You know it know longer serves you. You think you have kicked this energy out and yet it keeps sneaking back every time you get a little closer to your desire. That is why you are here today, to empower yourself with more knowledge and tools so you can experience more of what you desire and love now.
Shame has been used for centuries to keep communities together, doing so by shaming people into conforming. Our society has kept this up and instead of bringing people together it has caused people to retreat and isolate themselves.
Everyone has felt the emotional effects of shame at one point or another: embarrassment, fear, shyness, anger, rage, anxiety, envy and anytime there is an emotional reaction to something the body will respond physically.
We see this with heartache, you can literally feel the tightening in your chest, there is also scientific evidence that an emotional heartbreak can cause damage to the strings in the heart.
We see this with stress – the symptoms are endless really but stomach aches, tense muscles, headaches, crying etc.
Shame is one of those emotions that comes up when you believe that there is something wrong with you. It is different from guilt in that guilt is the belief you have done something wrong, something for which there is usually a remedy or amends for. Shame is deep seated. It is literally a strike against the soul.
Shame is believing that who you are is not enough, broken, damaged, no good, wrong, sinful.
The thing about shame is that, it comes from thinking a belief that is untrue. Either by a standard set by society, your family or yourself through observation and interpretation.
Awareness is the first step in starting to release shame. Noticing when you feel the effects of shame and digging deeper into recognizing where this comes from. A lot of the shame that is felt comes from childhood, it may have been a big event or one thing someone said or did to you. Either way it is important to notice it and then allow yourself to release it.
Physiologically your body will respond to the emotion of shame and in turn you will experience immediate symptoms such as:
Shrinking yourself smaller
Diverting eye contact
But moreover the long term effects of shame run deeper and can be felt even when you are not consciously aware of feeling shame.
Shame creates a stress response and stress creates a cortisol release. If you are a highly sensitive person, you are already likely in fight or flight mode more often than not which means you are Heading into if not already, an adrenaline deficit. Being ashamed of who you are because you are “different” from the majority of the population adds to the stress you already feel as a sensitive. It can be a viscous cycle if it is not managed.
Digestive issues abound in someone who is living behind a veil of shame.
Inflammation & infection is higher in bodies that are subjected to constant shame.
As every emotion has a physical counterpart the effects of shame are felt in the pancreas and duodenum. These are the parts of your body that are crucial to digestion and elimination. When shame is felt in the body, these organs want to expel. They want to work to get rid of what feels “disgusting” <- the root of shame. Holding the emotion of shame in your body can cause further damage to these organs.
Shame can lay a heavy beating on your immune system , digestive system and overall your ability and will to thrive in this world.
Let me ask you this. Have you ever had any experiences where you had to keep your truth quiet, particularly as a child? Well it’s time to reclaim your truth and value its power. By doing so, you will release energy, old shame, and subconscious blocks that may now be holding you back from living your life to the fullest.
It could be that you had lots of family secrets that your parents made sure you told no one about (which creates shame), or it could be you were bullied and felt unable to confide in anyone about it.
There are many circumstances where we have our truth kept locked in, and unintentionally we create shame around our truths. If you feel unable to speak your truth, then you feel shame. It’s nature’s law.
When we become shameful of our truths, we end up cutting off, discrediting, and devaluing a hugely important chunk of who we are and how we show up in the world.
This is true for me. When I was growing up, my parents had an emotionally abusive relationship, and I was sworn to secrecy about it. My parents wanted no one outside of the house to know what was going on. My sister and I had to practice the perception of perfection. Those cute little girls in their matching dresses and hair in ponytails. They are so polite and quiet, all the outsiders would say. Wow you have the nicest girls. They get up from the table and clear it without being asked. This is what the world saw. Not the unstable life on the inside. Parents constantly fighting. Our mother whose self esteem was so low and lived with her own mountain of guilt and shame acquired from her own childhood. So now it was being reflected on us little girls and her words would cut us like a sword and rip our hearts out. Then the next moment she would feel guilty and pull us back together so we looked like little dolls that were so precious. The stress it put on my sister and I to hold it all together on the outside. Never cry cause it shows a sign of weakness. Make sure you have good marks in school. Well that won’t matter cause you will be like the other generations of women before. Pregnant by 16 and not finishing high school. Wow. No shame intended here. Can you hear it in my voice? Sarcasm.
Then there was my father had anger issues and dealt with his emotions thru alcohol. He also had his own issues of shame given to him from his mother and father. Now don’t get me wrong, my parents were doing the best they could with the tools and experiences they had. They both loved us and we loved them. Yet what I learned growing up was it was better to not speak up or voice my feelings. Living under the same roof as them, it was impossible for me to not be affected by what was happening, yet I was unable to have my experience validated.
