#006: Stop trying so hard to be good! How To Put Inner Critic & Shame to Bed

podcast Sep 21, 2022

Deb and Amanda talk about how to trust the good in ourselves even though we are human and imperfect.

Deb shares her personal struggle with shame and white guilt as a person standing for racial justice.  

Deb Shine Valentine, PhD (she, her, hers) helps change makers, leaders, and educators who are committed to equity, justice AND joy! You can find her at https://thriving4equity.com

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Unknown Speaker  0:00  
Here we are with our special guest today--Deb Shine Valentine.  And I just love her name Deb, who is shining like a Valentine. Deb is a certified racial justice from the heart facilitator. She's also a life and professional coach, too. And she told me Deb, tell me exactly how you call the people to you people who are ready to I love your tagline. So

Unknown Speaker  0:25  
one of the things that I often say is people who want to change the world, but sometimes have trouble just making it to lunch.

Unknown Speaker  0:32  

Unknown Speaker  0:34  
Right. So for people who want to change the world, we have a hard time getting even to lunch. And for those of us who are recovering from the Savior roll for those of us who want to experience joy in the moment of transformation, in addition to the other feelings, but who will also willing to allow ourselves to be rooted in joy. This is who Deb shine Valentine works with. And she has worked with me directly as a coach, and she has a book coming up. And I'm so excited that so many people in my community are contributing to this book. But in the meantime, why don't you go ahead and tell us what's good?

Unknown Speaker  1:07  
What's good? Well, the thing that came to mind when I was thinking about that question was to say you, that's the very first thing that came to mind. And it means you, Amanda, but it also really, I was thinking whoever is listening, so whoever is here, whoever's listening later, whoever hears about this, and I actually get a lot of emotion coming up as I say this, because I really want you to know it. You You're what's good. You as you are in this moment, already good, already good enough. And I've been finding that's a core piece of my own work in myself. But it's also a core piece of what I want to share at this time, what you were talking about at this moment in history, so many of us who are recovering saviors, as you mentioned, a lot of that is often coming out of I'm trying so hard to be good. I'm trying so hard to do good. And I won't keep going on and on about this. But I just want to start with that view. You're what's good, whoever you are already.

Unknown Speaker  2:10  
Yeah. And usually when someone says something like that was so much energy behind it, it's because they have walked the path. This is not a theoretical question. So tell us whatever you feel comfortable with. Tell us about how you had to walk a path through something to the willingness are good already.

Unknown Speaker  2:29  
Yeah, I'm still walking the path. But one of the things that happened for me recently related to this was I was getting coached coaches, we tend to like to get coached ourselves. And so I was getting coached by a colleague, and I forget what specific situation we were working with. But I remember that I could feel that I had the surface motivation, but that my underneath motivation was trying so hard to be good. And I was feeling like I was failing. And I could feel in my body. The energy was like, tight, it was like a leaning forward. Like I'm trying so much effort. I'm trying so hard. And I started crying like I'm failing. And she asked me this beautiful question. She said, okay, like, I hear that, what would happen if you leaned back into goodness, whoa. And I mean, you can see it in my body. Now, I could feel that immediately the difference of leaning back into goodness versus trying so hard to be good. So I mean, I come from a very conservative, evangelical Christian background, there's a lot of good bad in there in the name of love, and with a lot of good intention. But it's pretty deeply embedded in me. But that's one place where I really felt the difference of that and felt how the same action would be so different if I were leaning back into goodness, not needing to prove my goodness. So I don't know how that comes across as I'm sharing it. But I could feel such a shift in my heart, in my energy in my body and in what was possible. And it was actually and it connects with. I know we're going to talk about the book later. But the book that I wrote with a bunch of collaborators is called feel better do better. It was this felt experience of oh my goodness, there's this teaching, we get that you have to if you screwed up, if you did something wrong, you have to feel worse, you have to beat yourself up about it, you have to feel worse about it. And that will somehow make you do better. But I keep experiencing over and over again that it's actually resting into I'm already loved. I'm already good. That gives me increased capacity to do things that actually help it sounds backwards, but it just happens over and over and over again. I'm more courageous in conversations about racial justice when I'm not trying to prove that I'm the good white person when my energy is settled. And I'm able to listen and do what we talk about and racial justice from the heart, check in with my wise self, listen and pull up an action from that space. It's just completely different. Hmm. Wow. Ah, that was a lot of words.

