Why you never need to feel ashamed of yourself - The Self-Worth Experiment

Why you never need to feel ashamed of yourself

By Dr Berni Sewell | Love yourself

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Mar 17
Why you never need to be ashamed of yourself

I passed my driving test at first attempt when I was 18 years old.

And didn't sit on a driver's seat again for the next 10 years.

The thought of driving a car made me feel sick with worry and anxiety. I was overwhelmed by all the actions that needed to be completed simultaneously. Clutch, accelerator, indicator, look left, right and back, use the side mirrors, watch pedestrians, traffic and stick to speed limits.

It was just too much!

I was terrified of hurting somebody or stalling the car at traffic lights and crossroads. I would become a menace, obstacle and nuisance to the people around me. I was horrified of their judgement, rage and the inevitable verdict:

This woman is a driving imbecile!

So, I avoided it. Convinced myself that a car in the city was impractical anyway. That the 3-hour journey to see my family on the train at weekends was more comfortable anyway. And that I enjoyed taking the bus.

But I always knew. Driving was my biggest failure.

I felt so guilty when my grandma reminded me, once again, that she paid for my driving lessons and now I didn't drive! I felt so useless when my boyfriend wanted me to do my fair share of the 8-hour drive to our holiday location in Croatia and I burst into tears. And I was so ashamed of myself when my Mum tried to teach me and I steered the car into the neighbour’s fence in blind panic.

I was a disappointment to them all!

Every time I found myself behind the steering wheel, I felt physically sick and froze, mind blank and petrified. Driving was my nemesis. An unsurmountable wall of shame I could never overcome.

Until my mind set started to change...

The true reason why you are ashamed of yourself

Everybody I knew could drive. They got in the car, turned the key and off they went. Naturally, without a second thought. It was easy for them.

So, why was it so hard for me?

What was wrong with me that I just couldn't figure it out? It was apparent that everybody else could!

For years, I beat myself up, punished myself for being such a loser. The all-consuming shame about my inadequate, pathetic Being undermined my self-worth and fuelled my harsh inner critic. I swore at myself and tried to force myself to drive.

But my real failure wasn’t that fact that I couldn’t drive. The true issue was that everybody else could.

Making me feel incapable, useless and inferior compared to them. I felt like the only failure in a world of successes.

The truth is though that we can't ever compare ourselves to others. We are unique. Our skill sets, circumstances, abilities, talents are different. We are good at some things and suck at others.

No shame in that!

Failing one thing doesn't make us "a failure" (not even if everybody else succeeds). Our talents may just be buried somewhere else. It's not our task to beat ourselves up over the talents we don't have. It's our mission to uncover the talents we do have. And failure is an unavoidable part of this mission.

Everybody fails. Not everybody has found their talents yet. But that doesn't mean that anybody is worth less or more than others.

We ARE all equally worth.

Appreciating that you are doing your best

Driving is not my talent. So what? I was doing my best.

Even when I did nothing at all, when I was paralysed, intimidated and stuck. I did my best with the knowledge and awareness I had available at the time.

No shame in that either!

Life is about learning, growing, evolving. What’s the point of cursing yourself for what you can't do, what you should be able to do and where you should be in your life? Failure is never a reason to feel ashamed of yourself. Only an opportunity to learn.

In a year from now you will make different decisions, discover something new that will change your perspective on life, acquire new skills, succeed at something you fail at now.

Your best is good enough!

I conquered driving eventually. Bought myself a car, sat in it without turning the key for weeks, started slowly with short distances and built up from there.

I still get nervous if I face a long-distance drive or need to go somewhere I’ve never been before. But I drive.

Yes, it took me years longer to learn it compared to most other people. But I was never a failure. Because I did my very best.

And the same applies to you. Here and now, you are doing your best. And your best will always be enough. No matter how it compares to other people's best.

Because this is what you have to give right now. This is you.

And you are enough.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for this post!! I actually am in the shoes you were before about the whole driving thing. I’m presently working on my self-worth/self-love and thinking that maybe once I feel more solid about myself I will be able to conquer my fear/shame/anxiety about driving.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Michelle! I got my driving license at the age of 18. And then didn’t sit behind a wheel until I was 27. I started from scratch with driving lessons with a wonderful instructor. Whenever I was worried I would stall the car, annoy other drivers or make a mistake, he would just reply: “And? What does it matter?” I bought my first car when I was 28. And then had it sit in my drive for 4 months until I could find the courage to drive it. I started small. Around the block first, then to the next village. One step at a time. It is all about practice at the end of the day. But you are on the right path. Because first you need to find the belief in yourself and your abilities and the love in yourself so you can be patient and forgive yourself. All the best, Berni

  • D. says:

    I’m in my 60’s and haven’t had a drivers license since I was 22. I’m ashamed to take the test and failing, a further humiliation for all to see. My father took me out once to teach me to drive when I was a young teen, saw something in me he didn’t like, and promptly never tried to teach me ever again. I think he hated me because of all the nervous questions I asked, and he already scorned me deeply for having a math learning disability (which is why I never went to college– you can’t get into college if you can’t do math). My life is garbage and my marriage is a bleak, stressed-out joke because I can’t drive, and that will never, ever change. I don’t have what it takes to fix this.

    • Thank you so much for your comment. I am so sorry to hear that your are so deeply unhappy and feel you can never get out of it. I can see from what you wrote that you feel powerless, a victim of other people’s scorn and terrible circumstances. And that’s only too understandable of course. But if you are reading blog posts like these, you still haven’t given up on yourself and you can start making a difference. If I may recommend you start with the affirmation “I am the only power in my life”. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it. Just keep repeating it over and over. Also working on self-worth would be a good idea. If you want, you can subscribe to the Healthy Self-Worth Starter Kit. It’s free and will help you look at yourself more positively.

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