My parents were busy fighting, being in tension, or creating drama, and I was conditioned to not talk to anyone about “the troubles at home.” So my truth was shut down, kept only to me, my sister and my journal.
After my parents divorced, it didn’t getting any easier. Actually there was more shame attached to this. It actually affected my self esteem way down (which I kept under wraps as most thought I was a very confident young woman) I eventually moved out and on to college, and started my adult life. I felt proud of myself for staying strong through all the tough times at home, for being an emotional rock for my mother, and for forgiving my father for not being the kind of dad I wanted him to be.
Yet in my early twenties, things started to shift. After a few career U-turns, few rocky love affairs, a few years of experiencing Europe. I started to feel unsure of myself, and it started to bring up emotions I hadn’t felt for a long while.
For a long time, I’d considered myself to be strong, independent, and able to make decisions easily, and I was, overall, really confident. During my job changes, I felt unsure, doubtful, confused, and shameful.
Curious, I wanted to know where this shame came from. When in my life previously had I felt shame strongly? It led me back to when I was unable to truly have presence as “me” growing up—I was the girl who could only be a silent participant in an unhealthy household.
When I was told to not talk to anyone about what was going on, it was as if being told that my truth, perspective, and feelings were shameful.
At first I felt angry toward my parents, and any adults who may have known what had been going on but hadn’t shown concern towards my experience of the situation. But then, like a scientist, I detached and focused on how to release the shame.
I could see that some part of me must still be carrying shame toward speaking my truth, and the only way to release it was to share my truth.
So I told my story to a trusted friend. I didn’t leave anything out and quickly started to feel better. No one outside my family had known about what was going on, or what I’d experienced and seen. By telling someone outside of the family, I felt a shift—as if a spell was being broken.
Telling my truth did not make the sky fall down. It did not make me feel shameful. And it helped me see that while I’d been nurturing the brave, confident, no-BS side of me, there was a neglected side of me that needed to be seen—lonely, frustrated, confused, ignored.
Those “negative” aspects of ourselves are often the emotions we try to avoid, but as I began to validate them it helped me feel more compassion toward myself.
Feeling proud of yourself for your good qualities is one thing; being able to embrace yourself when you feel anger, resentment, or jealousy is another. And I learned that I have a “right” to feel all things.
Just as it’s okay to be excited, happy, and content, it’s also okay to feel sad, nervous, and bored.
Especially if you had an incident as a youngster where your “negative emotions” weren’t given space to be expressed, it’s important to be able to validate them now as an adult.
A lot of self-love work is about uncovering that hidden part of yourself and giving it light, room to breathe, capacity to exist. When we deny any part of ourselves we are not allowing ourselves to be truly who we are.
That’s not to say we should broadcast all our vulnerabilities on Facebook or go share with people who we know are incapable of honouring our truth. It could mean seeing a counsellor, a coach, a mentor or airing it to a non-judgmental support network.
When we realize we were “made” to keep our truths hidden by our environment or others, the first natural step is to feel angry, especially if this pattern of having to keep quiet took place as a kid or teen. Why didn’t the adults in our lives do the right thing and give us space to be heard?
Normally it had to do with their fears, insecurities, shames, and inability to face the truths for themselves. The important thing is to accept that they were unable to have done anything differently—to have provided you with what you needed.
Whatever you feel you needed from them (validation, support, safety to speak truth), accept and make peace with the fact you will never get these things from them. You can’t re-write history, and it may be likely that they are still, now, incapable of giving these things to you.
What we can do today, right now, is begin to release the habit of self-repression that we may have inherited from the past.
How do we do that?
Start to shine light and love on your truth, whether that’s turning your attention to your true passions that may have been ignored or taking baby steps to speak up on what doesn’t work for you.
Often we swallow our own opinions or needs in order to “keep the peace.” It’s time to take very small steps to rock the boat!
If you are subconsciously holding out for someone else to finally “See you” or love the real you, drop in with yourself and ask:
“Do I see the “real” me? Am I allowing my true self to be voiced, to be seen, to take up space?”
Do you have spaces in your life where you can “drop your guard” and be authentic?
I’ve found that having my truths validated is hugely important, and the following simple exercise is a good place to help you start:
Visualize a kind, benevolent being (which could be a trusted friend or person you know or your preferred idea of the universe/higher power/spirit) is with you and is saying this to you:
“I love that you love…”
And then allow yourself to list all the things you love! Write it down as a list.
“I love that you love making art. I love that you love dancing. I love that you love to have fun.”
