I, personally, don’t know anyone who doesn’t suffer through some form of shame – the shame of speaking up, taking on less, taking time for yourself, being sexual, making mistakes, saying no – and the list goes on.
How do you know when shame is rearing its ugly head in your direction?
You know, first, by the judgment you have either toward yourself or someone else, and second, by the feeling that follows.
The voice inside begins to raise a brow and offers a “tsk, tsk” at what you or someone else did or didn’t do. If it’s against yourself, you feel less than inside. If it’s directed toward someone else, you feel better than and self-righteous.
Either way, the shame points toward a part of youself that hasn’t been accepted, embraced, loved, and integrated. Instead, this part was told it was bad, wrong, and certainly, not loveable. So down it went.
For a little while.
At some point on our journey to self-acceptance and wholeness, we will face this part again. The boss will scold us for making a mistake, our spouse will make an “irresponsible” choice, or we will gawk, appalled, at the woman wearing the mini-skirt and heels we secretly wish we had the courage to wear.
If we continue to blame others or ourselves for certain “wrongdoings”, the shame relives itself in our bodies and the cycle continues. We will end up spending all our time and energy angry at others, or “fixing” ourselves just so we can push back the feeling of shame.
But if instead, you were to share the shame with a safe person, cry for the part that was told she was bad or wrong, and offer compassion to the girl of the past who only wanted to know she was still good inside, we break the cycle of shame.
Every emotion needs a witness in order to heal.
Shame is no exception.
Though, we give our attention not to the shame, but to the part that has been pushed away by shame.
If you want to break the pattern of shame, do these 3 things:
Recognize when shame creeps in (remember judgments and feelings?)
Share the shame with a safe person who can listen without judgment
Receive compassion, love, and acceptance from another and from yourself