Image of the word Shame on a pink cloud with other words - blame, shame, bully coming out of it.

Shame – The Greatest Saboteur of Life & Business

– AND How to starve it

Shame and its co-dependant lover fear have long been recognised as tremendous obstacles that hinder personal and professional growth.

The two primary fears are failure & rejection. The underlying fear is shame.

The work of John Bowlby on attachment theory sheds light on the impact of shame. Bowlby highlighted how fear of judgment or rejection, resulting from early attachment experiences, will influence social interactions. It’s for this reason, constructive feedback, from an early age, is essential for personal and professional growth.

Imposter syndrome, another much discussed phenomenon, finds its roots in shame and self-doubt. Imposter syndrome perpetuates feelings of inadequacy and the fear of being exposed as a fraud.

Procrastination is another obstruction linked to shame. When we fear being shamed, we are likely going to procrastinate, leading to missed deadlines and unfinished projects.

Living with chronic shame has well-documented mental health consequences. I highlighted this in a previous blog.

How to combat shame

Shame needs the oxygen of secrecy to survive, so acknowledging the role of shame in personal and professional life is an essential first step. But to shine a light on our shame in the glare of public scrutiny will likely be overwhelming and deepen the shame.

In an earlier article, I detailed my experience in the European Court of Justice, where my personal life was aired before hundreds of people and then again online. It was a liberating experience, but not for the squeamish.

The best place to confront shame is with loved ones or better still, a skilled therapist or coach who will create a safe space.

Ultimately, in the world of business, the only shame one should feel is not giving it their all. Entrepreneurs & Leaders have to summon up courage every day. They should be applauded for it.