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Dictionary of Self-Help

Or, how to combat the shame monster one imperfect post at a time


Dictionary example










I’ve not wanted to post what I’m about to post.

I’ve been putting it off.

I started working with a coach, made a plan, I wholly understood the need and rationale behind that plan. And then….tumbleweed.


But tumbleweed is data, so rather than berate myself for procrastinating or lacking motivation or any of those other off-the-shelf and easy to reach for flagellations, I got interested in what the tumbleweed had to tell me.

And now I am ready(-er) to post.

So what’s been going on?


There are many creative projects that I am currently holding in abeyance. The two key ones are:

- creating a coaching programme that I plan to launch next year;

- writing a dictionary of self-help.

Crafting the coaching programme will take time.

Writing a dictionary will take time.

[It took Samuel Johnson seven years to write his dictionary. Just saying.]

No one in the world has asked for either of these things.

[Unlike Johnson, I haven’t been offered 1500 guineas to write my dictionary.]


They’re both ideas that simply excite and interest me and that will help me to understand more about what I think, believe, value and offer.


My core values are self-expression and making a difference. These two creative projects would both place me in direct alignment with my values which feels great, a place of energy and flow.


So why the tumbleweed?


Because creative self-expression is for me, as it is for so many, the seat of my shame:

When I started the research on shame, you know, 13 years ago, I found that 85% of the men and women who I interviewed remembered an event in school that was so shaming, it changed how they thought of themselves for the rest of their lives. But wait – this is good – 50% of that 85%, half of those people: those shame wounds were around creativity. So 50% of those people have art scars. Have creativity scars.
Brené Brown on Elizabeth Gilbert ‘Magic Lessons’ Podcast

Speaking out, thinking I have something to say, bothering others with the banal froufrou of my mind is all hugely shaming for me. As Brené Brown says, “Shame drives two tapes; never good enough and who do you think you are?” Shame decides we are simultaneously not enough, and too much. It has the self-expression end of the market sewn up!


And that’s why speaking out can be so challenging – shame is an oaf, a bully, a sneering, jeering, belittling brute.


And why not speaking out is worse. Because we can’t let our inner bully win forever without sacrificing a huge part of ourselves; the part that’s free and limber and joyous and uninhibited.


So, to honour the part of me that is LIMBER and JOYOUS and wants to MAKE A DIFFERENCE, I am following through on my plan which is to start sharing my dictionary of self-help work in progress.


My imperfect, barely there, not worked out, Bambi-legged ideas.

My scraps of starts of somethings.

My creative mess.


The ides horrifies ‘me’ – the me where shame resides.

And the idea liberates ‘me’ – the me where self-expression resides.


Post by imperfect post, I am embarking on a recalibration of the hold that my shame bully has had over me for decades.


That’s the plan.


So, deep breath, let’s go.

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