Unknown Speaker  5:18  
I appreciate you. I appreciate. And I just want to invite us all to sink into our breath for a moment. So what I heard Deb saying was what comes from settling into accepting our goodness. And from that acceptance, what's the right the next action to take? And Deb, I think it's like paradigm shifting, to go to cultivate you cultivating a sense of good in yourself, especially when you come from when you hold a, an identity that is privileged in our society, when you know, people are suffering, you know, when you know, there's a house burning to say, Okay, what if my action came from love, including loving myself? What action comes in?

Unknown Speaker  6:05  
And how does the action feel in the body? Yeah, it feels risky to like, step away from the I'm bad. So therefore, let me work harder. You know, to I'm good. And what is, what is this overflow goodness, inviting me to do? How is it inviting me to hug or embrace other people?

Unknown Speaker  6:28  
Yeah, I always have a part I can I can sort of see this part that's going on. I can't do that. I can't do No, I can't see. Like exactly what you said about feeling risky. There's Yeah, because we've been taught work harder is the is the way and our our culture, particularly the country that I know best us. We love to control things through shame. Ooh,

Unknown Speaker  6:56  
yes. You just said two words that I just really want to go into today. Control and shame. What is it? What are you noticing about control? Where do you see control showing up in you or in our world? You know, in

Unknown Speaker  7:13  
good people like us, where do you see control showing up? Not just in the, the forces that you know, we might all be super critical of and we would never, never, never, never vote for in a million years. But what about the

Unknown Speaker  7:27  
right? Oh, yeah. Yeah, there's so many really sneaky subtle ways that I see it showing up in myself. And a lot of the people around me, one is desiring to control other people's emotions, seeking to control other people's emotions. This happens a lot with kids, I want my kid to be happy. I want my kid to be to like me, or whatever it is, but wanting other people to like us. I think that's one of the things that in our cultural context, and particularly for people who've been socialized as women, and I think it comes up also in people who've been socialized in any group that has less power than some others you get socialized to be safety comes from other people liking you, other people thinking that you're nice other people thinking that you're unthreatening. So there's a reason that we want other people to like us, but it can lead to really operating out of fear and trying to control other people's reactions. So for example, I know one of the things I noticed in myself is if I start feeling like someone doesn't like me, or is irritated with me, one of my tendencies is to fawn. So some people talk about Fight, Flight freeze, but there's another option, which is to fawn that's one of mine, I will start being extra nice, like I'll do something that irritates you. And the next thing I want to do is give you a gift, but that really underneath it's me trying to control how you feel. It's me trying to control your reactions to me, and it can come across even I think in really patronizing ways. I've noticed it in myself in a subtle way around money. I don't want to have more money or for people to know that I have more money. I don't want to make more money. A lot of us have this who are in the social justice be good care for the world circles. We don't want to make more money because it might make someone else feel bad. Even that is not honoring like you were talking about were powerful beings. It's not honoring the power and sovereignty of the other being it's me thinking I am responsible and need to control how you feel in reaction to me. So that's one of the places where I see it coming up and we usually don't think of it as being about control. Yeah, but if we look underneath, it's in there.

Unknown Speaker  9:56  
And I love it.

Unknown Speaker  9:58  
First of all, thank

Unknown Speaker  9:58  

Unknown Speaker  9:59  
you Just open things up for me with how that shows up. So when you do uncover that, Deb, how I find? I've been thinking about that one too. So funny, you brought it up. But when you uncover these things in yourself, like I find I try to control, I lean forward to be good. And then I'm trying to like, in my case, I'm trying to force things to happen, because

Unknown Speaker  10:21  
I'm so good. When you uncover that

Unknown Speaker  10:25  
kind of programming in yourself, your words for experience yourself as good, like, how

