My sister who is two years older than me performed very well in school – but I performed better. So I learned to suppress myself in order to let her shine. My sister never asked me to do that, neither was it a conscious decision that I made. It was lurking inside me for forty years before I became conscious about it during a session with my therapist.
I am a lecturer and I used to fall in a deep, black hole after each lecture – no matter if the lecture was excellent or terrible. I did not understand why, it hurt, but I continued to lecture: I simply loved to tell stories.
During a personal development class, the teacher asked ”What do you do to yourself, that keeps you unhappy?“ Then it struck me – the black hole I fell into was shame. Shame for taking so much space by standing on stage. Space I thought belonged to someone, anyone – but not me. But that “someone” never wanted that space. It was me who had defined it as belonging to others and that pulled me down and robbed me of my joy to lecture. I had been pushing myself down my entire life!
Discovering the origin of my shame finally made it disappear, in the blink of an eye. I became free of shame! And it brought me peace. Since then I have never fallen into that black hole again. I can hold an excellent lecture or a terrible one and I am always confident with myself. The black hole healed. I still want to perform excellently, and I work hard for it. But it is very different to tell a story out of love of telling stories instead of out of fear of shame.
About the author
Kristina Paltén is an adventurer, ultralmarathonrunner, lecturer, writer and coach. She is the first woman to run alone through Iran, a distance of 1,840 kilometers. She has previously run the 3 262 kilometer distance from Turkey to Finland and then kayaked 493 kilometers home to Stockholm together with her friend Carina Borén. On the merit list is also the World Record when Kristina ran 322.93 kilometers in 48 hours on treadmill, the Swedish record in 6-days running of 721,79 kilometers, the sailing Fiji toNew Zealand and the climbing of mount Aconcagua, 6 962 meters high. You can watch Kristina’s talk at TEDxBerlin on how to dance with life here.