I learnt shame from an early age from a variety of sources. Just one example was when I was really small and I found it difficult to realise that I felt jealousy which seemed to me to be a negative emotion. When I told this to someone I trusted and respected who was a God in my life (and only wanted the absolute best for me and my freedom from 'negativity'), they told me "Oh, I hate jealous people." I was mortified and so I learnt to bury difficult emotions and to try to be more perfect. I felt flawed and ashamed.
I have spent alot of life burying things deep and then seeing them fester and arise up way bigger later on. It just isn't the way. That is not to say that sharing everything with everyone is the way either...but I have found something that works...
As Brené Brown says, the antidote to shame is empathy. By looking at what I am ashamed of in myself and letting it surface, be witnessed and giving it a name and then having empathy in understanding the reason for this arising in me in the first place I then de-armour it's effects and I can then accept these parts of myself that I was ashamed of, and release them, for my freedom.
My shame tells me I am wrong, not enough, not perfect. It often reminds me of my past mistakes, the times in my life that I have not been seen, chosen, accepted, understood or validated. When I try to expand it asks me 'who do you think you are?'. It is deeply ingrained in old stories and limiting beliefs that go round and round. Until you dance with them and move them and see them for what they are and work them so hard that they lose all their power.
For example, with the jealousy.... if I see that I am jealous - instead of judging it I own it and name it and I look at why I felt jealous which could be because part of me thinks I am not enough and then I have compassion for myself for not feeling enough and then go to work on that rather than judging myself for feeling jealous.
Emotions are wise and just want to be honoured and then they can move on once their function has been fulfilled and their message has been heard by us. When I sit with feelings like jealousy, acknowledge them and sometimes move them with tools like EFT, dance and body work (and not rush or paste over them) they dissipate in power.
Emotions bring a wise message but sometimes what can be at play is fear and resistance keeping us small. I have lived with old stories like 'I am not enough' or 'I am going to fail again' and sat with the reality of it, using more tools around it, until eventually it becomes like "Oh hi, you again - are you really here to tell me the same old shit? I'm actually quite bored and so over you now - I see you for what you are. Thank you so much for your concern though. But it's OK - I am not in a life or death situation - I've got this."
Often I have needed external acceptance to facilitate my inner acceptance, so that I can release the grip of my shame.
Sharing my past experiences or inner shame and having acceptance for it reflected back at me has helped me to eliminate alot of shame - my feeling of 'wrongness' about myself. On my healing journey this sharing has needed to initially be contained and private, with professionals, whilst it has been very raw.
Right now I am sharing my journey more publicly, which is a whole other ball game. In truth, I don't altogether enjoy posting these raw, vulnerable sharings. I often hover quite a while before pressing post and then when I do I often regret it and want to delete them as soon as they are live (I've done that once) but I have otherwise held my ground in spite of all my fear and work through the feelings instead because my soul won't let me rest if I don't post them - I have tried. I'm trapped between my shame and my soul. After much deliberation and backwards and forwards, I again and again choose to go with my soul. The only thing I now choose to be accountable to.
These feelings that move through and urge me to take down my posts are varied. I feel fear that I won't be accepted. I have worried that I am not 'healed enough' to be sharing it yet. I have felt scared that what I am sharing might somehow be 'wrong' even though it is my heartfelt truth. Sometimes I have felt like I have been too vulnerable. I frequently wonder what the hell I am doing. But each thing I share, which I have always checked in has been coming from the right place, brings me closer to myself and in sharing it, in spite of the fears, I make a declaration that I accept it and am owning it, no matter what.
I am sending a strong message to my subconscious that I am valid, adequate, suitable and enough - irrelevant of the number (or lack) of likes, comments or messages of support. I am bringing my truth to light, sharing it come what may and in doing this I stand up for myself, accept myself, hold myself in empathy through the fear of it all and do not let anyone else tell me whether or not it is acceptable (whilst at the same time deeply appreciating the support).
Today I throw shame into the bonfire. And watch it burn... what are you throwing in?
"Shame is an epidemic in our culture. And to get out from underneath it, to find our way back to each other we have to understand how it affects us, and how it affects the way we are parenting, the way we are working, the way we are looking at each other... If we are to find our way back to each other we have to understand and know empathy because empathy is the antidote to shame. If you put shame in a petri dish it needs three things to grow exponentially - secrecy, silence and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy it can't survive. The two most powerful words when we're in struggle - 'me too'... If we are going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path." Brené Brown: Listening to Shame (TED).
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