Unknown Speaker  10:30  
do you? It's such a good question. So much practicing. Like, it's really like so many of these other things that we do, those of us who are in any kind of space where we we practice yoga, we practice walking, we practice meditation, we practice prayer. For me, I've found this to be like a living, breathing being a human meditation practice of exactly what we were talking about earlier on the call of self love and acceptance. So it's going back again, to this starting point of what we want to do, when we see that part is, is get rid of it. Most of us like, oh, my gosh, I'm doing that thing. It's not helpful, I want to get rid of it. So we tend to distance ourselves from it, or start judging it in our own minds. And so the other two things that I thought of when you ask the question, what's good, my next two answers connect to this, which would be our emotions and our body. And we've been working with this, in this call, right? What I find for myself and people I work with is what we need to do when we notice that thing is as soon as possible or as much as possible pause and you see me if you're looking at me, I keep closing my eyes and putting my hand on my heart. That's one of the things that I usually need to do, but pause and see if you can notice. And sometimes you might need support to do this from a friend or someone else. But see if you can notice where that part is in your body that is leading to that action. So for example, I have when I'm feeling that fawning energy I often if I sit back and notice I noticed there's like a vibration almost in my upper chest. That's like, gotta go, gotta go. Gotta go Help, Help Help gotta make them like me. It's like this very, I almost can see like a little person running around. I go, once I can feel that. I can notice Oh, okay, and one thing you can do. That's really powerful. It seems so small, but it's really powerful is to separate yourself and your identity from that part, not rejecting it, but recognizing it's one part of you. So like, in my example, I would be Oh, my little scared girl that runs around and makes everybody happy. She's here. Hello. Hello. Yeah. Hug. What are you afraid of right now? All right. All right. I get it. Yeah, this is this is a real this is a real deal thing for me. The realtor is mad at you right now. I'm a realtor was mad at me. So Oh, okay. Yeah, I get it and being able to hold that part. And then it'll be different for different people. Maybe you call in spirit, maybe you call in an ancestor, maybe you can draw on the Divine Mother within you. But find a part that can take care of that part. Give it what it needs. So instead of pushing it away, running away, ask it what it means. And see if you get an answer. Sometimes the answer comes in words, sometimes you might get an image of a memory, like this part is being reminded of a time, you know, when it was when you were five, and you got just eviscerated by a teacher? Oh, okay, well, then that part needs to know, can you see can you look around, can you see we're not five anymore, we're not there anymore. So just listening to that pausing, listening to the part, separate it from you. It's not all of you, it's just a part of you. See if you can give it the care that it needs. And then from that place, you have more possibilities for how you want to move forward in the world. But that that whole action is doing exactly what we were talking about. It's calling this part good. It's treating it as good. It's not a bad part of you. It's mistaken. It's operating on misinformation. It's maybe not the part you want to follow in this instance, but it's not bad. So you're actually enacting that you are still good, even in the midst of a reaction that isn't the one you want to be having right now. Did that? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  14:29  
that all that helps. That definitely helps because it's like acknowledging that the desire to be safe is in you. And the desire to be liked is in you, because it feels like it's linked to safety or survival. It's just like taking the time I heard you say the word taking the time and then listening and then you know, asking what is it need and then if you can, giving that even if you might not have that part direct your actions in the email or your actions in the meeting. But it's part of you. I want to shift us forward. Because you also talked about shame. You said control and shame. What do you see as the role of shame? Why are you bringing it up?

Unknown Speaker  15:11  
Well, you know this about me, Amanda, but I would say so I have an African American husband been married for over 25 years, I started doing work around race and racism, a little bit in high school more in college. But one of the places where shame had such a huge impact on my life, one of many, but one was that I would say, I got stuck in shame as a white person. And I basically felt bad about the state of the world, I would fall apart a lot. If I saw news stories, or whatever, I would get so overwhelmed by shame that mostly all I really did in terms of action was trying to help my young, black biracial sons to feel good about themselves, I didn't have the capacity to do anything else to include having hard conversations in my own family. So there was a moment when I was sitting in a restaurant. And after I'd been working with you for a bit, and some others sitting in a restaurant with my husband, it was a predominantly black clientele black owned restaurant. And I remember having this aha moment where I went, Oh, my gosh, like I said, I had commented about how wonderful it was to be in this space. And then all of a sudden, I realized, Oh, I'm the bad person here. According to my internal view, I'm bad. I'm ruining this wonderful place. And I could feel in that moment that was not helping me to be anti racist, to be an ally, to be courageous. It wasn't helping me it was keeping me all heavy, and scared and sad, and sick in my body. Yeah. And it wasn't helping anybody. So that's one example of where I saw it show up in me. And I would say it kept me basically stuck for at least two decades. And it's very common in the white people, especially that I work with, but it can show up according to other identities or privileges as well, that somehow we think feeling ashamed and making other people feel ashamed is the work.

Unknown Speaker  17:14  
Oh, my God,

Unknown Speaker  17:16  
I just had to laugh. Because sometimes it seems like the aim is to get white people to feel a shame. And I'm so disinterested, I am so disinterested. That's like, I don't know, is that from the 70s? I don't know, the 80s. Whatever. I've been so many workshops, where it seemed like that was one of the unstated goals. So if you do feel shame, or when you do feel shame, because let's admit it, we're human, right, when you have that shame reaction, because it's usually a reaction. How do you recover yourself?

