The Bitch Slap: The Only Thing You Should Ever Be Ashamed Of

bitch slap ashamed napoletanoI had a lunch date the other day — a first date, typical get-to-know-you conversation being flung back and forth over the table. At one point during the hour, he asked me: So, you seem to live a pretty “out there” kind of life. Anything you’re ashamed of?

In all honesty, I can’t remember the last time I thought about Things I Was Ashamed Of. Or, for the grammar and usage hounds out there, Thing Of Which I Am Ashamed.

First of all: Gents — if this question is in your current Dating Conversation Repertoire, might I suggest its immediate and merciless eradication?

Secondly: What a useless fucking question.

I’m pretty sure my head did that confused dog-style tilt to one side as I simply inquired, “Why on earth would you ask me something like that?” I didn’t yell. Raise my voice. Imply a “fuck you” or anything of the sort. I wanted to know.

“Because everyone has dirt — c’mon. You’ve got dirt. What would you throw in life’s washing machine if you could to get rid of it?” He posited back at me with a unsettling gleam in his eyes.

So I thought about it.

“Nothing,” I replied.

He wanted to argue the point. Needless to say, I’m confident we won’t be sharing conversation or furthering romantic intentions. Good luck, Godspeed, and good afternoon to you, sir.

This morning, I woke not being able to get this odd-as-hell exchange out of my mind. And it brought me to this:

The only thing we should ever be ashamed of is not having the courage to love ourselves. To give ourselves the credit that we are due, and for every success, brilliant failure, love won or lost, leap forward or setback.

And while I’m not ashamed of it, the one wish I have for whatever life I get to live after this one (and yes, I believe in that), is that I start loving myself and start living my life a whole lot sooner than I did during this one.

So ask yourself: what are YOU ashamed of?

Make the list. Read it over. And cross everything off until you get to the line your wrote about not having the courage to love yourself.

And then change that.

Have a kickass Thursday. You’ve been slapped (and so have I).

51 replies
  1. Walker Thornton
    Walker Thornton says:

    Love it!  I read you and see how absolutely powerful it is to live our true ‘out there’ lives. Thank you for that validation you provide.

  2. Barbara Goldberg
    Barbara Goldberg says:

    There you go again, I swear you have some connection to my brain! It took me 48 years to be able to look myself in the mirror and tell myself that I loved the person I was looking at and know that I truly meant it. Once I was able to do that a lot of other things started clearing up in my life. Yep it would have been nice to be living my life a whole lot sooner but I neither regret or am ashamed of the journey I was on to get to where I am now!

  3. jimbrochowski
    jimbrochowski says:

    Wow! Pretty out there for a first date, or hell any date. I think we all have skeletons, or things we’d like to take back, make a different decision about, not share with others, but those are the things that shape us, make us who we are, and allow us to learn – so yeah – no take backs. Nice Slap! (p.s. the new site is incredible! No disqus eh?)

    • RedheadWriting
      RedheadWriting says:

      jimbrochowski Glad you like the site –and Disqus is gone. Their support department was lacking during a critical stage in my brand and I had to go to a company that offered the support I needed and the product my audience deserves. Welcome to Livefyre 🙂

  4. Sandi Amorim
    Sandi Amorim says:

    The only thing we should ever be ashamed of is not having the courage to love ourselves.
    That line hit me between the eyes! As I approach my 50th birthday it seems like some major shift is taking place, like plates shifting beneath the ocean floor, and nothing seems quite right at the moment. I’ve been reexamining everything: business, branding, relationships, how I am with myself and my body – all of it. 
    And today I get it…I should be ashamed of myself for not loving myself the way I love others. I got it, I’m on it…and once again, thanks for the slap!

  5. Shirley at gfe
    Shirley at gfe says:

    That guy probably watches The Bachelor (or some other similarly inane show) for his “how-to-go-on-a-first-date” instruction. I think shame is BS, but I do believe that regret sticks with one, regret for things that we passed on. And that certainly would go hand in hand with not having the courage to love one’s self. Thanks, Erika.

  6. John_Trader1
    John_Trader1 says:

    I can see at some point in a relationship asking that question (although perhaps not in those exact words), but on a first date? Doesn’t seem prudent.
    There is so much truth to the saying “we are on our worse critics” and in some cases this works to our advantage (self-improvement, etc.) IF we act on it in a meaningful way. The trap I think some people fall into is they pound themselves with self-criticism and condition their brains to not even know how to have that courage to love themselves.

