasted hours of sleep. She has drained me, beaten me up, and dragged me down.

Can you relate? Do you have monster on a rope? Does he or she tie you in a pretzel to please others, or turn you into a bear to gain respect? Does he or she judge you or others, trying to form you, life, and other people into unrealistic expectations? Does your monster tell you to sacrifice play, creativity, authentic communication, joy, and true connection because it’s just too risky?

Does your monster bind you up to sacrifice yourself on the alter of approval?

So what do we do?

Sometimes we go along with the monster. We allow them to drag us along into the depths of shame, angeranxietyfearperfectionism.

And other times, we say no. Or we try to. We pull back. We pull on that rope and say, “I don’t want to be afraid, angry, or anxious! I don’t want to defend myself, or tie myself into a pretzel! I don’t want to feel this shame anymore!”

We play tug-of-war.

And the monster plays back.

This game of tug of war gets intense. We get anxious about anxiety, fearful of fear, frustrated with anger, and most of all, ashamed of our shame.

The monster wins the game tug-of-war. Every time.

Do you want to know how to win the game of tug-of-war?

Drop the rope.

Just drop it.

When you feel your Shame monster pull on the rope, drop it.

Right now, even while typing this email to you, I’ve felt my Shame monster tug the rope, crying, “What’ll they think of you? What if no one can relate? What if they judge you?!” (In fact, my Shame monster is mortified that I even just told you all the things she’s saying to me right now.) But when I feel the tug, I drop the rope.

Stop trying to fight. Drop the rope. Courageously choose connection, love, compassion, forgiveness, and care.

Close your eyes right now. Feel the game of tug-of-war. Of your true self trying to fight with shame.

Now. Drop. The. Rope.

Don’t you feel a hundred pounds lighter?

Here’s to Conquering Stress,

The Stress Experts

Practical Strategies to Deal With Daily Stressors

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