Module 2.4 – All

Module 2.4 - Transparency and Connection: The Antidote to Shame

Do you feel “good enough” to allow those around you to honestly know your fears and shortcomings? Think about a time you made a mistake that came to light to those around you. How did the people you know react? How did you react? Spend some time in your Core Journal sharing what this incident means to you. Do you allow yourself to make mistakes? Do you allow others to make mistakes around you? What are your answers telling you about your core health? Being able to say “I’m enough” about ourselves is vital to our core well-being. If you struggle to believe you’re enough, let’s make a note of that and discuss it in our next one-on-one.

Name:Coreen Campos

I feel good enough to be vulnerable and share feedback but sometimes I struggle to receive. For me it depends on who it's with and how much trust I have. It also depends on my relationship with that person and if I believe they have my best interest at heart. With that said, I find myself needing framing and context, but with context I need specific and fairly direct. When I think about letting others see my mistakes, in my current role, this is harder and makes me feel nervous, particularly because I'm in an environment with more of a 'call out' culture. Some of this may have been due to a toxic person we had on staff who is now gone, but we still have 1-2 employees that struggle to admit a mistake and tend to blame everyone or deflect the focus if things are being highlighted on them that may not be looking as good or going well. For me, this coupled with a lot of open criticism, started to take a toll as I allowed it to permeate my mental well being and I began to internalize this. I imagine this played on both an insecurity of not being enough or not being smart enough particularly, because we have 2 employees that are definitely wanting to have all the information or 'know' everything. It is likely also tied to affirmation/language being one of my primary love languages. Interestingly, I find that I don't always need a lot of praise, but I need to know how people feel or where I stand with them, this level of honesty and transparency helps me build trust. I appreciate it, even if it's not as positive, much more than I value someone being 'nice.' Sure I don't want people to be overtly cruel, but being superficially nice without substance also doesn't instill much confidence with me. I appreciate being honest. I strive to exhibit that, but what I've learned is that sometimes my behavior fluctuates given the environment that I'm in.

Before I came to United Way I would wear my mistakes, and cultivated a culture of let's laugh, find solution and move on, it was integral to our work, as we served youth in the justice and child-welfare system, moving on from mistakes and building resiliency were a core part of our work, and modeling that among the staff was also critical. Mistakes were never a game of 'got ya,' but it has not felt that way with United Way. It was more about who could do the most reading to 'track' whats happening, memorize emails and 'getting to the bottom' of a mistake. Often people use language like 'sadly, you didn't do this quick enough,' or 'well I sent this to you and never heard back' and this is rarely done with a laugh or smile or a 'hey, let me send that so it's the top of your list' or SOMETHING that gives grace, given heavy workload. There is a lot of assumptions about peoples workload and never enough questions or curiosity, which helps build connection and understanding. Additionally, I have found across the leadership and line staff (and with many new leaders it's them AND the line staff collectively, which is interesting) have been gossipy even about personnel issues and I've spoken up about the lack of leadership training and perhaps we've underestimated what seems common sense to our executive leadership team (which I'm apart of), that we have lived experience and years of training, but some of our newer managers may need to get formal training.

In this culture, I have laughed it off and made a joke about normally being perfect, but that too was put down as 'why are you so aloof,' or some of the staff perpetuating this misinterpreting that as me being incompetent because they weren't seeing the cultural shift I've been modeling. So now, I'm trying to label these behaviors...like, 'hey, I know it may appear like I'm being aloof, but I want you to know that I see X,Y,Z, and I'm addressing it with A,B,C, and I will have integrity about this HR issue and just as I wont' gossip about you or air your dirty laundry, which I hope you appreciate, I won't do that to our colleagues, it's how I show care and respect.' I think this has helped some, but I find, as the culture changes, I'm still recuperating from this phase of doubt. I almost didn't last and I had to pipe up and let our President know that the constant call out culture, criticism and gossip are creating an unhealthy environment and it's even impacting me personally and feels opposite of the values that I know she has and has shared that she wants to cultivate. I also began wondering if this was the place for me. Ultimately, I've stuck it out and slowly but surely, the culture is changing. I'm disappointed in myself that I STARTED at some points to play the 'kick the bucket' game of accountability and that I diminished modeling mistakes but I'm starting to pick that up again. I'm already struggling with being hard on myself, so I need balance.

