What you resist persists. I used to think that was an overused, empty saying but recent emotional work has shown me the truth of it. Shame is one of my favourite self-conscious emotions to tuck away in the dark corners of my mind. It carries a heavy weight and a dirty core that often feels too overwhelming to look at. I think this is true for many of us.
We resist acknowledging the sense of inadequacy, unworthiness, regret or disconnection that comes with shame because we somehow convince ourselves that it will dissipate…disappear over time – if we turn our attention elsewhere. This couldn’t be further from the truth. That which we avoid sits festering in our minds and bodies, begging to come to light for acknowledgement and clearing. It’s not going anywhere, at least not without a fight.
Healing Old Wounds
I’ve spent the past few years dedicating a lot of my “me time” to self-development work like therapy, meditation and yoga. It’s proved incredibly powerful for healing many past wounds and traumas. Now that I’ve created some new space and a container for that which surfaces, my psyche’s bringing all sorts of new treats to my door. The latest flavour is shame – the shame I’ve attached to many of the experiences I’ve already looked at. It’s like the last piece of the puzzle for emotional recovery.
It’s not fun and it’s certainly not easy to face our demons, whatever they are. Shame can be a really tough one because it’s often tied to some core beliefs we have about who we are and how we’re supposed to respond to situations – ideas we’ve usually developed in childhood. It takes time to shake them and a strong support system. But it’s a crucial component of positive mental health and building resilience as a human being on this sometimes trying planet.
Releasing shame can be a beautiful process. Every time I look at an incident that triggered a shame response, I feel a little shaky at first, a little gross, maybe even a little embarrassed but then… I feel relief. A new space opens up in my heart to let love in – a space previously occupied by feeling undeserving of such a thing. One breath, one day and sometimes, one moment at a time, I can let that heavy weight go and replace it with positive beliefs about myself and my worth.
If you’re struggling with shame – whether it’s attached to the way you reacted to your friend, a trauma that you’ve experienced or something more benign – know that you’re not alone. It’s a universal emotion that we all feel at one point or another and, just like mental health, it’s not a dirty word. It has a place in our emotional wellbeing. Get support. Reach out to a therapist, a trusted friend or some kind of support group to start looking at it. Write it down. Every. Nasty. Particle of it. Then, take a few deep breaths. Take a walk, shake it out, dance it out and keep trekking. Release the belief that you deserve to be shackled by shame and take tiny steps forward into the world of self- love.
A Meditation for Shame: https://bit.ly/2vAjzWy
The Role of Shame in Supporting Mental Health: https://bit.ly/2DChy1b
Overcoming Shame-Based Thinking: https://bit.ly/2Mixlr3