General Conference: To shame or not to shame? That is the question.

I had a belief (a thought that is repeated in our minds) that I was not good enough. This created a feeling of shame for me. Then, while listening to conference, I would look for evidence that I am not good enough and I would find it. While feeling this way, I would be more prone to choosing actions that are not in line with what I wanted or what I deemed “worthy.”

If you’re like me, maybe you’ve struggled with feelings of shame at conference time. You sit there listening to the talks and find all the things wrong with yourself.

You start making a mental list of things you are not good enough at.

And you feel shame. Or inadequacy. Or unworthy.

Here’s the thing. You find what you are looking for and it starts with your thoughts. Your brain actually takes your thought, or belief about yourself, and tries to prove it right. This is how the brain works. Ever heard of confirmation bias?

At times I haven’t even been able to handle watching conference. But then I’ve thought negatively about myself for not watching. Catch 22!

This time around was my first time in years not feeling terrible while watching general conference. Last October was a mixed bag for me, still some shame, some neutral feelings, maybe a few positive feelings.

Before that, years of shame-storms that seemed to come every October and April at conference time. At times I have blamed the church. If they just changed conference it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe the church just isn’t for me. I hate church and conference!

So what changed for me?

I started taking responsibility for my own feelings. And I learned some skills to help me do it.

Before

I had a belief (a thought that is repeated in our minds) that I was not good enough. This created a feeling of shame for me. Then, while listening to conference, I would look for evidence that I am not good enough and I would find it. While feeling this way, I would be more prone to choosing actions that are not in line with what I wanted or what I deemed “worthy.”

After

I have really worked at this. I choose to belief that I am a worthy human regardless of what I do or don’t do. This is different than being temple worthy. I used to make “temple worthy” mean the same thing as my worth as a human. But temple “worthiness” has nothing to do with our worthiness as human beings. Temple worthiness is just guidelines for entering the temple.

What if you are enough regardless of your actions and you cannot change or earn your worth. What if you cannot increase your worth or decrease it no matter what you do. It is innate. It is non-negotiable. Now that is truth!

But regardless of what is true or not, our brains will try to prove right whatever it is we choose to believe about ourselves, or about anything for that matter. So what is a useful belief? What gets you the results you want? What gives you the feelings you want?

When I go in to conference believing in my own unchangeable tremendous worth. I feel worthiness. I feel self-compassion. I feel self-acceptance. I look for evidence in conference that I am enough. These feelings drive actions that I might think are “worthy.” It drives more of the actions that I am wanting from myself.

Actions Can’t Make You Feel Worthy

If you try to feel worthy through your actions, it will not work. Because thoughts create feelings, not actions.

If you left the church you would still be left with the same feelings of unworthiness and shame because it comes from your own thinking.

You could go to the temple 3 times a month, church every week, minister every month, read your scriptures every day, pray 5 times a day, pay tithing, watch all 6 sessions of conference 4 times, visit 6 widows a day, give priesthood blessings to homeless people on weekends, feed and clothe an entire village of poor people in Africa, and still feel shame and unworthiness. Because feelings do not come from actions. But feelings typically drive our actions so it’s important to get intentional about it.

You Are in the Driver’s Seat

If you feel shame or unworthy during conference and want that to change, don’t ask the church to change. Look at your own thinking and change it. You will find what you are looking for. It is within your power right now.

To find out more about coaching with me click here.

3 thoughts on “General Conference: To shame or not to shame? That is the question.

  1. The power is within us right now! I’m so inspired by this – Thank You, Danny!!!

  2. “You could go to the temple 3 times a month, church every week, minister every month, read your scriptures every day, pray 5 times a day, pay tithing, watch all 6 sessions of conference 4 times, visit 6 widows a day, give priesthood blessings to homeless people on weekends, feed and clothe an entire village of poor people in Africa, and still feel shame and unworthiness.”

    Truth. In fact I felt this way in priesthood session Saturday where I felt I was a bad husband because I watch sports…

    What is it that you think drives this? I’ve given a positive thought approach before, but then I just come back to thinking I am only trying to convince myself I am worth more than I am.

    1. Really good question. So first you need to really explore what thought you are thinking currently to create your feeling.

      1. Priesthood session cannot “make” you feel a certain way. It is something you are thinking that makes you feel that way. What are you making priesthood session mean about you?
      2. You already identified a thought. You said you “felt I was a bad husband.” That is actually your thought. “I’m a bad husband because I watch sports.”
      3. What feeling does this thought create for you? Could be shame, inadequacy, unworthy. This can be uncomfortable because you have to kind of go toward the crappy feeling but it’s really important to identify it, feel it. Even if you don’t give it a name, where do you feel it in your body? What does it feel like? When you stop resisting negative emotion you can actually metabolize/process it.
      4. Feelings drive actions. How do you act specifically when you feel this negative emotion. How do you act toward priesthood session specifically (or whatever it was that “triggered” your thought)? Maybe you want to tune out of priesthood session even if you are there? Stop listening? Maybe you even check sports on your phone? How do you act as a husband when you have this negative feeling from thinking you are a bad husband?
      5. What is the result of your actions? Your brain wants to prove itself right. A lot of times, with this kind of thought, the client would usually have some actions connected to this that they think make them a bad husband. Can be hard to look at this and own it, but really important. Your result will be evidence of your underlying thought. Your result could simply be that you are looking for all the reasons you are a bad husband. Because by choosing this thought you have basically told your brain to help prove you are a bad husband.

      Going through this process is really important before deciding what you want to think. And try to really own up to the fact that it is a thought you are choosing, not priesthood session, that is creating this for you. We don’t always want to do this but this is how you take your power back. Do not beat yourself up here. Fascination and curiosity. You have this thought for some really good reason. Maybe even to motivate yourself to be a better husband. But the results might be different than that.

      Last, what would you prefer to believe? What would be more useful for you as a husband? But it has to be believable. You have to try on new thoughts like trying on clothes. If it is not believable than it will make you feel worse. Rather than going for “I’m a great husband.” Try something neutral. “I’m a human husband.” Or “I am a husband.” Neutral feels better than what you were feeling. And neutral feelings won’t drive the same actions. And you won’t have your brain looking for evidence that you are a bad husband. And you just might like better how you show up as a husband feeling this way compared to how you were feeling before. After practicing a new believable thought for a while, you can step your way toward other more useful thoughts that seemed to far-fetched before.

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