This always leaves me feeling re-affirmed and self-secure. It never fails to make me feel happy to be me. And it allows me to feel loved for who I truly am, not for what I do for others.
If you have repressed anger or frustration/resentment (which is likely when we repress part of ourselves), find ways to healthily express it (for example a martial arts class).
I hope this helps you with your journey to truly valuing who you are at your core. Send love and validation to the aspects of yourself that perhaps your peers, family, and colleagues didn't or don't “get.” You have to expand to be all of yourself.
What’s the story?
Shame doesn’t appear from nowhere. It’s a form of conditioning that inhabits your mind, heart, body, and spirit. Maybe you were somehow made to feel ashamed of yourself when you were young – ashamed of who you are, your level of intelligence, your body.
There might be a story of shame that you’ve carried for a long time, but it’s actually a role you’ve taken on that is optional. Start to tell yourself that this shame story doesn’t have to define you.
Remember that who you are is not this story. Your essence is whole, not separate from anything, and boundlessly free.
Practice: Stand up and feel yourself in that familiar story of shame. Yes, right now! Just try it. Now, take a big step to one side and leave the story behind. Feel yourself minus the story. This is the possibility for you.
How does shame live in your body?
Every emotion has a physical component to it. Getting to know shame includes knowing how it lives in your body.
It may take some time to discover the physical experience of shame because it’s become so commonplace to you. Get quiet and bring your attention to your body. Then notice any physical sensations and places of numbness. You don’t need to do anything about them.
This is an exercise in simply meeting in open awareness what has been there anyway. It’s about making friends with the physical part of shame.
When you realize you don’t need to live the story of shame and you become aware of the sensations, the heaviness of this identity begins to dissolve. It’s the road to freedom.
Practice: As much as possible, a hundred times a day if necessary, bring your attention into your body and just be with whatever is happening. There’s no need to do anything; just simply be.
How you speak to yourself
Our inner self-talk can be so painfully harsh. And if you look at the root of what drives it, you’ll find shame, that feeling that there’s something terribly wrong—or worse—about you. Once you begin meeting the shame directly—by not being so captured by the story and feeling the physical sensations—this way of speaking to yourself starts to not even make sense anymore.
Let’s tell the truth. Are you actually that incompetent, inadequate so-and-so you think you are? If you look at these inner statements with the objective eyes of a scientist, you’ll be able to punch holes in them immediately.
By now, this negative self-talk is a habit that needs your attention, and the more intelligent focus you give it, the more it will unravel. Commit to recognizing this voice and letting its reign over you diminish.
Practice: Start by assuming that this damaging inner voice isn’t accurate and doesn’t serve. This is the truth. At least once every day, turn your attention away from these self-critical thoughts and let them float on by like clouds. Be the sky—vast, empty, and serene. Start to live here as much as possible and the critical thoughts begin to lose their power.
Know how and why you isolate
Living with shame is lonely and isolating. It makes you believe that no one would want to get close to you, which justifies your pushing them away. How do you do that? By being critical and judgmental of others.
Recognizing the urge to isolate is essential to moving through shame. Because it is a sign that your shame identity has taken charge. When you find yourself judging others and feeling separate, this is your golden moment to begin asking questions about your experience. What story do you believe? How do you feel in your body?
Not judging shame and welcoming it instead is the beginning of forming a new, healthy relationship—with yourself. Then you don’t need to be critical of others or push them away. You’re more available, authentic, and courageously vulnerable. And others will love you for it.
Practice: Recognize when you judge others and realize this is about you: it makes you feel separate. Is shame at the root of this need to separate? Inquire into what you’re thinking and feeling. Realize the possibility of a true connection with others.
Is there fear there?
Shame and fear often go hand in hand. You’re afraid of being seen for who you are. And at the same time, you fear being alone. You’re afraid you’re damaged goods, doomed to a life of misery.
As you get to know shame, become aware of various fears that may be lurking. Bring fear, too, out of the shadows and meet it lovingly.
Practice: Check to see if fear is present. Let down your resistance and allow it in, especially how it appears in your body. Like a long-lost child returning home, embrace the fear. Let it be there for as long as it wants to.
Moving ForwardFind the strength in being vulnerable
Vulnerability gets a bad rap these days. But what it actually offers you is the relief from having to hide from yourself, the simplicity of just being as you are without having to change anything.
Whatever you feel is your present moment experience. Resisting it creates endless suffering, and welcoming it in is the path to inner peace. This is the medicine for the secret of shame.
