What Can Happen Under The Influence of Shame

Yesterday I had a shame attack.

I woke up after a long night's sleep, recovering from leading a five-day retreat, and found a post on Facebook from an angry participant who called me rude and suggested that I was a fraud.


I finished reading the post (about ten times in the hopes that I was misreading the message and it would magically transform into something nice), and soon felt the familiar fire of shame rise up from my stomach into my face, scorching everything in its path.  

A public slap down.
Feeling exposed.

A horrible human being for hurting someone's feelings.

I lay in bed for a long time racking my brains to remember the person and the encounter, but I had no recollection whatsoever.

So, I deleted the post and went back to sleep in an effort to escape the death grip of shame.

That's when something magical happened.

For the first time since her death, my friend Debbie Ford came to me in a dream.  I didn't see her but I could feel her presence and then I heard...

"You are rude, Cheryl.
And you're a bitch, too.
And while we're at it,
sometimes you can be short with people,
and a little too critical,
and harsh and abrupt
in ways that hurt." 

I listened as she filled my consciousness with her words.

"Until you can embrace this truth about yourself, you'll always be afraid of hearing it from others. Remember, we are all everything and what you can't be with won't let you be."  

I woke from the dream feeling a wave of cool relief wash over me.  

Debbie was right.

I am rude.
I am harsh and critical.
I am abrupt and impatient and too quick to cut people off sometimes, especially with the pressure of managing a large group experience.  

And while I would never intentionally hurt anyone, the truth is I sometimes do.

There you have it.

It's not easy to look at the unattractive parts of us. They feel shameful and embarrassing. But face them and embrace them we must if we're committed to self-love and wholeness.

One thing that helps me is to see life as a school. From this perspective, everything holds an opportunity for healing - an invitation to love and accept myself (and others). 

I have to be honest. I'm no longer interested in trying to be the "Queen of Nice."  It's exhausting, not to mention impossible.  

I'm more interested in being me - all of me - good and bad, light and dark, kind and crappy.

And if I hurt someone along the way, I'm truly sorry. I'm a work in progress, too. 

I hope this story helps you to be softer with your rough edges. We could all use a little more love.  

Thank you Debbie Ford, author of the beautiful book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. Thank you for keeping me on the path to wholeness, even from the other side.

I miss you dear friend...

Every single day...

Take Action Challenge

This week, take a few minutes to close your eyes and listen to this beautiful song. You can find it here. Thanks, Judy!



zorro 13th March 2014 6:18 am


First, thank you so much for your brave transparency in telling your story. Pardon me, but I laughed at you self-deprecation in calling out the “Queen of Nice” label. It cuts right through all considerations of “brand” and gets to the heart of what the true purpose of social interaction, and social media, is in the first place. (BTW, it is no accident that the nickname for the social media genre is “So Me”)

I don’t have a FB account, but at the same time I don’t have a problem with social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter. But is our focus in using them just to build a shallow “brand” or are we truly conveying the “spirit” of who we are through our expression in them. By expressing your reflective thoughts on this today, I see you as a true pioneer, someone who is willing to take risks and get beyond façade, a real gutsy woman of genuineness, and a pioneer of real spiritual expression. This is a wonderful thing! Thank you for sharing with us, Cheryl, as you have given us much to ponder.

cyndy 13th March 2014 9:54 am
ellenb 13th March 2014 10:16 am

Thank you, Cheryl. I am in the process of making my intentions for a Spiritual Agreements program and your reference to wholeness and self-love really leapt out to me. I crafted this reference into one of my intentions for the program.

I love the ease and grace of your writing.

Yain 13th March 2014 10:24 am

I've felt shame in the last few days. I've told myself to let it go, but it's been hard without the insightful perspective you just provided. This message came just when I needed it. Thank you so much for being my shameful sister today, and with that taking it all away! :)

Greta 13th March 2014 11:49 am

Dear Cheryl,

Thank you so much for You. I have (during the last 2 days) gone through the exact same thing (oh agony...), and by reading your words I was (finally !!) able to relase and let go.

I bow to your honesty, Cheryl <3

Thank you - from the bottom of my heart dear one <3

Much Love <3

Deeni 13th March 2014 2:15 pm

Dear Cheryl, Thank You.

