Melissa Heisler, Stress Reduction Expert


An amazing thing happened, I made a mistake.  And it was a doozy too.  I set up my radio show incorrectly so my 30-minute show was abruptly ended in 15-minutes.  It is so important to me to have the radio show go smoothly because any missteps will be forever accessible therefore having an effect on my character, credibility, and how others perceive me.  However making that mistake was not the amazing thing.  What I was blown away by was how I handled it.

In the past this incident would have lasted days, weeks or years in my memory.  I would have replayed it again and again each time further instilling the belief of how stupid I was, of how I hurt others, and how I was unworthy of joy because of what I had done.  I would have used this incident to shame myself into oblivion.  But this time was different.  This time I apologized to my guests and made it up to them with an hour-long show later this month.  Then I forgave myself.  Yes, I made a mistake but it did not affect who I am.  Yes, I made an error but I was not an error.  Yes, things did not go as planned but that didn’t change my self-worth.

Melissa Heisler, Empowerment Coach
Melissa Heisler, Empowerment Coach

Perhaps for some of you this is a no brainer.  But my fellow perfectionists may resonate with my story.  How often do we judge ourselves by our actions and not our inherent worth?  How often do we forgive others but replay in our minds how we could have done better?  How often do we translate the ups and downs of being human into a judgment of our character?  There was such an amazing lightness when I release the burden of self-attack and moved into self-acceptance and true freedom.  I took responsibility for my actions and fixed the situation as best as I could, but the step I didn’t take was punishing myself for my error.  What would it have served? 

Brene Brown has a wonderful talk on TED about failure, shame, and vulnerability.  As she says, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.”  The mistakes I made in the past would have sent me into shame and would eventually attack my worth.  Being vulnerable about our errors releases shame and builds up our worth.  Shame holds us back from being all that we can be.  Releasing shame empowers us.

What are some things you are ashamed about?  What would happen if instead of hiding your mistakes and errors because of your shame you owned them, shared them, and embraced them releasing the power of vulnerability and acceptance?  Be brave and share your stories here so you too can be released from your self-imposed prison of shame.  Feel the power of vulnerability.

Comments (6)

  1. EMarie
    July 9, 2013

    Thanks for this post today, Melissa. It is timely for me now, as yesterday the contract job I had performed since January abruptly ended.
    The emplohyer ended the contract at 6 mos., of what was to be a 1-yr contract commitment. This decision was based on my productivity in a digital environment that moved far too fast for me, and boggled my mind.
    I’ve always hoped that ‘others’ would have and show more compassion for me and my well-being than I am able to. But not so. The world is a dog-eat-dog competition, and based in competitiveness. I do not identify with these values.
    Anyway, your post today is timely and I will read it several times. Still in process of ‘forgiving myself’ for the loss of my condo in the economic collapse of 3 yrs ago.
    But this job loss is just one more thing to put on the pile of things to torture myself with!

    • Melissa
      July 9, 2013

      Sorry to hear about your challenges. Torturing ourselves gets us nothing. This is a great opportunity to accept what you want and who you are. If the company you worked for was not a good fit, bless them and send them on their way. Find a company that does identify with your values. Accept who you are, where you are, and what you want. This is the first step to moving forward into the life you are meant. Wishing you all the best!

  2. Christine Lassota
    July 9, 2013

    Interesting, I think, how that experience theme worked in to my session with you this morning. (No coincidence)… Thanks for the TEDTALK suggestion… any of those that I have been led to have generally been pretty insightful and some downright amazing.
    You are appreciated!

    • Melissa
      July 9, 2013

      I am so glad you read today’s post – and yes, no coincidence. I thought I had introduced you to Brene Brown before. Glad you listened to her talk. She has fabulous information to share. You are appreciated too!

  3. ReginaE
    July 24, 2013

    What a great article. With age comes wisdom. We survive enough mistakes and bad judgments to know that most things are not worth making a big to do about and things work out in the end!

    • Melissa
      July 25, 2013

      And without those mistakes and “bad” judgments, we do not grow.

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