Unknown Speaker  17:50  
What's kind of like the other question you asked, and that it's a practice just like lifting weights, a practice, it's a meditation, it's something to return to. But one of the things that I've found help helpful, and this isn't unique to me is again, coming back to the body and the emotions, so feeling it and naming it, oh, I'm noticing I'm feeling shame. For me, it usually shows up first as a thought, like, I'm doing something wrong, or I'm a bad person or something. And then I noticed, oh, I'm feeling shame, if I can actually let myself feel it as a sensation. And this takes a lot of practice, because we're not taught to name sensations in our body. So sensations are things like hot, cold, tingly, contracted heavy, and you could look up some on Google, but we're not taught to use them. So it can take a while but learning to name it and feel like in me shame usually is it feels like an upward motion of it feels hot. Usually, for me, it comes up to my face. And so I noticed that and I let myself feel it. Oh, I'm feeling shame name. I'm feeling shame, okay, and just let that be. Just let it be a thing. That's one of the most powerful things you can do. And another really powerful thing you can do is tell somebody what you're feeling ashamed about Brene Brown talks about this all the time in her work on vulnerability and shame that shame likes to stay hidden. So one of the most powerful things you can do to dissipate its power is to tell someone else I'm ashamed to even say this but I need to tell you, I just had this thought it's such a horrible thought, you know, or I just did this thing, whatever it is someone you trust the wise but those are two of the things that I do regularly.

Unknown Speaker  19:39  
Well, I love that. I love that. And you mentioned Brene Brown and a lot of people know him Brene Browns work and I want more people to know of your work. You do have a book coming out. And it is an opportunity for people to learn or to walk the path. Yeah. Tell us about the book.

Unknown Speaker  19:56  
I'm very excited about it was fun knowing I was going to talk to you today, because just this morning, when I woke up, I got an email with the final interior design corrections made. So I was sending back that approval. So the book won't be out until the fall, but it's going to be available for presale really soon. So, feel better do better a guide for people who want to change the world, but sometimes have trouble making it to lunch. It's not a really long book, it's got eight chapters, and the first four are ways to feel better. And the second four are ways to do better. Each chapter has lack indigenous or person of color, who's written and contributing essay, one of whom is Jennifer, she's over here on my tween. And so it's really an invitation to walk this different path to walk this path. It is about letting go of sacrifice and suffering and having to be good and having to be perfect and having to stay miserable. Because other people are miserable, letting go of all of that, and all of this shame that we've been talking about and finding new paths forward. And it's a lot of what we were talking about today. How do you find ways to follow your body's wisdom? How do you find ways to follow the wisdom of your emotions? How do you find community so you're not doing this alone. So it's this both and the feeling better isn't just about you, because people who come to work with me and have these questions that we're talking about here. You don't want your feeling better to be because you close your eyes to all the suffering that's happening in the world. We don't want that but you are feeling better. Here's my argument from my experience and that with many other people you are feeling better is what will change the world. You're living in radical self love, like Sonia Renee Taylor talks about radical self love, it wants to go out and create and delight and off your money. Right? That's what it does.

Unknown Speaker  22:00  
It shows when you have that radical self love. You're not scared. You want to give it just Yeah, it's

Unknown Speaker  22:07  
it's actually the fear and shame mentality that's led to the kind of selfishness that we are wanting to avoid that many of us have seen. There are people who are hoarding money. We don't want to be like them. They're people who are you know, of course, we want to learn to love them. Yeah. And this new paradigm? Yeah, we don't want to follow that path. But there's another option. There's a there are infinite other options, actually, that follow this other paradigm that we're told it's another way to be a leader in law. So what I hear you say, then another way to leadership? Absolutely, yes.

Unknown Speaker  22:39  
So Deb, coming back, having a chance to hear some of the comments from folks who are listening, there are two things I want to lift up. One is that radical means roots returning to your roots. And you mentioned radical self love. And so let's talk about what's radical about self love, as opposed to what is self centered for complacent or what makes it radical. And if there's anybody out here who you feel like is embodying radical self love right now in the social justice landscape, or whose work is leading to more social justice indirectly, I just love to hear your thoughts about that. What's radical about self love?

Unknown Speaker  23:18  
Yeah, well, radical self love is used by Sonia, Renee Taylor, who wrote the book, the body is not an apology, and the workbook your body's not an apology, she is absolutely a leader in this and her work is been transformative for me and continues to be and she really does an amazing job of showing us this practice of starting with our own bodies, and offering radical self love to our own bodies. And one example she gives is shifting. So for example, many women will go to stores and not fit into something if their bodies too large or not the right shape, and we will turn that against ourselves. But if instead we are operating out of the paradigm of radical self love, and that no body is an apology, all bodies are amazing. What's good in the world, your body exactly as it is, then we look at the situation and go, Wait a minute, why is there nothing in this store that fits me there's a problem with the system. So this radical self love for my own body helps me to start looking at what's actually the problem, which is not my body. And then as we do that, we start looking beyond our own bodies at bodies that are different than our bodies and where are they also not being treated as if they are as amazing as they are? So that's one let me

