What To Do When You Are Afraid To Say The Wrong Thing

What opportunities and possibilities do you find yourself diminishing or killing off because you're afraid to say the wrong thing?

Afraid To Say The Wrong Thing

Have you ever been asked this question?

 “If you were a super villain, who would you be and what would be your power?”

This was not a question that my chiropractor was used to being asked, but I had just come from a conference call with some colleagues where we were discussing how to bring more of our personalities into our businesses and brands, and the topic of heroes and villains had come up.

You know,” my chiropractor pondered, “I think the worst feeling in the world is shame. It just stops people in their tracks. So my supervillain would be Shame Spiral, and he would freeze people from the power of shame.”

Wow.

Do you have conversations like this with your health providers? Because seriously, you should.

Author and shame researcher Brené Brown says, “Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough….it corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”

Shame and the avoidance of shame shows up as embarrassment or fear of embarrassment, anxiety, depression, worry, resentment - what’s your flavor?

And shame definitely shows up as your fear of “saying the wrong thing.”

What opportunities and possibilities do you find yourself diminishing or killing off because you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing and looking foolish, or being wrong, or not looking good? How do you make yourself smaller and less bright because of how you think what you have to say might or might not come across to others?

Shame, in our bodies, can feel like we are dying - so we try and avoid it at all costs.

However, the solution to what to do when you’re afraid of shame, embarrassment, “looking bad” and saying the wrong thing is counterintuitive.  I echo what Brené says…

“As a shame researcher, I know that the very best thing to do in the midst of a shame attack is totally counterintuitive: Practice courage and reach out!”

Courage is the antidote to shame. So then, how to create courage? My favorite activation point for courage is one simple and easy to conjure feeling.

Curiosity.

The courageous lion is still a cat, our avatar for curiosity. When you are feeling concerns about saying the wrong thing, being embarrassed, or risking shame, engaging your curiosity triggers your creativity, your inner wonder-er, and your sense of play.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to engage your curiosity and replace your own personal “Shame Spiral” with your inner “Courageous Curious Crusader.”

Shame Trigger 1:

Curiosity Trigger 1:

Shame Trigger 2: 

Curiosity Trigger 2: 

Shame Trigger 3: 

Curiosity Trigger 3: 

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

“I wonder how I’ll grow from this experience.”

“What if they don’t like it/me/this?”

“This is going to be interesting-I wonder where this will lead me?”

“I’m not qualified to do this.”

“I wonder what I can add in to my knowledge or expertise to make this even better?”

Notice the pattern of the phrase, “I wonder…” This simple phrase is a deep and effective trigger to shift you from a shame reaction to a courageous and curious one.

We are always in the process of evolving into our greatness, try on replacing your automatic responses of shame, worry, and concern this week with those of curiosity, and see where it leads you - and let us know what you discover, we read and respond to every email.

Keep going, and keep growing!

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