Shame Nation (book review)

After reading Curt Thompson’s The Soul of Shame, I determined to find other books on the topic of shame. I found several and chose to read Shame Nation by Sue Scheff next. What I thought I was going to learn and what I ended up learning were not the same, to my advantage.

The title implied one thing in my mind. By the time I got into chapter two, I realized Scheff’s focus was on the epidemic of online hate. Through the first five chapters of section one “The Rise of Shame Nation,” Scheff gives great detail to exemplify exactly what’s at stake when it comes to digital shame. Some of it I knew, but I quickly learned I didn’t know enough. That section alone is worth the read. In the following three chapters of section two “Preventing and Surviving an Onslaught,” Scheff gives all of us much needed wisdom that could curb disasters and literally saves lives.

Your online behavior should be the best reflection of who you are off-line, but so many of us don’t live up to that ideal.

Chapter 3, I Can’t Believe They Posted That!

But what I found most helpful was the final section, “Beyond the Shaming.” Scheff gives several illustrations of people who’ve taken their online shaming experience and turned in into purpose, action, and healing for themselves, their community, and beyond. An amazing resource listing at the end of the book contains 40 examples, the majority I had never heard of. The ones that stood out to me include…

The results of online shame and hate hit home in April in our area when a 12-year-old died by suicide due to cyberbullying. After leading a response to a request to equip parents against bullying of their students, I’m convinced we cannot talk about this epidemic enough. Scheff has given parents, educators, counselors, and community leaders more than enough knowledge to respond to and change their community from one of shame and hate to one of kindness and compassion. I encourage you to add this book to your library.

More Compassion, Less Outrage

I learned this morning that I have a temptation. Devotion #18 in Skye Jethani’s book revealed it.


I relate to Jethani. I don’t share sufficient outrage for some people. Does that mean I don’t get outraged? No. Actually, here’s my temptation-getting outraged at other’s outrage. That’s just as unacceptable. And can be equally exhausting.

When I imagine how Jesus would respond these days, I’m guessing it would be the same as how we read in the Gospels. Did he get outraged? Yes. But he didn’t live outraged. His moments of exhaustion resulted from living from compassion, not anger. Had he lived any other way, he would have never made it to the cross. I’m thankful he never gave in to any temptation, particularly this one.

What’s exhausting us? I pray it’s more compassion than outrage.

Looking for Gold

I heard this quote today during a webinar:

“Men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold; but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt—one goes in looking for the gold.” -Andrew Carnegie

My mind immediately tried to connect this thought to scriptures like Job 23, Psalm 66, and Zechariah 13. But the context isn’t the same. These writers were referring to the outcomes of testing by fire. The imagery of mining for gold brings out a different challenge, even opportunity.

The webinar focused on a style of coaching labeled compassionate. Bottom-line premise: approach coaching as both you and the coachee looking for gold. Expect dirt moving to be necessary, but be more focused on the gold to be found.

Brene Brown would call this generosity. Regardless of whether we call it generous or compassionate, what might happen if we all approached our relationships and conversations, including self-talk, with such focus? It could impact…

  • …how we give employees annual reviews.
  • …how we discipline our children.
  • …how we chat with our neighbors.
  • …how we engage gossip.
  • …how we receive, “I’m sorry.”
  • …how long we coddle anger.
  • …how we analyze guilt.
  • …how we pursue dreams.
  • …how we set goals.
  • …and most impactfully, how we surrender to God’s testing.

Here’s to better and deeper gold looking!

Self-Compassion

Finished my first Brene Brown book this weekend. 

Walking away with so much. I’ll share my two favorite things in a few posts. Here’s the first one:

Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to someone you love.

This quote came from a section entitled How To Practice Self-Compassion. She shares this definition of self-compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff of the University of Texas at Austin: “being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.” Brown translated that definition to her simple mandate.

I’m guilty. Chances are the vast majority of us are. Sharing high criticism like, “John, that was stupid,” or, “You are such an idiot.” I’ve even said recently, before I read this section, that that is how God talks to me because he speaks my language. So, I’m going to go ahead and call myself out. “John, that’s a lie. When you come to him with honest repentance, God doesn’t respond like that. Stop putting God in your shoes. Try stepping into his shoes filled with love for you.”

If you share my tendency, I issue you this 7-day challenge: 

For the next week, listen to your self-talk. When you catch yourself saying something that doesn’t sound like God would say to you, hit the pause button. Restate the sentence how you believe he’d say it. And, just in case you can’t figure it out, ask him. This could be a classic “you have not because you ask not.” Go ahead. Call yourself out for some self-compassion.