Shhhame On You!

I'VE JUST FINISHED READING an interview on a business icon in the New York Times, Sunday and I'm left lacking for doing so. 

The man interviewed describes how he was influenced by sports and his parents. His first real leadership experience was with taekwondo. He got his black belt when he was 12 and started teaching some of the classes, with people of all ages.  His parents were very career orientated folks who occasionally would take him to work with them. He was raised by two working professionals and a product of the marrying of a businessman and a physician.

The architecture of the article is to reason how he got there! How he's made it in this business world.  Well, the article definitely succeeds in doing so but I'm left incomplete not knowing if he has a family.  Not knowing if he does, are they are tighter as a whole because of success or worse off?  I realize it's certainly none of my business - his private affairs should remain just that but I'm torn as to how, if one has both family and business, in excellent form, one can accomplish something great.

Opportunity cost is very considerable in situations like these, especially when children are involved.

At my age, I can most times see clearly who is motivated to do great work and whether that motivation comes from a healthy foundation or not.

Actually, age had nothing to do with it, it's not rocket science if you really look.

Rocket Sceince

It's time we face reality, my friends... 
We're not exactly rocket scientists.
The Far Side By Gary Larson

But sometimes I liken actual rocket science to balancing an excellent work life and an equally profitable home life - at least it was for me. 

I have struggled with that balance most of my life.  And today, I sit, temporarily estranged from my own family at a local restaurant saddened by this fact.

AS AN ADULT CHILD of an alcoholic or clinically known as an ACOA, I am frustrated that what could be normal to so many is so foreign to me.

I'm jealous and I'm bitter a bit. 

And to make matters worse, the loser in this tragic scenario is my family - not me!  Did I need a black belt by age 12 and two working folks for parents? Well, until now, I've gone about obsessing about work, eating far less than necessary to sustain the needed effort and sleeping erratically. But what of them - what about my kin, my tribe?

A quote from a 1946 bible says...

For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?
— Mark 8:36 Revised Standard Version (1946)

With September being national recovery month, maybe this is timely for a post on growing up in an ACOA world.  Growing up where one day your father is domineering over you and another, pathetically laying in the fetal position on the sofa.  These memories can truly mess with one's head.  Let me tell you!

But for my life, not indulging in the drink as he did, I still find very similar scenarios taking place. I wonder, what if it isn't the booze?  What if there is a deeper root that is not known? Nothing is the way it's supposed to be - but is there a "supposed to be"?

In a typical alcoholic family, events are often canceled.  There is no reason given.  White lies are told and black lies are assumed.  My heart drops as I mindfully rethink these events that, it seems, I've permanently forced into the back of my mind. 

"Is everyone living a lie", my internal voice screams!

The list of characteristics that growing up with addiction can be, are varied, today I want to unpack one of them. 


There's a word many want to avoid.  Funny thing about shame, the Oxford dictionary defines it as a painful feeling of humiliation caused by wrong or foolish behaviour but I, instead, suggest to you that it's really the feeling of fear of disconnection. 


Because we are made to connect and when we don't it is an emotional threat. Shame will influence how we will react when this feeling of disconnection comes upon us.   Often, this occurs whether or not we know or believe with are suffering through shame.


The word, or the avoidance of the feeling that comes with it, has trained me to be confident, in control - look and act very well put together.  Most may even describe me as powerful - but hold on!

Is there power in vulnerability?

Brené Brown, Ph.D says yes. 

I say maybe...  ;)

Have you ever been in that situation where everyone is adding an opinion to an ongoing topic of conversation.  As you look around, everyone is engaging, leaning forward, gesturing confidence and nodding their heads. 

Everyone but you. 

When this happens to me, I am certain that being quiet is the only acceptable action.


It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.
— Maurice Switzer

Maurice Switzer related it well in his book “Mrs. Goose, Her Book”. 

But what if, instead of remaining quiet, we disclosed our ignorance. What if, in our vulnerability we were powerful.

What if I could be powerful in vulnerability instead of powerful in the lie of shame.

Brené, said, in her awesome Ted talk

"We are the most in debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in US history...and the problem is you cannot selectively numb emotion... You can't say here's the bad stuff, the vulnerability, shame, grief, fear, disappointment and say I don't want to feel these - you cannot selectively numb."

Now far be it from me to paraphrase Brené but if you numb the garbage, you inadvertently numb the potential joy, gratitude and happiness as well. 

Okay, so, we can't medicate the emotions that produce a disconnect without harbouring the emotions that enable connection.

Now what. Some life events hurt and I sometimes i just want to numb!

Well, let's start with a couple obvious facts that aren't always obvious.

Shame says - "I'm bad."

Guilt says - "I did something bad."

Humiliation says - "I feel bad but I didn't deserve this."

Embarrassment says - "I feel bad but oops, it was an accident." 

Guilt is a feeling of having done wrong.  Shame is a feeling of humiliation caused by having done wrong. The difference is feeling like you did an inferior or defective thing versus feeling like you are inferior or defective!


W. Guilt is about actions, shame is about our identity.  

X. Guilt says our actions are bad, shame says we are bad.

Y. Guilt generates remorse, shame makes us want to hide.

Z. Guilt is redeemable, shame makes us wish we ceased to exist.

Often the pain of shame is overwhelming and the core belief that we cannot be redeemed is so deep that hope... well hope just disappears.

I hate not having hope. 

So I say again, now what!

John Bradshaw says:

To heal our toxic shame we must come out of hiding. As long as our shame is hidden, there is nothing we can do about it. In order to change our shame we must embrace it. There is an old therapeutic adage that states, “The only way out is through.
— John Bradshaw Healing the Shame that Binds You


1. Face the Shame.

2. Move toward the Shame, into it, and eventually through it.  

3.  For goodness sake, don't do it alone.

Embracing our shame involves pain. 


Geena Davis says, “Life is pain – Get used to it!” in the movie, “The Long Kiss Goodnight” 1996, with Samuel L. Jackson and Craig Bierko.

I wonder if most of our pain is ultimately due to the avoidance of dealing with legitimate HURTS.

So, I say, don't drink it away, don't fight it away and don't f**k it away! 

About face, eyes forward, ten hut!

It's not the easier way if we stop avoiding it, but when we face it, it will pass. 

This, too, shall pass.
— Attributed to a Persian poet, Attar of Nishapur

This is the gift I am to receive today.  

Hope you do too.  




If you'd like more strategies for connecting with your powerful inner self and tackling shame and vulnerability, my friend Jenn Lofgren's new eCourse is fantastic - consider taking the online “Becoming the Leader Others are Inspired to Follow”.  I’ve been walking through it this last week and its been a great supplement to my journey!  For more information, check it here...  INCITO


David D'Silva is an aspiring writer and story teller.  After 20 years in the business world he is authoring pertinent articles that speak to everyday life. David has won awards for excellence in business, and his specialties include adding a personal touch to customer service, managing great people so they feel like a partners not employees, being a solid spokesperson, coaching and being someone you can rely on when you're on a tight deadline. He leads well.  

After spending close to 40 years in Regina, SK., he, with his wife Heidi, loaded up their young children Rosario, Brahm and Esaias (and a giant schnauzer Kya) and moved to a grooving windy metropolis, Lethbridge, AB.  They love to learn, run, jump, play and on occasion eat great tuna poke. 

David can be reached for speaking engagements, lectures, or other teaching opportunities at the following:

David J. D'Silva
PH: (639) 571-7157
Twitter: @dso2004