I’ve been thinking a lot about shame. Shame is clever. It takes on many forms. Can you believe that it was only in 2016 that I understood what shame was and how it was ruling my life?
I remember it clearly. I was an assistant for a Solsara Immersion (these immersions completely re-wired my brain, mind, and nervous system) minding my own business. I was in service and felt really good about it. In retrospect, I used service to hide from my own shame. If I was being in service (translation: being a PLEASER) and taking care of other people, I didn’t have to focus on the excruciating pain I felt in my own life. This was a common theme for me. Help others, deny myself. I thought I was something special (arrogance is also a form of shame).
I was sitting in the morning circle on Saturday (the second day of the immersion) as we were processing the day before. My good friend was in the immersion and I was annoyed and angry with her. I felt exhausted. “Fuck You” was going through my mind. Everything felt intolerable. I desired reprieve, for someone to take care of me for once. I was wound up VERY tight. As we went around the circle to share, I had an impulse to speak. I couldn’t stop what was coming out of me. I broke down. I lost my shit and it was magical. I started crying hard in front of a group! The teachers suggested I look around the circle into everyone’s eyes and it was extremely hard to do. I cried harder each time I locked eyes with someone.
I felt immense shame. I didn’t have words for it. I said to the group “I’m a self-contained unit. I keep shit together. I don’t ever break apart. I don’t let anyone see me break apart. I cry in bathrooms, in my car, everywhere except in front of others. This is really hard for me. I don’t want you to see me cry or be a mess. I’m an assistant! I am supposed to be supporting you!”
The teachers then said one of the most important things I’ll ever learn and hear. They said “you are feeling shame.”
What? Shame? No. I don’t feel shame. I’ve never felt shame.
They continued. “Shame is anytime you are trying to change what is happening in the moment. It’s hiding. It’s not accepting what is“. That blew my fucking mind into pieces. I was a changed woman. I realized that I lived in stories in my head and that I kept myself distant from everyone by “keeping it together”. Here I was, sobbing, breaking apart, and the group witnessed me, held me, touched me, and accepted me as I am. They accepted me when I couldn’t. They allowed me to feel shame. Everything changed from that day on. I didn’t have to pretend I was ok anymore. I didn’t have to hide. I am forever grateful for my Solsara teachers and the group who witnessed and held me. (If you need witnessing, let’s talk!)
Shame makes you take self-destructive actions you would otherwise never take. It sometimes sounds logical. It’s a clever voice and sometimes takes what you love and turns it against you. It says “well you already feel shitty, keep going. It doesn’t matter now”
Shame makes you:
- eat when you don’t want to
- gamble or be irresponsible with money
- have sex when you don’t want to
- watch porn in a way that checks you out of your Self
- work your ass off and not even know why
- put yourself on a pedestal so you are above and distant from others
- depressed, angry, self-righteous
- take any action that separates you from your inner wise person
- take any action that separates you from others
- go into solution mode so you don’t feel discomfort
Anything you call an addiction, issue, or problem has an origin or cause in shame. Anytime you are uncomfortable with what is happening in the moment, shame is waiting to hook, line, and sinker. Never underestimate the power of shame.
Recently, shame arose and got to me momentarily. I’ve been training my mind for years and so I recognized it fairly quickly. It was so clever, though. I was noticing shame arising in someone close to me and I immediately went into solution/fix it mode. I can be very powerful when I go into solution mode. Yet, what my friend needed was compassion and witnessing. I wanted to fix his challenging situation because I COULD NOT HANDLE MY OWN FEELINGS ARISING WITHIN ME IN RELATION TO HIM. I was projecting my own feelings of discomfort and shame onto him. We were mirroring each other’s shame.
Please, this is very important. Because I was uncomfortable with my own feelings, I tried to fix my friend. In the past, anytime I was uncomfortable with my own feelings, I tried to fix myself. This led to dire consequences and trauma.
FIXING YOURSELF OR OTHERS WHEN YOU FEEL SHAME leads to the suppression of shame and shame wins. Shame successfully separates you from yourself and others. Everyone feels horrible. The constant stuffing of emotions INSTEAD OF FEELING THEM, causes them to arise in other ways that never feel good.
Shame, like fear, shrinks as you approach it. As you look at it. As you acknowledge it. As you feel it. Then you get to release it. You must allow it in order to release it. It seems counter to what we all have learned about feelings. I promise you, this is the only way toward intimacy, limitless joy, and unconditional love. You must approach what you fear the most. You must allow what’s hidden to come to your awareness. (wanna know how to release what is hidden, let’s talk!)
You must also let go of trying to fix, improve, or solve problems. You are not broken. No one is broken. There is nothing to fix. When a solution is needed, you’ll be guided toward a solution. It’s having that a-ha moment in the shower. You didn’t have to strive to receive it. (learn about the difference between fixing and being guided – it’s a process!)
I know that’s hard to believe. The only thing you have to do is REMEMBER who you are and FEEL. I always say, we are not broken, we’re buried. Buried under lies, under false conditioning, under fear, under shame, etc.
To remember who you are is to remember love. Maybe you don’t know what that means. I get it. I didn’t know for a long time either. You are not meant to learn alone. Being witnessed, as you are witnessing yourself is of utmost importance. We thrive in community.
I love you fiercely,