Do you feel “good enough” to allow those around you to honestly know your fears and shortcomings? Think about a time you made a mistake that came to light to those around you. How did the people you know react? How did you react? Spend some time in your Core Journal sharing what this incident means to you. Do you allow yourself to make mistakes? Do you allow others to make mistakes around you? What are your answers telling you about your core health? Being able to say “I’m enough” about ourselves is vital to our core well-being. If you struggle to believe you’re enough, let’s make a note of that and discuss it in our next one-on-one.

Name:Jill West

I had a similar experience to yours with your staff. It was one of the owners of a company I was working with on a particularly long and difficult transition after a hostile takeover. I was there for almost 2 years and started to feel like there would never be a cohesive staff. Company A's employees felt entitled to railroad company B's employees and had a "victor" mentality because they were the "conquering" company. The infighting had gotten the best of me and I started just putting my head down and ignoring everyone. I found every possible reason to be out in the field and focused solely on maintaining those operations. I left the office workers to rip each other to shreds. I was so over them all. One day, the owner I had worked with on previous projects called me and asked me what had happened to the happy Jill who never let anything bother her. We talked about the stressors and he agreed that the situation sucked. "Why haven't you come to me with these struggles? I ask you everyday if things are going well and you say 'yup, everything is great!'"

He was right. I felt like admitting that I was failing to integrate the offices was a reflection on my skills. My refusal to ask for help was because of the shame of having to admit that I wasn't superwoman and was failing the company. I had promised that I could do it - I could fix the toxicity and not have to let anyone go. But I couldn't. One person in particular was just a toxic individual and was solely responsible for 90% of the turmoil in the office. She belittled and picked at other staff members and was even suspected of shadiness in her accounting. But she had a sick child at home and was a single mother. She was also the only POC in the office. I couldn't do it because I was too worried about looking like I was a horrible person for firing a single mother or, worse, I'd look racist! It was an impossible situation and I mentally checked out.

We came up with a solution that included temporarily transferring her to another office. Later, it came out that she was sleeping with someone in upper management (who was married) and was using the company escrow account to pay her bills. The manager she was sleeping with was renting out properties he didn’t own! She had been purposely starting drama to make her indiscretions fade into the chaos. If he had not approached me to have that conversation, I would've likely quit the project and felt like a huge failure over it all. It wasn't until I admitted that I needed help that all of the issues came to light. It turns out, if I had been communicating my suspicions sooner, we would have figured out the issue much quicker and saved everyone a lot of aggravation.

I'm honestly not sure how I am with vulnerability these days. I don't get many chances to be vulnerable except in my writing and a little in the cohort sessions. My network has dwindled and I feel isolated and alone. My husband is great but he's not a substitute for friends. And that's a whole other issue that goes back to my life in PA.

Deep breath… here goes...

My ex cheated on me with one of my best friends. The relationship they had lasted about 2 years and I never knew it. There was such a deep feeling of betrayal and I practically went into seclusion. I stopped reaching out to everyone because I was so ashamed of myself for 1) being blind to it and 2) being the type of woman who was cheated on by the two people who were closest to me. I didn't want anyone to know so I hid it and tried to forgive him because I was afraid of being alone. I even hired him at a company where I was working and HE CHEATED WITH SOMEONE THERE!!!