Unknown Speaker  24:45  
pop in with one. Yes, that was a good good one. It made me think of Toni Morrison, the late great Toni Morrison who, yes, which transitioned and one of the things she said is that she wrote books that she would want to read. And as an editor Working for a major publishing company, she helped to shepherd so many black women's works. And there was something missing in the broader American literature landscape. So yeah, so she loved herself. She loved her people she loved her culture enough to write from that perspective, like it was a serious, beautiful perspective to embody. So beautiful. So whenever you do it, if you do it in the form that you're saying the day to day, like, where you shop, and how you look at yourself to honoring your voice, yeah, well, I

Unknown Speaker  25:33  
know we both love Adrian Marie Browns work. I think she's another one who is an incredible leader in this space, emergent strategy pleasure activism. She has a book I haven't read yet called, we will not cancel us. And she has another one coming out with Sonya, Renee Taylor. So she's another one. Prentice Hemphill has a beautiful podcast that I think, again, provides a space where there's an awareness that things are really painful. But an unwillingness to have that be the focus.

Unknown Speaker  26:06  
Yes, for that to be the primary context, the

Unknown Speaker  26:10  
only flight Yeah, and to have it be the only focus. So then the only proper response is to be miserable, if the only thing we are focusing on is all the suffering all the pain that is real, we don't want to not see it. But if that's the only thing kind of like what you were saying to if the only thing is that I'm a victim, I'm impressed. I'm not also recognizing I'm also a powerful being with an amazing body and incredible emotions. There's so much suffering, and there's so much beauty and power, it's that both and that we have to weave together or that I desire to see us weaving together and that I find to be part of that new paradigm. You're you're talking about this new way forward. That is, it seems scary to say but less about fighting more where I see it is it's more like dissolving, digesting Some people use the word transmuting. And I'm pulling my hands down because that's how it feels. To me. It's like this coming from underneath from within dissolving instead of this violent force forward. And I'm not saying no one should be doing really strong, brave things. I don't know what each person's specific calling is. But I'm seeing overall and feeling in myself this movement towards a fundamentally different way to do the work.

Unknown Speaker  27:34  
I want to call up two things. So one is you said to me in a phone call, you said mycelium was a model. So I'm just dropping that pebble in the water for all of us who are listening to check out mycelium and remember what we know about mycelium and how they work. And then the second thing is on this call, Barb has mentioned the word radical is roots. And that root work is often on the unseen level. Yeah. So just because something is big and brash doesn't mean that it's radical, that it's working, going two or three or four levels down, which ended up giving us you know, the mess that we're in right now.

Unknown Speaker  28:14  
Yeah. And whenever you talk about that, I always think about trying to pull out a dandelion root and just really hard because they go so far down. There's so much just loosening the soil, loosening the soil, loosening the soil, like there's so much of that

Unknown Speaker  28:29  
and dandelions are beneficial. They're healthy, they come back again and again, because their roots are so deep. So

Unknown Speaker  28:38  
yeah, so actually, that's a terrible example. Because we don't actually need to pull it out the dandelion we actually need to eat more of them, to be nourished by their incredible strength.

Unknown Speaker  28:51  
It's like reorienting our vision. Yeah. Looking a little common meat, inexpensive, marginalized.

Unknown Speaker  29:00  
That's a whole nother conversation when you start talking about the plants that we've rejected. And the ones that actually we need. Yeah, which are often the same. Well, we have to we do have

Unknown Speaker  29:11  
to come back for another conversation. But for this one, we're gonna get to a completion. So everybody, thank you for being with us. I want to thank our special guest Deb shine, the Valentine, who you can follow or check out at thriving the number four equity.com thriving for equity.com. You can get her new book,

Unknown Speaker  29:32  
what does it say the book's title again, Deb.

Unknown Speaker  29:33  
It's called feel better, do better a guide for people who want to change the world but sometimes have trouble making it to lunch. And I have a weekly blog. So if you don't want to wait for some encouragement, that's a really good space. And you can sign up for that on the website as well. I sent that out weekly on Thursday. Thank

Unknown Speaker  29:52  
you. Thank you, Deb. Thank you to everyone.

Unknown Speaker  29:55  
Thank you, Amanda so much. You're welcome. You're

Unknown Speaker  29:58  
welcome. Thank you everyone who commented This will be available soon you're welcome lots of people sending you thanks and sending you hearts Deb

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