I’ve been working alot with shame recently and studying/ reading around various approaches to shame. It seems to be a most potent and toxic force that holds us hostage to outdated definitions of ourselves.
When we are shamed we are deeply wounded, so deeply in fact that we internalise the experience as meaning there is something wrong with us . We have not just made a mistake …we are that mistake!!
Then we spend the rest of our lives trying to hide this deadly defect hoping that no one will ever find us out.
Yet shame still lies deep within us, in the darkness and it takes a huge amount of energy to hide it protect it or try to prove it wrong.
Some of us may run about over achieving, striving to be perfect, working all hours , self sacrificing and over giving in order to try and not feel our pervasive sense of failure.
We may pretend to be strong. Superwoman/Man to avoid any feelings of weakness , vulnerability or overwhelm.
Others retreat from the world and collapse into depression and self doubt in order to not feel rage or guilt or despair. Feelings fueled by a subtle knowing we will never be good enough. We will never be loveable. We are just wrong!
But of course this is just untrue…………….
So how do we reverse this situation ? Well the first thing is to bring shame out of the shadows into the light. To admit to the self and perhaps one safe, unconditional person the most toe curling events of our lives. The experiences we would wish to hide for ever. Those times we have wanted the ground to swallow us. Additionally then to admit the times we have done things to others that we are ashamed of. The times we have gone against our own values and stunned ourselves with our own greed, weakness, selfishness…..add you own tag.
The thing is , we are all human, we have ALL made hideous mistakes, through fear, anger, jealousy, abandonment, neediness, flakiness and all the rest of human frailty. This is just being human. Growth occurs when we admit all of this to ourselves and yet …..forgive and start again.
We take our own hand and commit to stand in our own corner, becoming our own champion.
It does not happen overnight but when shame is dismantled the relief and the freedom is immeasurable. I have heard people say they have felt true joy for the first time…that they feel hopeful about the future for the first time.
For myself….I feel such a relief and being able to be both dark and light. Both ordinary and extraordinary, weak and strong, sad and happy. Angry and peaceful. Yet compassionate with myself and my own learning curve.
Lets walk together…lets forgive ourselves that we might forgive others. When we acknowledge our own shame seems to me we shame and judge others less.
read more on shame at http://www.thereachapproach.co.uk
go to resources type in shame . My thoughts today and my work with clients are inspired/ informed by the work of this organisation.
so keep on keep on and never give up x