I went into a deep depression and started a relationship with someone I had met online. After talking for months, I drove to meet him and he ghosted me. I realize now what a blessing that was (he was a fucked up person) but, at the time, it destroyed me. I had a nervous breakdown and was suicidal at times. In the middle of it all, politics destroyed my professional network and I went to consult in the restaurant business to escape it. Eventually, I had no choice but to start working on myself. That was when I found Brene Brown. She literally saved my life. She was randomly suggested to me by Audible and it wasn't even one of her books - it was a recording of a seminar she did called the Power of Vulnerability. It is the first thing I ever got on Audible and I listened to it and her books on repeat every waking and sleeping moment for the next few years. I feel like I listened to her so much that she reprogrammed my brain. When she talked about authenticity, I didn't even understand it. I would cry alone at night and beg God to tell me who I was. I had never experienced vulnerability in myself or anyone around me at that point, and I didn't understand it.

Now that I want friends, I don't even know how to make them. I literally feel like the lonely kid on the playground that nobody wants to talk to most of the time. I don't want the kind of friends I had before. They aren't the kind of people I want in my life anymore. They were fake and I was fake. I look around me and all I see are fake people. Until I started going to the Sunday community, I didn't know there were people like those out there. It's the first time I've interacted with genuine people and it's intimidating, at times. I feel like I don't fit in sometimes, like I'm not good enough or I can't relate because I wasn't an evangelical or haven't been part of a church for years. Ha, I always find a way to separate myself and be the "odd one out".

Ugh, I always say I'm not going to ramble but I end up doing it anyway. I've never actually told that story in its entirety before. I've shared bits and pieces but I never laid it out like that because of the shame. I bawled my eyes out and I clearly needed it.

Do you feel “good enough” to allow those around you to honestly know your fears and shortcomings? Think about a time you made a mistake that came to light to those around you. How did the people you know react? How did you react? Spend some time in your Core Journal sharing what this incident means to you. Do you allow yourself to make mistakes? Do you allow others to make mistakes around you? What are your answers telling you about your core health? Being able to say “I’m enough” about ourselves is vital to our core well-being. If you struggle to believe you’re enough, let’s make a note of that and discuss it in our next one-on-one.

Name:Micah Ruiz Esparza

The simplest way to put it is that the group comes alive. I have watched that when people feel free to be vulnerable, they are so much ore happy and have much better input and creativity. There are lots of ways to promote this. A big part is to create a safe space. Even if someone says something wrong or unhelpful, you acknowledge them and thank them for sharing. This lets everyone know that even their bad ideas are welcome to be shared because sometimes the best ideas are sparked from really bad ones. What makes us afraid is judgment and feeling like we are not valuable unless we give the best input. This can happen when people are too critical of others who share. When you are hurt, it becomes a lot harder to be honest and share because you build a wall to protect yourself.

It is hard for me to take criticism. I have gotten a lot better at it through the years, but it still hurts me. I do carry that fear that I am not enough and that adding one more mistake or flaw would be too much. But I am constantly reminded that everyone has flaws and mistakes. I used to react by getting really defensive or diverting attention, but now I try to own it as much as it hurts. Sometimes I try to dissociate myself from the mistake which can sometimes lead me to be apathetic. I know that that can be harmful as well because it can ignore the problem that I need to work on. I think what I need to do, just like I said in my last entry is to remind myself of my worthiness and what I have to offer and know that my mistakes and flaws are opportunities to live into my worth even more. I don't have to earn it or achieve it. I just am enough. I feel as though I have learned a lot in this realm but have a long way to go still. I need to work on being confident in sharing even if I think I could be wrong.

Do you feel “good enough” to allow those around you to honestly know your fears and shortcomings? Think about a time you made a mistake that came to light to those around you. How did the people you know react? How did you react? Spend some time in your Core Journal sharing what this incident means to you. Do you allow yourself to make mistakes? Do you allow others to make mistakes around you? What are your answers telling you about your core health? Being able to say “I’m enough” about ourselves is vital to our core well-being. If you struggle to believe you’re enough, let’s make a note of that and discuss it in our next one-on-one.

Name:Naun Garcia

2.4 TEST

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