Your honesty, and courage regarding shame, is refreshing.

How does one handle misplaced shame?

I have done the best I could, with a very difficult situation, it didn't turn out very well, and I am made to feel shameful by others, for the outcome.

Others, that were absent when a solution to the situation was necessary.

I am unclear as to how to deal with this shame, for it is very real within me, albeit misplaced.

Much Love and Light to All. : )

cyndy 13th March 2014 3:56 pm

Deeni, Just a thought in case it helps you to understand or move some energy. When being shamed by others it is usually them trying to control you. Shame can often times be about control.

blzj555@gmail.com 13th March 2014 5:31 pm

Wow Cheryl this could not have come at a better time! Exactly what I needed, and so so so profound on so many levels.
THANK YOU for sharing this vital message and your honesty is a lovely and courageous thing.
What a gift you are to so many!! :smitten:

blzj555@gmail.com 13th March 2014 5:34 pm

This is going on with me right now, and I'm adding to it with my own shame voices. :( This post from Cheryl is resonating in ways I never could have imagined!!! :thumbs:

IC2ITUC 14th March 2014 10:48 am

Cheryl, A great reminder for many of us. At times we all come across to others in ways that hurt them or trigger their sensitivities, as you know. BTW, if you are a "bitch" at times, you are a nice looking one! :) (I can hear your laugh, good, I helped lift your vibration higher) :thumbs:

Bonnie Waters 14th March 2014 2:49 pm

I must say that I'm glad to be "sitting out" on this particular go-round, but mostly because I've been there so many times already. :) We are learning to love ourselves, and all that we are - completely, unconditionally, into wholeness. Thanks for sharing!

Bonnie Waters 14th March 2014 2:49 pm

I must say that I'm glad to be "sitting out" on this particular go-round, but mostly because I've been there so many times already. :) We are learning to love ourselves, and all that we are - completely, unconditionally, into wholeness. Thanks for sharing!

Jazzyj320 16th March 2014 5:52 pm

Thank you for your honesty. I usually have no problem admitting my not so pleasant parts but recently I had such a shame experience in which I made a person of light mad at me which I fully brought on myself by challenging a sentence she wrote that triggered in me my hurt of what I perceived was a sense of entitlement. She replied viciously and said she could not wait until the day I was hurt and judged. But instead of just seeing what I did was inappropriate (I profusely apologized to her), I went into deep shame and spent many days feeling like I was not fit to live and how horrible of a person I was. It took a long time to clear that energy from me and I didn't want to connect with anymore people of what light. So it was a gift (a gift I really didn't want, ha) because I had to separate myself from my shame and look at where it was coming from while being responsible for my actions. Thank you and many blessings.

Jazzyj320 16th March 2014 6:10 pm

This is interesting because I just posted a comment in which shame came up and I did something wrong because it didn't post! Anyway, thank you for your honesty because I recently had a shameful experience and even writing about it has caused it to come up again. I hurt a person of light by commenting on a sentence she wrote that triggered in me the hurt of what I perceived was a sense of superiority. She replied viciously and told me she could not wait until I was hurt and judged. I apologized profusely but instead of just seeing how I was inappropriate I went into days of a shame cycle where I felt I was such a horrible person and really had no value to be on this earth. It took me a session with a spiritual empath to clear what was going on. Thank you for your honesty!

peggysharon 16th March 2014 6:37 pm

Thanks Cheryl...I loved your presentation at the "I Can Do It, Toronto" ... I took it all in .... I think it's in my cells now ;-) Thanks ... xo

Heartfelt courage 17th March 2014 8:37 am

Strange how we can accept anything from a friend and question others motives when we are all one to begin with! A kiss to your other side. I believe she called it "the dark side".


Keep updated with Spirit Library

Author Information

Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the author of The New York Times bestselling books, Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, Stand Up for Your Life, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace and her new book The Art of Extreme Self Care. She was the first president of the International Coach Federation and holds one of their first Master Certified Coach credentials.

Books from Cheryl Richardson

Grace Cards Cover image
Cheryl Richardson
Stand Up for Your Life Cover image
Cheryl Richardson
Turning Inward (Journals) Cover image
Cheryl Richardson


Cheryl Richardson Archives