Using Courage Without Shame

At the time I’m writing this it is June 2020. We are just coming out of some very tragic race-related events in our country.

What I want to teach you as a life coach is how to use your mind beyond what you think is capable right now.

What I’ve personally experienced recently is a shift in my beliefs beyond what I’ve thought possible. This post is about learning and growing.

The examples I’m using are race-related, as they should be right now.

But if you’re reading this at some time in the future, you can apply it to anything.

This post is about learning and growing, particularly with respect to what you can’t even see yourself, with your unconscious mind.

If you want to listen instead of read, here’s the podcast episode that goes along with this post — Courage Without Shame.

Conditioning: Why I Care About My Looks

As part of growing up how you did, you’ve been conditioned to think and be a certain way.

I think about this with myself and how I want to look “pretty” (generally speaking; I don’t, of course, go around saying, “I hope I look pretty”). This isn’t necessarily bad. But it is necessary to know that this is what’s happening.

I care a lot more about my looks as a straight, female growing up in a middle class white family, then say my best guy friend who barely thinks about what he’s going to wear. Not everyone is this way, of course. But this is my experience, and what’s I’ve realized is that it comes from how women are socialized in our western society.

It’s good (and important) to know that this comes from how I’ve been socialized. That’s the key.

It’s having the awareness of why I care about my looks that’s important.

From there, I can decide how I want to show up in the world (personally) and whether I want to try to change that in society (by how I vote, join causes, volunteer, etc.). Without this knowing, I might say, “women are just like that by nature; we care more about our looks.” When, “by nature” really is the result of hundreds of years of conditioning women in this way.

The same is true about other aspects of our upbringings. One example is race.

As a middle class white woman, I have white privilege. I also have racist thoughts that I’ve been conditioned to think on a subconscious level that I don’t even realize or know that I believe (and also, I might add, that I don’t want to believe).

We all have been conditioned to have beliefs that we don’t actually (consciously) want to believe.

Put differently: My whiteness has afforded me the opportunity to learn about racism instead of experience it.

I think racism is horrible. I know black lives matter. But subconsciously, I’ve been conditioned to reinforce institutional racism, that I’m not even aware of. I’m so new to this work that I thought long and hard about how I could bring this to you and be helpful.

What I came up with was this: I’m a student here. I’m a sage as a lawyer, CFP, and life coach. I’m a sherpa as a financial expert and entrepreneur. I’m a student of anti-racism.

I decided I’m willing to do it all completely wrong, so that I can grow and change for the good, and this is going to take something from me: Courage Without Shame.

And that’s what I want to suggest you use anytime you’re given the opportunity to examine your own thoughts, knowing you could be completely wrong.


Using Courage To Live Intentionally And Grow

Any time you’re embarking on something totally different and new, you risk comfort.
It requires vulnerability.
It requires potentially (and probably definitely being wrong).
It requires courage.

Courage is the strength to do something in the face of emotional pain.

Courage is bravery at the risk of experiencing exclusion, unpopularity, embarrassment, fear, disappointment, or loss.

Courage means making a decision or taking action where a risk is involved—something actual or imagined to fear. Courage is necessary for growth.

Types Of Courage:

  • Physical courage (fight against someone)
  • Moral courage (turn someone in)
  • Intellectual courage (go for a new certification)
  • Social courage (say the joke someone just told is offensive)

Characteristics Of Courage:

  • Courage is an emotion that does not feel good.
  • Courage is strength. And you are strong. You can do hard things. 
  • Courage takes this intentionality. Without the intention, you won’t do it because it requires experiencing emotional pain. 
  • It’s not just the imagined pain; it’s real emotional pain. You might actually not be accepted anymore, you could feel embarrassed, you might fail, and it will definitely be imperfect. 

Here’s an example of using courage to be anti-racist: if you learn about a police incident that you think is wrong, it will take a lot of courage to do something about it, especially if you’re a new student of anti-racism. You’ll feel very uncomfortable asking questions, having discussions, signing petitions, emailing your government, etc. You will have so much resistance, feel fear, and may even be anxious. This discomfort is required for you to follow through with living a life you want: one free from police brutality, in this example.


Avoiding The Shame Cycle

If you’re with me up to this point, you’re on board with using strength to do hard things. 

You’re also willing to feel your feelings. 

HOWEVER, what I find is that this all sounds good until we put it into action. What happens when we do it is that we end up hating ourselves in the process. 

For example, let’s say you decide to talk with one of your black friends about race, and you end up saying something that is racist (maybe it’s a thought you weren’t aware you had). In this case, you end up beating yourself up, being disgusted with yourself, and thinking you’re morally wrong. 

This is the opposite of what I want you to do. 

I want you to have courage to have the tough conversations and get outside your comfort zone without beating yourself up.

Your thoughts don’t make you moral or immoral. 

Your thoughts are not moral or immoral in and of themselves. 

You are 100% worthy. 

You have thoughts that were programmed into your mind from generations of thinking a certain way and the way you’ve been socialized. 

This has nothing to do with YOU. 

When you make it about you as a person, then you’ll avoid doing the hard work that it takes to make change in your own life and in society.  

Shame is thinking “I am wrong.” 

Shame is not useful. 

Shame is always a choice. 

Shame is an emotion that you create by your thinking. No one else can shame you but you.

You can examine your thoughts and even discover racist thoughts (after all, we all have been socialized to have those thoughts) without thinking that YOU as a person are wrong. 

The problem with shame is it causes you to lose awareness.

  • Shame causes you to avoid the very work you need to do. 
  • If you think you’re “bad” you won’t look at what’s going on; you’ll live in ignorance instead. 
  • You cannot create change in yourself or in the world if you’re feeling shame.

We’re just not taught to do this.

We think we are “bad” if we have a racist thought. So we avoid looking at the thought to avoid thinking we’re bad, which only perpetuates the problem because we avoid looking at it.

What I want you to do is have the courage to look at your thoughts, have tough conversations, learn, and grow without shaming yourself

You don’t have to shame yourself ever. 

You don’t have to beat yourself up. 

It’s not useful. It doesn’t help anything. 

You don’t even have to feel bad. You can feel empowered. You can feel motivated. You can feel determined.


A Final Note!

You are 100% worthy. You’re not damaged. You’re not “bad” or “good.” We’re all human beings.

We also all have been socialized to think and act a certain way based on gender, culture, race, and other things.

As a human interested in intentional living, the magic happens when you can love yourself and use courage to grow without shaming yourself.

You can be a light in the world. You can be a light in your own life. You can do hard things.

At the time I’m writing this, it’s June 2020. We’re coming out of some very tragic race-related events in our country. In an effort to educate myself more, I’m including the resources below that have been the most helpful to me.



  • 13th
  • Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap
  • Teach Us All
  • When They See Us

Podcast Episodes

Next Up, watch the YouTube video…