Shame and guilt are two feelings that not only limit one’s sense of personal power – they can also subtly cause things like procrastination and fear of “getting out there” in our business.
Shame is a feeling connected to your sense of identity, who you think you are, whereas guilt is not feeling good about your behavior or actions, something you did. The key word to note is “think.” As Shakespeare said, “nothing is good or bad except thinking makes it so” and there is much truth to this. Our sense of identity is formed within our brain, forming what neuroscientists call, “autobiographical memory” or the story of who you think you are.

Our sense of self formed by our brain, the ego, is typically constantly comparing and judging and if you are not aware of how it functions or how to direct your attention with awareness, it is very likely that you will develop a sense of “autobiographical memory” that does not serve you very well. Old self-image forms our sense of confidence and personal power. Through this ego self, you create your perception and assign the meaning to the events in your life and when your do this you also attached feelings based on this meaning.

The scary part is, much of what forms our fundamental sense of self formed before age 7, when we did not use much logic, was very prone to feeling fear and still believed in Santa Claus or the boogeyman. So can you see how easy it would be for a child to create stories that there is “something wrong with her or him” if teachers and adults are carelessly making insensitive remarks about their behavior, like “shame on you?” Most people think that what they do is the same as “who they are”, which actually is NOT the case, strictly speaking.

Equating our sense of self with title, bank accounts, and educational degrees is a great way to lose personal power, as you are really depending on external props. Once we form perceptual memories or stories, they become “stuck in time” in the cellular memory of our body. So, even at age 40, it you formed a limited identity at age 5, there are likely to be elements that to this very day are still impacting how you see yourself relative to life.

Many of these shame stories are not even logical at all, however, since most people have unwittingly conditioned themselves to fear their “negative” feelings, if they are triggered, most people will avoid them at all costs – Costs such as workaholism, alcoholism, comfort food eating, or even creating drama and dysfunctional relationships. It can impact all areas of life. The answer? The first step is to make up your mind to have the courage to learn new information and approach your life with an open mind. Sure, it will be scary, yet, once you make up your mind and decide to change, the universe can start to support you and work on your behalf.

Our fear of shame and other feelings are really just based on perception, what we judged as bad. If we did something that did not make us feel good at a time in the past we can now shift, yet it will be easier if you first learn how to “make friends with feelings” by changing “how” you think about them by learning tools to remove the old feelings before beginning to install a new way of thinking and feeling. Simply trying to affirm your way happy does not work very well, haven’t you noticed?

If you have noticed that you are struggling to balance work with play, are constantly feeling overwhelmed or that you lack confidence to make the networking relationship connections so vital to successful business relationships, instead of going to another “how to” skill set seminar, you may want to consider learning how to “retrain your brain” and make friends with your feelings to change those old misperceptions or stories that limit your true personal power and that that keep holding you back.

Author's Bio: 

Valencia Ray, M.D. teaches business owners and corporate leaders how their amazing brain can actually hijack personal power -- not in the abstract, but in the context of integrating business and personal life. Dr. Ray, a board-certified eye surgeon and medical business owner for over 20 years before selling her practice, shares her own life changing process. By sharing her story, she helps others to expand their vision and learn that by living with purpose and confidence, it is possible to have a more integrated, healthier lifestyle – with less struggle, more inner peace and more abundance.

For more information and to contact her regarding dynamic, inspirational keynotes, trainings in collaborative leadership and team building, entrepreneurship and coaching programs, visit her website,