Have you ever thought about what shame is and how it could be affecting your life by limiting your self-worth?
Shame is a tactic that has been used for centuries as a way to protect and control tribe members. In ancient times, tribes lived in enclosures known as pales. As long as members stayed in the enclosed area, they were protected. But once members stepped “beyond the pale,” the tribe would no longer protect them, and would wound them through abandonment, betrayal, or shame. Many religious leaders control their communities through shame.
In much the same way, shame is used by families. It is passed down from generation to generation and most of us carry shame around for a long time before we even realize it. Shame can originate from something big, such as sexual abuse. But, it can also originate from something seemingly small, such as a passing comment.
And, many families have implied rules that are unspoken. As a child you probably learned about these rules for the first time when you crossed a line that you never knew existed and were subsequently shamed. The well-studied alcoholic family system is a great example of this.
The truth is virtually no one can live past the age of 12 without having been shamed about something. If you have ever felt ashamed of your social status, your body size, or your age it is likely that shame originated from your family. Living with shame can deeply hurt your sense of self-worth. In fact, it can effect your life on many levels, including your health.
What Happens When You Carry Around Your Shame?
When you are shamed as a child, that shame becomes internalized into a lack of self-worth. Unlike guilt, which is the feeling of doing something wrong, shame is the feeling of being something wrong. It is that voice that says “I am not good enough.”
You end up believing that you are flawed and unworthy of the connection you so desperately seek. This often causes an insatiable need for approval from others and a need to feel like you belong.
Bonding from a place of shame can make you physically and emotionally ill. For one thing, bonding with others over the parts of yourself that you feel ashamed of puts you in victimhood. If you bond while in victim-mode, you will tend to bond with other victims who validate how much you’ve suffered and how hard it must have been for you. After a while, these relationships backfire leading to deeper feelings of self-hatred and even self-abuse.
Boys who have been shamed tend to act out in anger. Girls tend to turn their shame inward, becoming more introverted. Narcissists often have shame at the core of their self-inflated behavior and will deflect their shame by devaluing or attacking others. Another pattern that shame can induce is avoidance. In addition, many violent behaviors can have shame as a root cause.
How Shame Affects Your Health
Aside from that queasy feeling in your stomach or that knee-jerk reaction that makes you want to hide, shame can be at the core of many physical and emotional illnesses, including
• Eating disorders
• Perfectionism and other compulsive behaviors
• Chronic pain
• Digestive issues
• Social phobias.
A study by Jean M. Lamont, a researcher at Bucknell University, showed that women who have felt body-shame tend to experience more infections and symptoms, and experience lower levels of health in general.
Another study showed that feelings of shame increased pro-inflammatory cytokines, a marker for inflammation and disease. The people who felt the most shame had the highest elevation of cytokine activity.
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Much love and light always, Leona
Self doubt is a powerful force. It sneeks in ever so slowly and crumbles your foundation of self confidence and self assurance. It starts to seep into every area of your life leaving you dazed and confused. Until one day you are questioning every aspect of your life. Questioning who you are and why are you here? Have you been wasting your time. Have you lost your credibility? What are you passionate about? You go into the darkest aspects of yourselves and others around you. You doubt every decision ever made. Oh it is sneeky. It starts with the small things and then works its way into everything. Until you are sitting in the middle of a dark space and have absolutely no idea what to do.
Then, there is a glimmer of light. Something you can’t put words around. A memory of a time of when there was only love. When an action made a difference. A remembrance of why you are here. Why your impact on this planet is so important. It doesn’t matter what you are doing. It matters the love that you are. The energy of self doubt is such a low vibration of course nothing moves around you. It is like molasses. Slow and sticky. Pulling you into the depths of goo and yuck. Just as you are about to get pulled in forever and lost. There is that flicker you can reach for. The mind has a choice. Reach for it or be pulled forever into the abyss.
There I was at the moment of what is the point? I don’t care anymore. Having thoughts of fuck it. I don’t want to do or be anything for anyone else anymore. Uh I have no passion for anything. No interests. No desires. No love. Just blah! I went to bed with these feelings. I had a night full of the strangest dreams. The next morning I looked at myself in the mirror and see this lack lustre person with static hair. Yuck. Who is she? I see her eyes. Her beautiful glowing green eyes. Maybe she is there? I reach for my phone and see a notice on FB. A dear friend is engaged! I am so happy for her. I check out the guy. I look at their photos. She deserves the best after everything in her life. Then the light. I remember when I helped her. We worked together. She was ready to give up. She was in that sticky place. She had no idea what to do yet she was trying everything. Reaching for every glimmer of light. Then I saw it. The banner on her facebook. It said “Just love yourself”
Remember the courage it took to say yes to you Leona. The courage it took to say yes to come back to Paris and your husband regardless of the odds. Regardless of the naysayers. Regardless of everything. No money. No idea. No papers. No job. No light. You reached for something you knew. Love. Love that you had for what you had invested in in the first place. Before all the self doubt. Before a time of challenges.
I can't give up. They want me to give up. They want me to be powerless and not make a change on this planet and to give up on my mission. They planted self doubt to take me out. To take me off course, to distract me from my mission. Bastards! That is right. That is not very loving yet necessary. I am tired of the bullshit trying to take me off course. I am better than this. I am love. There is no room for self doubt. Just because I can not see the how doesn’t mean I should give up. When I start believing the road will become clear again. Everything will open up. I have just planted all of the seeds and now everything is ready to sprout. I just need to do some weeding and watering. I need to get my shit together again. Make a list. Get into a routine. Have my coffees and lunches. I would love to be on books and stages and platforms and all that will come. As soon as I step back into my purpose. Nice try Self Doubt. You can kiss my butt! I am back. This is my passion. Love. Love Love love and I will share it with the world and I will change the planet. I will assist others who are lost.
Loving me first so I can help others!