  7. vsellis
    vsellis says:

    Even though it may not have ended with sparks it’s funny how even an annoying conversation like that can lead to something good, like this post or simply being reminded that we need to love ourselves for the awesomeness we are. Funny, I read this post, jumped in the car and Pink’s “Perfect” was on.. sometimes the universe speaks to us and I was already having a pretty good day!

  8. stellapds
    stellapds says:

    I have been married for 13 years and I don’t think I would ask my wife that question. Maybe that is why I am still married after 13 years?

  9. gregmischio
    gregmischio says:

    C’mon, we all have stuff we’re ashamed of.  I still have flashbacks to memories of being an idiot back in grade school, high school, just yesterday.  We’re human. We screw up.  You can’t tell me you’re ashamed of nothing. And yeah, I tell myself that it’s okay and that life moves on and that we’ll all screw up.  But that stuff is just there, and you live with it and you learn from it.  But I’m not so sure it’s healthy to deny that you’re ashamed of some stuff from the past. My two cents worth.

    I would have been interested in what your date was ashamed of.  Or maybe not.

    • RedheadWriting
      RedheadWriting says:

      gregmischio Personally, I think this is the problem: shame comes from the self. I have no shame. I will ask anything. I own everything. And there is nothing in my 40 years of which I am ashamed. Could I have done things better? Always. Can I do them better in the future? Of course. But shame? I gave that shit up for Lent. That? That’s what healthy looks like — not carrying shit you don’t need with you throughout your life.
      And I assure you — I had no interest in anything this gentleman might have been ashamed of. My time is more valuable than ruminating over someone’s Ouldas — should, coulda, woulda.

  10. AliRandall
    AliRandall says:

    I think that’s an odd question, especially for a first date, but what bothers me is that he wanted to argue the point. Was he on the debate team in school (and is he ashamed of it)? 😉

  11. Shoegal1726
    Shoegal1726 says:

    It’s all part of the learning process of life. Why waste time being ashamed of things from from the past? Just keeps you stuck.  That is a stupid question! Cross him off the list for sure:))

  12. Merredith
    Merredith says:

    To me it’s more, love the sinner, hate the sin, to borrow –unashamedly — from some churchgoers who may or may not have had rights to it in the first place.  I love who I am, and I honor what it took me to get here — including facing some things of which I am not so proud — or ashamed, in another word.  But there’s a difference. Occasionally shame serves as a reminder that our wishes don’t always turn out right, that we aren’t the most important person in the conversation, that ends do not always justify our justifications.  So I heartily endorse the sentiment of loving oneself. But I’ma keep around a little shame, just to kick my own a** now and then.

  13. Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
    Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2 says:

    I love your stance of this fucker of a topic Erika. 
    We shouldn’t be ashamed of anything but not having the courage to BE love but the plain fact is, the majority of us are unnecessarily ashamed of a shit-ton of other stuff as well; the majority of it stupid stuff that has zero life-endangering consequence attached.
    For many years of my life, I was drowning in self-delusion. I’ve since learned to embrace my frailties and sought out practices that help be less and less of a douche canoe over the years. I still make mistakes and have to constantly remind myself that the name of the game is progress; not perfection but I’m thankful that I’m better than I used to be.  

    So for me, when I heard the topic of a speech titled, “How To Stubbornly Refuse To Be Ashamed of Anything” my ears perked up. This talk is given by an old cantankerous man by the name of Dr. Albert Ellis. I had never read or listened to anything of his prior to this but I instantly fell in love with him when I heard his renegade approach to addressing shame. The cherry on top was when this mightily accomplished man started dropping F bombs minutes within the presentation.
    In this talk he gives a diagnosis of shame and then gives an action plan for overcoming it. For anyone interested in a counter intuitive approach to rooting shame out of your life, feel free to check out his recommendations for doing so here . . .

  14. MichelleSimons
    MichelleSimons says:

    I love this.  I get so frustrated when people challenge my “I have no regrets and am not ashamed of anything” take on life.  Yes, I have made some less than brilliant choices; stupid tattoos, bad dating decisions, public humiliation, and the list goes on.  However, the key element in that sentence is CHOICE.  Everything I have done is my life was my choice, good or bad I own my shit and the consequences that come from every choice I have made or will make.  I am fiercely proud of my lack of shame as it has brought me relationships, careers, travel, laughter and tears, and a really fucking good life.  I think everyone could use a lot less shame and a shit ton of more personal ownership. Testify!

  15. sparksbrosmedia
    sparksbrosmedia says:

    Great post! If you have no shame then you can hold your head up high. You can’t love others until you love yourself at least not to your full potential.

