If you're afraid you're not doing enough, you might feel small and even selfish. Kitten looking lost in a box.

Photo by George Bonev on Unsplash

“There’s been a lot of big changes at work — everything’s blowing up at once. buIt's too much for me. I really, really, really need to cut down on my constant availability. But I feel guilty even thinking that, when everyone around me is so stressed, too! I feel like I'm not doing enough.” my client told me this week.

If you’re like this very admirable and effective client of mine, you’ve got a LOT on your plate.

We get overwhelmed, stressed out, even burned out… but we feel selfish and small when we even consider putting our own needs first. GUILT!

But… is that really Guilt? And whatever you call it, what can you do about it?

I am a big fan of Brené Brown. She sees an important difference between Guilt and Shame.

Guilt, she says, is a valuable (if unpleasant) voice from our conscience, correcting behavior that’s not in alignment with our own values.

But Guilt, Brown says, also has a destructive and useless cousin:

SHAME.

I suspect that intense “not doing enough, selfish and small” feeling is not useful Guilt. I think it’s actually useless Shame. Brown defines Shame as “the powerful feeling that we’re not good enough.” She says feeling shame is like being caught in an emotional storm.

Brown goes on to say, “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” Shame paralyzes our ability to learn and grow.

Brené Brown has a simple, powerful prescription for when you’re caught in a shame storm.

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”

It is crucial to talk frankly with a trusted, empathetic friend about that feeling of shame, of feeling not good enough. That’s what helps you clear Shame out of your system so you can make rational, healthy, life-enhancing choices.

But,

“If we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”

So, choose that trusted friend wisely.

If you’ve been following my posts, then you’re one of the world’s awesome, caring, effective go-getters (because the other kind don’t “get” these posts at all.)

You are a precious gift, and we need you. Specifically, we need you whole, healthy, and maintaining good boundaries.

— Beth Genly is the chief Burnout Recovery Mentor at Burnout Solutions, and co-author (with Dr. Marnie Loomis, ND) of Save Yourself from Burnout: A System to Get Your Life Back.