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Modern Renegades with Ashley Kelsch | The Shame Game

Ep #79

The Shame Game

Renegades, it has been a minute since my last episode. I decided to take a little breather while on vacation and reflect on my decision to end my 90-day celibacy challenge. And I definitely fell into some shame. Don’t you just despise shame?

It’s amazing isn’t it, that no matter how much work you do when you get into a relationship with someone, at some point, all of your shit is going to come to the surface. I wasn’t feeling shame about ending the challenge, but rather how I had treated the person I am dating.

Join me this week as I share my journey through Shamesville and why despite feeling all the emotions, it was worth going through. It is OK to be imperfect, and this week, I’m showing you how to have the courage to sit with your emotions and grow in a relationship, regardless of the outcome or other person.

What You Will Discover:

  • A wonderful technique I use to manage my brain.
  • How we overcome shame and tame the brain.
  • Some questions to ask yourself to take responsibility for your emotions.
  • Why being in a relationship is messy.
  • The importance of accepting and working through your emotions.

Resources Mentioned:

  • If you’re enjoying the tools and concepts I’m sharing each week about your brain on dating, you won’t want to miss out on working with me one-on-one. I’ve just launched my program, Wake Up Before Another Breakup, where in just 8 weeks, you won’t question if you can trust yourself to date or why you can’t find the one. Click here to learn more about it and how you can work with me.

Enjoy the Show?


It’s been a minute. Well, two weeks to be exact. I decided to take a breath while on vacation and reflect on my decision to end my 90 day challenge of celibacy. I’m not going to lie; I definitely fell into some shame. Not over ending the challenge. That part I can live with and say without a doubt, the amount of clarity it gave me and my reason for calling sit well with me.

What didn’t sit well was admitted that I have deep feelings for someone while also recognizing that this isn’t the first time I put a wall between us. On air.

The timing of my trip could not have been better either. I’ve had 10 days of space and being away to take a hard look at how I’ve been in relationship and will admit the first stop I made was into shame-ville.

I was somewhere in the middle of nowhere when Criminal by Fiona Apple came on. I was oh my god, is this me? I don’t want to hurt anyone… Play someone along because I’m still trying to figure out what it is I want combined with the relational systems I have set in place from childhood and trauma brining up all my shit. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Like, no matter how much work you do, when you go into relation with someone, all your shit is going to come to the surface. Commence the shit storm I entered into known as Shamesville.

I was suddenly all-consumed with thoughts about what his friends thought… what you all thought… and the most gut wrenching thought; I just said to the world I love someone and you know and he knows and what if he decides he’s done. Over hearing about himself on my podcast. Over listening to me process and living out my patterns. What if I did the thing where I fully surrender and he pulls away. It was endless. I was even questioning my career. How the fuck can I be a relationship and dating coach? I felt like an imposter.

This was all being stirred in me and I was struggling. I felt icky inside.

But you know what Renegades? As horrible as this story felt, it was worth the journey to go through. I realized that this was the best thing to happen to me, for me. It was as if everything that had been percolating erupted.

Susan Pivers who says in her book The Hard Questions “There is no technique, no gimmick, no class, no easy answers. The solution, the only solution is knowing and revealing yourself and receiving your partner -relentlessly and with great skill.”

You got to name it to tame it, Renegades.

I spent time with each thought, owned it rather than denying it and allowed for the emotion to be there. The fear. The guilt. The embarrassment. I processed it through. I journaled. I moved my body. Some of it moved on within minutes whereas other parts of it stayed for a few days. But I didn’t try and push it away. I carried it around with me. Thats how you overcome shame. Shame wants you to keep it like a secret so it can fester and eat away at you, but much like anxiety once you name it, describe it and allow for the emotions, you shift. Hence me recording this episode. I want to scream from the rooftops that I am imperfect at relationships and that’s okay. I’m not a monster. I want you to hear it from me as well.

Learning to love and be in relationships is messy and hard and difficult work. It’s not as simple you meet someone one day and then happily ever after. It’s so much more nuanced and emotional. It’s a slow reveal of emotional systems we have set in place. It’s your deepest wounds being exposed. It’s my stuff plus your stuff equals our stuff. It’s my reactions or responses to your words and behaviors.

It’s a constant state of awareness and checking in with yourself to see what you are thinking, feeling and doing. Collecting data. Seeing what you are learning. Being committed to curiosity and compassion at watching yourself in relation to relationship. And the other person.

The uncomfortable is supposed to appear when we are in relationships and dating. The question becomes, ‘what is my responsibility?’ It’s your work to take responsibility for your actions, reconcile with yourself and the people involved and then let it go. To ask the questions, what’s being brought up in me? Where do I find myself questioning, avoiding or obsessing and why? Answer these questions without blaming the other person.

Being in love and relationship starts with you. Dr Alexander Solomon says “the work of creating healthy relationships is through self-awareness, integrity and radiance in intimate relationships.
To work on how to love is the most worthy endeavor of life. This is more important than your relationship status.”

Easier said than done, am I right? Especially for those of who do the work. We think that we should have figured it out by now… these patterns and ways of being.

Spending time reflecting on the systems, stories and narratives you have around love and relationships will help you create awareness. Ask yourself what you learned from your parents about being in love. How did you family handle conflict? How did they show affection? What lessons did you learn from pop culture about dating and love? Your church? Your friends?

How has society influenced how you are in relationship? What were you taught about gender roles? Do you agree?

Is this in alignment with how you date? Do you believe what you were taught? Do you want to believe it? What do you want to believe about relationships?

If you watched yourself dating and being in relationship on a series, how would you describe your character? What does she believe? How does she feel and act? What does her love life look like?

Name the story. Write it out and feel as much as you can into it. There is so much you can learn about yourself; what you’re holding on to and why.

Lastly, choose what you want to believe about love and relationships.

Edit what you wrote to fit who you are and how you want it to be. Rewrite it. Claim for yourself how you want to be in relationship and own it.

I’ve been exploring 3 aspects of what I learned about love that I want to continue to recreate and 3 that I’d love to leave behind.

Often times my clients’ biggest frustration is when they catch themselves in the same thought loop or unintentional model that they identified as an unproductive, often times even painful.
They express disbelief over doing the same thing with a different circumstance and think they should have figured it out once they named it.

I remind them, and myself that awareness is the first step and it really isn’t much without the second step which is intentional thinking. Identifying how you want to be, think or feel and then practicing it every day.

This reminds me of a post that brain pickings put up on Instagram last week. It was a video of a ladybug circling a bowl. She went on to say; “there is something profoundly existential about this. We all repeat the same old loops, face the same old imaginary roadblocks, until we don’t.”

Changing the way we think is possible, but it requires daily attention and effort.

Asking questions like, When I love unconditionally what do I believe about myself, my relationship and my partner. What are the top 3 emotions I want to experience with my partner? What would I need believe to feel that way? What would I be doing if I felt that way?

Lastly, learning how and having the courage to sit with and be with the emotions that come up and get stirred is going what keeps you connected to you. That’s how you evolve and grow in relationship regardless of the outcome or the other person.

This is relational self-awareness, Renegades.

Until next week, tame that brain by naming that shame.

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