Is shame and vulnerability and making us sick?

The theory that shame, inauthenticity and a scarcity mindset significantly contributes to the onset and exacerbation of Hashimoto’s.

I’ve realised something lately… I tend to make other people uncomfortable.

Not on purpose of course, but it’s something I’ve always experienced but never really understood what it was or why it happened… and I believe it has a lot to do with shame, vulnerability and authenticity.

And I’m starting to think it’s a big part of why I got Hashimoto’s.

The shame of being different…
Over the years, mostly in the alpha-male-we-will-do-things-my-way-sweetheart workplaces that I worked in, I found myself being shamed* for having an opinion or daring to speak up especially when my opinion or suggestions were against the ‘norm’ or outside the box.

Creativity, ingenuity and open-mindedness are not really traits that are embraced or appreciated in the highly-regimented-its-always-been-done-this-way law enforcement environment that I spent 26 years in.

But the thing that I get now, that I didn’t then was that my perspective, my opinion and my vulnerability of being a little-bit-out-there-and-not-really-quite-fitting-in bristled, rankled and poked at the vulnerability in those (mostly alpha males) who shamed* me… and I let them do it, which made my shame* so much worse.

I’ve been immersing myself in understanding shame, vulnerability and authenticity through the wonderful and I think, quite delightful work of Dr Brené Brown.

And what I’m beginning to understand is that my way of being in the world, my way of seeing the world and my part in it is really different to others… not bad, not better, not perfect (far from it)… just different.

And duh! Sooooooo not really suited or made for the that unique culture that is the male dominated environment of law enforcement… lord knows how I survived it and why on earth I stayed so long.

Not because I couldn’t do the job… I was more than capable of doing the job.

In fact, there were many roles I excelled at with my unique analytical brain power, photographic memory and eerie ability to join the dots in situations where no dots existed (strengths I’ve only came to understand and embrace since I branched out on my own).

But because in order to survive, my highly introverted, quiet, perceptive and a perhaps a-little-too-sensitive-for-this-world etherealness had to be buried under layers and layers of protective armour… for decades.

Looking back, I could never quite relax and just be myself… I was always on the defensive and feeling like I had to justify not only my opinion, insight or perspective but sometimes my mere existence.

Was bloody exhausting…
And bloody hell that was exhausting!!

Not only was it exhausting, but after butting heads with one-too-many-illogical-bullying-type-alpha-males hell bent on taming me, I was then labelled ‘difficult’, ‘argumentative’ or ‘complex’.

Or as one not-so-eloquent-and-totally-trying-to-insult-me male supervisor put it: “you’re just a girl who’s a bit too smart and your expectations are too high — tone it down a bit and you’ll be just fine!”.

True story.

That really happened… and probably not coincidentally I quit policing soon after.

Anyway, the point is… for all those years being the square peg in a round hole, I knew on some deeper level that it wasn’t really me that was the problem, it was just the environment I was tyring-but-failing-quite-spectacularly to fit into.

And, though I did know, deep down in the part of me that I had buried under all my well-worn armour, that it wasn’t really me… I didn’t really know why.

I couldn’t quit figure out why I kept having the same ‘groundhog day’ conversations and/or encountering the same type of situations (long story short, I didn’t belong there).

Of course, my shame loved it and it managed to keep the shame alive long after the conversation had ended and the alpha-males had moved on…. reinforcing the shame cycle.

So why am I banging on about my old workplace, shame and vulnerability stuff recently?

And what’s it got to do with anything, particularly nutrition, wellness or Hashimoto’s?

And I think it contributed to my Hashimoto’s…
Well, quite a lot I think…

It’s a concept I’m still grappling with and I haven’t put all the pieces together yet… but I’m chewing over the theory (based heavily on the research and work of Dr Brown) that shame, inauthenticity and a scarcity mindset significantly contributes to the onset and exacerbation of Hashimoto’s (and most likely other autoimmune diseases).

When we feel like we’re not enough (regardless of what, where or who that stems from) we are often driven to prove that we are enough… both to ourselves and those around us.

And that all that striving to fit in and getting bent out of shape in the process literally makes us sick.

The sicker we become, the more we try to maintain that appearance of good health and being all things… to all people… all the time.

And when that sickness manifests in a dis-ease (not a typo people, we are literally ill-at-ease-with-ourselves) such as Hashimoto’s… well, it’s just an all-round shame-fest as we jump on the there-is-nothing-wrong-with-you-its-all-in-your-head merry go round.

And by the time we finally land, exhausted and bereft at the feet of the Doctor who finally diagnoses us… we don’t know who the hell we are anymore and we don’t know how to find our way out of our complex-exhausted-shame-filled-dis-eased lifestyle that has become our daily norm.

Anyhoo… it’s just a little theory I’m toying with.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage… Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Dr Brown

*Shame is this context is not “ashamed”… it is more the shame within myself for not being true to me, not being nor living as my authentic self and feeling like I had to hide who I was in order to try to be enough for the people and the world around me.

Originally published at on November 13, 2016.