How did it feel when you were last ashamed? I get a big red face and start sweating like a pleb. I feel constricted, small and powerless, like a tortoise shrinking into its shell. This is the opposite of what we are – grand, expansive, powerful beings!
Let’s just be clear that shame is not the same as guilt. The line between them is thin, but guilt is healthy. It’s a recognition that you did something wrong, there may be remorse and a willingness to apologise and put it right if you can. Shame is not about you DOING something wrong, it’s about you BEING wrong. It’s about your personal character, diminishment of your self-worth. That’s why it cuts so deep! When did shame last help you to be or do better? It usually doesn’t because it puts you in a place of powerlessness.
Here’s some examples of things I see people (me included) being ashamed about:
• Our looks and ‘attractiveness’, skin colour, hair colour, body shape and size – if they not what society deems as ‘good enough’.
• Choice of religion – or no religion
• Financial and material state – you can never have enough
• Intelligence – you don’t have a degree?!
• Sexual orientation and gender – yeah because we choose this stuff?!
• Emotions, hurt, tears – where did we learn that these emotions are ‘weak’?
• General interests, life choices – maybe they are not ‘mainstream’
• Maybe you did do something wrong (everyone makes mistakes) – but instead of just feeling guilty you took it to mean that something is wrong with you.
Look at how many things we can be ashamed about, things that are a very natural part of life and are not even ‘wrong’. At this rate we’ll all be walking round like tortoises shrinking back into our shells just because we are human. In fact, I think many of us already are.
But shame doesn’t need to be such a big thing in our lives and it certainly doesn’t need to sap our power and stop us living our best lives in joy. I don’t know where we learned to feel shame, but the recognition alone that it is a learned and irrational response is a big step towards not letting it affect you so much. As well as recognising this, don’t fight the feeling. I know it’s yukky and we want to escape it – but let it be expressed. Any emotion is simply energy in the body. It can’t kill you and it just wants to pass through and be experienced. By shining the light of awareness on it, it starts to dissipate. You will regain your power.
To learn more about shame from a qualified Professor who has studied it for a long time, please do check out Brené Brown on YouTube or read her books. This woman is amazing, a blessing to this earth.
Until next time, shine bright. ☺❤