The Mother Shame We All Share

05/08/2015 04:15 pm ET | Updated May 08, 2016
Nick Stevens via Getty Images

I often watch Ted Talks on my smartphone when I run on the treadmill. Watching the news makes me grumpy and music doesn't always distract me enough. There are thousands of Ted Talks and never enough time to watch them all and they're the perfect time chunk for a good workout.

I run and learn new things. It's a win/win in my book.

To my delight, this led to my discovery of Brené Brown's second Ted Talk, which I hadn't yet heard.

Of course, I should have considered that Brené has a tendency to speak truths that at times make me cry, but, whatever, I can't be the first person who raced a machine while crying, right?

Her first talk, which I've watched numerous times, have blogged about, and have forced many friends to watch, covered the topic of vulnerability. This second talk dives into the subject of shame, the research subject that originally sent Brené onto her discoveries about vulnerability.


Such a loaded word and concept. Definitely something none of us like to think about, let alone admit we ever feel. We like to pretend that shame is reserved for the huge stuff, that's it's linked to big bad things like rape, cheating, or those things that society agrees is wrong. But shame is more than just that, we all experience shame, it's present in all of our every day lives, parading as something else. And ironically, none of us should feel shame about feeling shame.

According to Brené Brown, while guilt is the focus on behavior, shame is the focus on self. It's that inner voice that tells you that you aren't good enough. For women, apparently, shame centers on a "web of unattainable conflicting, competing expectations about who we're supposed to be." (For men shame is different, check out the video below for more details on that.)

Ain't that the truth...

We are women. We are expected to "do it all, do it perfectly, and never let them see you sweat."

Did I just make you a tad anxious?

So sorry. It's not me. It's society.

That post I wrote a few years ago? About not being Super Woman? I wrote that out of shame I felt over not being able to do it all. The outpouring of love and support shocked me. I thought I'd be flagellated for admitting my failures. Instead I was embraced, not even picked on by a troll.

Shame is also that voice, for me my Egmos, the voice that constantly asks me who I think I am, who talks me out of writing, who talks me into second guessing my choice of topic for my next book.

Why do we let shame cow us? Why do we let shame keep us from being who we want to be? Who we feel we could be?

Does shame only retract when we start talking about it? When we open up and realize we all feel the same way?

If that's the case, then let's talk. Let's share. Let's let it all out. What does your shame tell you?

I'm a mom who takes good care of her kids, but crappy care of her house. I'm a writer who loves to write, but who rarely lets herself write what she loves. I'm a friend who can't seem to write to her far flung friends. I'm...

I'm just a woman trying to face her shame so it loses the control it has on her life.

A version of this post was orginally published on It's my life... by Jessica Rosenberg, just another mom trying to do it all before she falls into bed every night. Her first novel, Aloha Also Means Goodbye is available on Amazon.

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