  16. mlconnolly
    mlconnolly says:

    I love this!  I made my list – crossed them all off………am now setting out to change the last one! THANKS!!!!!

  17. avedagirl1
    avedagirl1 says:

    Well said, as always! Shame is like poison, it will lurk inside and block us from our true selves. Looking at “mistakes” as lessons to learn from and not repeat is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. As long as we can look at the challenges from yesterday and realize what life lesson we learned from them, we will not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it… (As was taught to me be a very wise friend 🙂 )

  18. LisaSparks
    LisaSparks says:

    Thanks for the encouragement! Learning this all too well right now as I grow my new business. Got an email from someone who knew me from my corporate days. After my last email he wrote to me, “Is this you? It doesn’t sound like you. Just wanted to make sure this email came from you.” What I’ve learned is that I shouldn’t change or stop what I’m doing after someone criticizes it. Thanks again, RedHead!

  19. Erroin
    Erroin says:

    If we never make mistakes, how can we ever learn and grow?  My list is long and I have learned from everyone of them.  Nothing to be ashamed about there.

  20. tomdrector
    tomdrector says:

    I am in complete and utter agreement, Erika.  the guy was an assI cant think of anything I’ve done that I am ashamed of.  (Go ahead and print anything about my life.  Its all good.  Even the part when I was fucking around on my first wife, cause it even that was justified and turned out so well…)  Thank you for reminding me that I DO have the courage to love myself, no matter what.

  21. Kim Doyal
    Kim Doyal says:

    People are SO interesting.
    Shame serves NO ONE. It’s taken me a while to get that (many Brene’ Brown videos, books and an awesome therapist). I could have saved myself years of angst if I just spun it by thinking of my kids. They will NEVER feel ashamed if I have anything to say about it.
    I would never say to my kids what I say to myself (or used to).  And the thought of them feeling shame? Breaks my heart. I don’t care what they do or who they do it with- I just want them to trust themselves.
    Thanks for sharing! It helps to know the dating pool is random regardless of where you live.  😉

  22. richardchaven
    richardchaven says:

    “Things I Was Ashamed Of. Or, for the grammar and usage hounds out there, Thing Of Which I Am Ashamed.”
    This is how one tells the real grammar wonks from the fussy-bits: ending with a preposition is illegal in Latin, not English. English grammar is neither Latin nor Germanic (it’s mostly Celtic, but that’s another story).
    So be ashamed of (or not, as the case might be).

  23. greenjelloland
    greenjelloland says:

    People always look at me strangely when I tell them I regret very little in my life. I did the best that I could at the time, with what I had. What more could I have asked of myself? Yes, I look back and wish there were a few crucial choices I had made a bit differently, but it is what it is. I have learned from those mistakes. Shame? Maybe a little slightly in the moment…. but if that happened, it was a wake-up call to me that I needed to rectify something to someone I had hurt because of my actions. Shame disappears when you try to make things right. That not only applies to how you treat others, but also how you treat yourself.

  24. Norwegian Blue
    Norwegian Blue says:

    When I decided to start dating, following the end of a long marriage, I had no real idea of how to start. One thing I did in the days before was to read online in-search-of ads.
    One woman’s included this
    “Some baggage is okay, as long as it fits beneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment.”
    What’s in baggage?  Not dirt — just stuff. Some of it is stuff you’re not ready to let go; some of it is stuff you’ll always keep.
    Guys looking for dirt will find it. Whether it’s there or not.

  25. thewholepackage1
    thewholepackage1 says:

    Hi Erika,  
    I hope it’s not too late to comment.  I’ve only just ‘discovered’ you today. 🙂 
    One thing that you said really resonates with me “the one wish I have for whatever life I get to live after this one (and yes, I believe in that), is that I start loving myself and start living my life a whole lot sooner than I did during this one.”
    Amen, darling! This is exactly WHY I do what I do now.  From where I stand, life is short and I’ve seen lots of people wasting or complicating theirs. When they wake up, if they do, they wonder where it all went.
    I decided to do something about it, in my own way.  I work with intelligent, capable ‘young professionals specialists’ in organizations – mostly left-brainers – to help them improve their social skills so that they’re more effective and take more charge of their own success and happiness.  I basically help them pimp their right-brain, get their shit together and learn how to express themselves. NOW, not when they’re over 40 and whining about it.
    It’s very rewarding but tough to sell.  As I said, I can see it from where I’m at, but most people are unaware of what they’re missing until something triggers the need to change.  Or something kicks them in the butt.
    When they finally do, there’s a world out there waiting for them.  You’re a trailblazer!  Glad I found you 🙂


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *