Thursday, March 21, 2013

" Shame ... "

Well there’s three versions of this story mine, 
yours and then the truth
And we can put it down to circumstance, 
our childhood, then our youth
Out of some sentimental gain I wanted you to feel my pain, 
but it came back return to sender ...

What a shame we never listened ...
And all that went away was the price we paid
People spend a lifetime this way
And that’s how they stay
Oh what a shame.

Words come easy, when they’re true
Words come easy, when they’re true

People spend a lifetime this way
Oh what a shame
Such a shame, what a shame

~ Robbie Williams ~ Shame ~

Something that I haven’t talked about in a while is ... shame.  We all have shame, we all live with shame.  Previously I talked about the shame when I was diagnosed but only recently am I starting to make the connection between shame, vulnerability and courage.  

Dr. Brene Brown has spent  most of her research on the above.  She has the following though-provoking video worth watching:
... and can be found on Oprah’s Soul Sunday’s series as well.  

I learned about Dr. Brown through my weekly meditation class.    We were shown the above video and there are many things that resonated with me.  The idea that we are all unique but the same as well.  We want happiness, love, forgiveness and connection.  So despite our best efforts, what keeps us from living then?

Well we are all “living” if we are breathing ... but we may not be really “living” wholehearted and fully involved existences.

“Guilt is NOT bad for you” ... Dr. Brown says that guilt occurs when we compare something we’ve done or failed to do with our personal values.  But there is a difference between guilt and shame.  Shame happens even when we don’t know it is happening, but if feels different than guilt.  

Guilt is “I am sorry I made a mistake”.  
Shame is “I am sorry I am a mistake”.

The dictionary definitions of shame "the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another... '"

But I am learning that unconscious shame is often the root cause of unfinished challenges.  Feelings of inadequacy or powerless, or great exposure can bring on shame.  Shame often comes up when we are “caught” doing, thinking, or feeling something that we and others find objectable.

A connected thought to shame that resonates with me is ... 
"Who do you think you ARE, anyway?".  
That little voice in my head recites this to me.  
My shame gremlin.

Shame is a prison because it keeps a person caged in feelings of worthlessness, self-hatred and even despair.  And there are several sources for shame ... culture, families, relationships and our own self-shaming thoughts and behaviours.  Shamed people fear that if others really knew them, they’d be disgusted or hate them.  Sadly, the basic nature of chronic or excessive shame is that the shamed person believes at some level that they should not exist.

Shame is toxic and bankrupts you spiritually.  
Guilt people fear punishment and shamed people fear abandonment.

I am learning that healthy shame tells us something is wrong in our lives and can motivate change.  I am also learning that healthy shame is temporary whereas excessive shame is not.

Next is to learn how to heal from shame, whether it be dealing with childhood wounds, grief work or giving voice to my inner child.  Integrating my disowned parts ... acceptance of ALL of my self.  

Choosing to love myself, unconditionally, is the greatest enemy of shame.  Unconditional love comes from within.  And I was told to start with reciting the following words ... "I love myself and I accept myself exactly as I am, right now, at this moment.".  And even if I don’t believe them fully yet, it is a start to healing those unfinished challenges ...

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