Be as you are. Not in the story of who you think you are that is denigrating and destructive—you’ve lived there long enough. Instead, shift your attention away from these thoughts, and allow your current experience as it is. These sensations…this breath…touching…hearing…looking…speaking…
It’s so relaxing because you don’t have to hide or grasp. You can just be.
Practice: Begin to get comfortable being with whatever you are experiencing in any given moment. Start with just a few moments until you see that it’s OK, that whatever you’re afraid will happen, won’t. Then, more and more, let yourself be.
Sacred honesty—with yourself
When you live in shame, you are constantly lying to yourself. You draw yourself into a trance that makes you believe you are inadequate, unworthy, and just plain wrong. The truth? It’s just plain inaccurate.
Healing from shame invites radical honesty. Are you up for it?
Whenever you are feeling separate and lacking, question your experience. Find the gap (#2 above), and recognize the thoughts and feelings in your body that have taken hold.
Then realize that who you are is so much more than this identity. To be perfectly honest, you are whole, unbroken, and infinitely at peace. Keep returning here. Become more and more transparent so the light of truth shines through.
Practice: Investigate your direct experience with a discerning eye to see what is true and what is false. Live in the truth of yourself as whole, full, pure, and capable.
Wide open heart
Shame is all about limitation, holding back, and keeping yourself separate and isolated. And where is your heart? Wounded, stuck, and closed.
Begin to live with a heart wide open. Move your attention outside of your head to notice the beauty and tenderness around you. It’s been there all along, you just haven’t noticed. Let yourself be touched by the simple experiences of daily life.
Shame is a filter that keeps you from life, and dissolving the filter leaves you available and receptive. Without even trying, you begin to notice love and appreciation. Where before you held back, now you engage.
Recovering from shame opens you to being fully alive!
Practice: Find within you the courage to begin to open your heart. Instead of being absorbed in shame, experience things—and people—with fresh eyes. When you notice that you are closed, open…open…open…
It's not easy to deal with painful emotions head-on. But it's a key to good health and well-being physically, mentally, and spiritually. If we don’t deal with pain when it occurs, it will resurface as compounded emotional toxicity later on — showing up as insomnia, hostility, and anger, or fear and anxiety.
As a further complication, if you don’t know how to deal with feelings of anger and fear, you're likely to turn them inward at yourself, believing, “It’s all my fault.” That guilt depletes our physical, emotional, and spiritual energy until any initiative or movement feels impossible. We feel exhausted and paralyzed, leading to depression.
You can learn how to recognize painful emotions right away and how to effectively "metabolize" and eliminate pain.
Overcoming difficult emotions such as fear, anger, guilt, and anxiety can bring the same disguised benefits that dealing with a physical illness can bring. Patients suffering from life-threatening illness often report that their diseases have taught them to love and value the other people in their lives more deeply than before they became ill. During recovery they learn to appreciate and understand areas of life that they took for granted before. While anger, fear, and worry are not diseases, we can grow from them even as we process them to become the person we want to be.
By turning to our inherent intelligence, harmony, and creativity, we can create a positive outcome; but if we are emotionally turbulent, we are too agitated to access that possibility.
WHY MEDITATION IS PART OF THIS EXERCISEThrough meditation we can experience our silent self beyond our thoughts and emotions. This is our internal reference point for equilibrium. From here we can create a desired outcome. To restore balance in our life, meditation must be an essential ingredient.
It is also important to support this with balanced activity in the basic areas of diet, exercise, and sleep. While some of these meditation exercises do not require any, we recommend our simple and effective meditation accessories for beginners.
Assuming these fundamental balancing components are in place, I would offer an additional exercise to specifically address what to do in the face of intense anxiety and fear.
LEARN HOW TO METABOLIZE PAIN WITH THIS SEVEN-STEP EXERCISEToxic, turbulent emotions have one cause — not knowing how to deal with pain. Pain is normal in life, but suffering isn’t. When we do not know how to deal with pain, we suffer.
IDENTIFY AND LOCATE THE EMOTION PHYSICALLYSet aside a few minutes when you won’t be disturbed. Pick any quiet place where you feel calm. It is recommended to take a seat that is sturdy, yet comfortable. The best practice is sitting up straight. The floor is not a bad idea, but this can become uncomfortable very quickly. Our meditation seating options are a strong and accessible alternative for those who seek deep meditation with both physical and emotional comfort. Sit in a relaxed position and close your eyes. For a few minutes, just meditate in silence. Focus on your breathing — or if you prefer, you may use a mantra.
Now with eyes still closed, recall some circumstance in the recent past that was upsetting to you. It may be a time when you felt you were mistreated, an argument with your partner, or perhaps a past injustice at work. Identify some instance where you felt emotionally upset.
