I Feel Shame Over an Incident That Happened While Flying

different emotions


Something happened on my ski trip over winter break that I feel deeply called to share.

I’m also very nervous to share because…well…I’m embarrassed and worried you might judge me.

But because my core values are REALNESS, TRUTH, and TEACHING others….here goes. 😬😬

Do you ever have those times when, in the heat of the moment, your subconscious calls you to fight when it would completely resolve the issue if you chose flight instead?

That’s how I felt during the whole boarding process on our way home from Denver.

If you have flown Southwest, you know that seating is always on a first-come-first-serve basis. There is no saving seats for others who haven’t boarded yet. And that, my friends, is one of my biggest traveling pet peeves.

Long story short, we prepped my mom to take the first available seat she saw because of her bad knees. As I was helping my mom with the whole seating process, I saw that the first available seat was a lady sitting in the middle seat and then a ticket on the aisle seat next to her.

(When you fly as much as I do, you see all the tricks people use to avoid having someone sit next to them on the plane. It’s become a huge problem, especially with Southwest Airlines.)

As my mom tried to sit down, the lady got snippy and said, “I’m saving that seat.”

Knowing you can’t “save a seat” for someone boarding later, I became defensive. I said, “You can’t save seats for other people.”

This became a lukewarm exchange because the lady refused to let my mom sit there. I was in protective mode of my mom and also pissed off mode that the lady refused to follow the rules.

My mom had to grab her bag from the overhead luggage and continue making her way down the plane, looking for a seat.

It wasn’t until later when I was being oddly ridiculed (I think) at baggage claim, that I realized I wasn’t the only one triggered by the run-in about saving seats.

That’s when it all hit me: the woman who was saving the seat was saving it as an extra seat for herself. I didn’t realize when I was bickering with her that she was someone who could have used an extra seat.

It was at that moment that I realized that I owed her an apology, but I chose not to do that because I was still in fight mode.

She wanted the convenience of an extra seat, and who knows, maybe she paid for it, or Southwest gave it to her. It doesn’t matter because I should have given her grace, even if she saved the seat for herself.

And once that fight mode wore off, that’s when the shame came tumbling in because…

I had unintentionally created more shame for the woman, who was probably already embarrassed because I got so worked up over her saving a seat.

I sat in that shame for weeks after, and if I don’t stay on top of my thoughts, I fall back into that shame even still.

Quotation by Brene Brown.

My whole point in sharing this with you is this: I have been on a growth journey for a long, long time. I’ve done so much work on myself and still make mistakes. I still have to remind my brain of the truth vs. the feelings… because I’m human.

We get so wrapped up in the destination we are heading toward and often forget that human piece. We will never NOT be human in this lifetime, so we will never outgrow our natural ability to make mistakes.

It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay that sometimes we hurt others unintentionally. It’s okay to feel the shame of it. But it’s not okay to stay there.

That woman and I were in the same place at the same time, having the same conversation, and we each experienced it 100% differently.

It’s a great reminder when we ridicule or judge another, we don’t always know the whole story.

That our perspectives are all different, and they shape our reality. I’m still learning.

As Brene’s quote reminds us, there’s a big difference between guilt and shame, and shame never serves us when we stay there.

Here’s to always learning and growing,

Kim Strobel cursive




Kim Strobel | Speaker, Author, Educator, & Happiness Coach
Phone: 812-719-4998
Featured in: USA Today


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