Shame…A Cousin of Humiliation

Today I was summoned to go to our local Worksource center to orient and learn tricks and tips for obtaining a job. I realized as I was getting ready this morning that this is the first time in 42 years I’ve been unemployed. It was a sobering thought.


As I drove to the center, I tried unsuccessfully to choke back my tears when the full force of the shame and humiliation hit me square in the gut. I’d been asked to be a presenter at that very center just two months earlier, a couple of days prior to leaving employment at the hospital. I used to teach people how to interview and create a resume and now I held my pride in my hand and walked through the doors prepared to listen to whatever pearls of wisdom they had to my current situation.


Since I love research, I looked up the definition of shame. According to the top google listing, it is: “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” The only part of the definition that I couldn’t quite make fit was engaging in wrong or foolish behavior. I hadn’t lost my job because I’d done something wrong or was foolish. I can be foolish in many avenues of my life, but in my professional life, I was never foolish. Unless a person counts giving an honest opinion when asked.  Nevertheless, shame is what I felt when I walked into Worksource today.


I often look for silver linings and this is what I’ve come up with…When I do obtain my next job in Human Resources, I will be a better, more compassionate person as a result of my experience. Prior to this past month and a half, I could not claim I had true empathy for those that are laid off or terminated. Now I do. I will be able to pause and think about the action that I am about to take that will have a dramatic impact on that person’s life and I’ll truly be able to relate to their emotions.


One of my favorite speakers and authors, Brene Brown, talks about the difference between sympathy and empathy.  I laughed when I saw the video where she distinguishes those who try to make others feel better with sympathy instead of crawling into that hole with them and experiencing the emotions first hand. I’ll never forget that empathy rarely begins with, “at least.”

Empathy Versus Sympathy Video Link


Here are the “at leasts” in my current situation from well-meaning people. At least you get to write. At least you have a supportive wife. At least you were close to retirement. At least you still have a roof over your head, money to buy food, etc. At least you get to work on your tan (I’m so jealous). I would give up my tan in a nanosecond for a new job…please let me return to pastiness. You get the picture.

at least

What helps is that people are trying to make me feel better, and I take those “at leasts” in the spirit they are intended and love the people for that. Sympathy has its place, but the few individuals who could relate and sent messages to that effect….the ones that I sensed possessed deep empathy, those are the ones I treasure.

At the time of writing this blog, I was contacted by a recruiter who mentioned they need an interim starting on Monday…I am crossing my fingers and hoping to lose that tan. This may slow down my works in progress, but there are still many to choose from. If you’d like to read my already published words…you know the drill…click the links below!

Affinity Author Page         Amazon Author Page

covers 4-1-17



5 thoughts on “Shame…A Cousin of Humiliation

  1. I don’t think I said at least but if I did I hope you know I was just trying to be supportive. I am still standing in your shoes but are rooting for you to find another job if that is what you truly want. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If the take away is learning the difference between sympathy and empathy then that can only be a good thing for you and how you will view your profession from now on. Perhaps they did you a favor in that you will become an even more effective HR person. Just sayin’


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