Let it go.
Shame dampens our spirit and takes the color out of life. It also kills relationships or prevents us from allowing them in the first place.
Shame is related to fear, unworthiness, and a lack of self-love. It's a poison that often leads to health and mental health problems, unsuccessful relationships, depression, anxiety and a general dissatisfaction with life.
Typically, we're handed the "not good enough" messages as children and then we collected the evidence of our unworthiness like collecting loose change.
The antidote is not about getting someone else to change their behavior or make amends for past transgressions. We don't have to feel shame just because others engage in shaming. We also need to recognize and break the habit of shaming ourselves.
In fact, self-love eliminates the need to shame oneself or others.
Your power for healing lies in loving yourself. Self-love is the antidote for past shame and the perfect preventative of future shame. If you are solidly in love with yourself, you will not be so vulnerable to the unconscious cruelty of others.
And, you'll recognize your inner shaming voice as lacking credibility.
You can release and heal core shame by focusing on loving your entire self — mind, body, and spirit. This includes acknowledging and accepting all the messy parts of being a human, too. The messy parts provide our interesting colors and quirks.
Self-love activates healing on every level. It builds confidence and a sense of security in your life. It fills your proverbial well so that you can share love more genuinely and fully with others. It changes the lens through which you see life.
It sounds magical, and frankly it is, when you really experience the connectedness, fullness, and tenderness of loving yourself.
The development of love is much like learning other skills in life. I didn't walk onto the tennis court with the ability to overcome Serena Williams. Learning to love yourself is about developing a loving relationship with yourself like you do with friend, family, or pets. It takes practice every day.
How to heal shame
When one doesn't feel self-love or even believe in it, what do you do? Here are 3 ideas that I believe are core in the process.
1. Act lovingly to yourself everyday
Ask yourself, "What would it mean to love myself today?" Choose loving actions during your day.
Here are just a few ideas. Get creative about what loving behavior looks like. Treat yourself at least as well as you treat your best friend or pet.
Make eye contact with yourself in the mirror and speak loving things about yourself. Repeat a loving mantra to yourself all day like, "I love and appreciate myself (you)" or "I'm learning to love and accept myself."
Look up Louise Hay for endless ideas for loving affirmations. Give yourself compliments. You can always find things to like. "I like this barrette I chose today."
Make yourself a special meal. Hug yourself to sleep. Take hot baths with sea salts. Get your hair done. Wear only clothes that make you feel good and get rid of all the rest. Self-love is an inside job.
2. Letting go
This is an effective tool for dealing with painful past emotions that get activated by a current situation. You don't need to analyze why you feel what you feel. Just allow yourself to feel whatever is there.
I use this process with many clients. Begin with a short meditation for grounding in the body. Create a large container for your feelings by expanding your energy field. This tends to provide a lot of relief from difficult emotions in itself. We have a tendency to clamp down when something doesn't feel good.
Connect with your 2nd Chakra (emotional/intuitive center) by putting your hands and awareness on your lower abdomen. Now, tune into the emotions and sensations in your body. This is when you begin the process of letting go.
Simply allow the ebb and flow of your breath and emotions without analysis, judgment, argument, or attempting to control. I encourage you to make room for whatever you're feeling and let it flow out of your body as smoke, dirty water, sound, or however you perceive it.
Next, point your awareness to arising emotions or resistance to what you're feeling so that you can simply let go of those, too. No matter what arises, simply let go over and over and over.
Stay with it until you notice changes in the intensity of what you feel. You can practice it until it is all gone. This also typically reduces the intensity the next time this particular painful emotion gets activated. Over time, the reaction gets smaller and easier to let go. Also, as your skill develops you will be able to do it more easily right in the moment you need it. Be patient.
My clients experience a sense of empowerment from having an effective way to cope with difficult emotions that doesn't involve fighting with themselves.
3. Don't drink from the poisoned pond
Meditate with this metaphor for a while. View the self as a landscape. You're sitting on top of a mountain looking out over bare cliffs, a variety of forests, pastures, meadows, rivers, lakes, valleys, and hills.
There are all kinds of plants from flowers to poison ivy. There's the gamut of animal varieties.
Your shame is a stinking poisoned pond. But, there are plants and organisms that can live in there. They digest the poisons and purify the water. The rains dilute the poisons. And, the landscape will eventually reclaim the pond making it earth once again.
Appreciate the pond's beauty, its complexity and the dynamic nature that will transform it in time. There is nothing unnatural. There is nothing ugly. There is nothing evil.
Don’t drink from the pond. Don't buy into any messages that you are not enough, unworthy, unlovable, or deserving of shame.
Ultimately, all healing is self-healing.
I believe healing shame is rooted in loving yourself deeply. Acknowledge the facts of what took place, the painful wounds, and the grief of feeling it all. Healing comes from acknowledging, loving, and releasing.
Love yourself. Let shame go every day. Refuse to drink the poison.
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