For the next 30 seconds, think in detail about that incident. Try to picture what actually happened as vividly as you can, as if you were reporting it for a newspaper. Here, you are the observer watching this event. You are not the event, argument, or emotional upset; you are merely witnessing what is happening from the perspective of your silent self. You are carrying the effect of the meditation you just did, allowing you to maintain a vantage point that is not overshadowed by the intensity of the emotions.
Now identify exactly what you are feeling. Put some word on the incident that describes what you are experiencing. Be as precise as you can. Do you feel unappreciated? Insulted? Treated unfairly? Give the feeling a name. Come up with a word that epitomizes the painful experience. Focus your attention on that word.
WITNESS THE EXPERIENCEGradually allow your attention to move away from the word. Let your attention wander into your body. Become aware of the physical sensations that arise in your body as a result of the emotion you’ve identified.
These two elements — an idea in the mind and a physical sensation in the body — are what an emotion truly is, and they can’t really be separated. This is why we call it a feeling — because we feel emotions in our bodies.
Let your attention pass through your body as you’re recalling this experience. Locate the sensations the memory brings up. For many it’s a pressure in the chest or a sensation of tightness in the gut. Some feel it as pressure in their throat. Find where it is in your body that you’re feeling and holding the emotional experience.
EXPRESS THE EMOTIONNow express that feeling. Place your hand on the part of your body where you sense that the feeling is located. Say it out loud: “It hurts here.” If you’re aware of more than one location for the pain, move your hand from place to place. At every location, pause for a moment and express what you’re feeling. Say, “It hurts here.”
When you experience physical discomfort, it means that something is unbalanced in your experience — physically, mentally, or spiritually. Your body knows it — every cell in your body knows it. Befriend these sensations and their wisdom, because the pain is actually leading you to wholeness.
Writing your feelings out on paper is also a valuable way to express the emotion. This is especially effective when you can write out your painful experience in the first person, in the second person, and finally from the perspective of a third-person account.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITYBe aware that any painful feelings you experience are your feelings. These feelings are happening inside your body now as you remember the pain, even though nothing is actually taking place in the material world. You’re only remembering what happened, yet your body is reacting with muscle contractions, hormonal secretions, and other responses within you. Even when the painful incident was occurring in the material world, the effect was entirely within you. You have a choice in how you interpret and respond to emotional turbulence. Recognizing this is taking responsibility for your feelings.
This doesn’t mean you feel guilty. Instead, it means you recognize your ability to respond to painful situations in new and creative ways. By taking responsibility for your feelings, you can also gain the power to make the pain melt away. You’re no longer blaming anyone else for having caused the pain, so you no longer have to depend on anyone else to make it go away. Hold that understanding in your consciousness for the next few moments.
RELEASE THE EMOTIONPlace your attention on the part of your body where you’re holding the pain, and with every exhalation of your breath, have an intention of releasing that tension. For the next 30 seconds, just feel the painful sensation leaving your body with every breath. Some people find that making an audible tone that resonates in that part of your body where the pain is localized helps to loosen and lift the contraction away.
You can also experiment to discover what works best for you. For some people, singing or dancing does the trick. You may try deep breathing, using essential oils, or taking a long warm bath. Finally, if you have written out your emotions on paper, it can be helpful to ritually burn the paper and offer the ashes to the winds.
SHARE THE OUTCOMESharing the outcome of releasing your pain is important because it activates the new pattern of behaviour after the old painful pattern is released. Imagine that you could speak to the person who was involved in that original painful incident. What would you say to that person now?
Bear in mind that he/she was not the real cause of your pain. The real cause was your response. In your transformed state, you are now free. So you can share what happened without blame, manipulation, or seeking approval. Perhaps they intended to cause you pain, and you may have unwittingly collaborated in that intention. Maybe you would like to say you no longer intend to fall into such traps.
Whatever you say is totally up to you. As long as you have an awareness of the steps we’ve taken so far in this exercise, whatever you say will be right for you.
CELEBRATE THE PROCESSNow you can celebrate the painful experience that had taken place as the valuable material that helped you move to a higher level of consciousness. What was previously a disconnected, destructive, and disabled part of your psyche is now integrated and contributing its power toward your greater spiritual goal. Instead of responding to the situation with a pain reflex, perpetuating the problem, you’ve turned it into an opportunity for spiritual transformation. That is something to celebrate! Go out for a nice dinner or buy yourself some flowers or a present to honour the new you.
Use this exercise whenever you feel upset, to free yourself from emotional turbulence and the underlying pain. When you do that, you’ll find that opportunities will arise more often in every area of your life.
If you are ready to receive more of what you desire in this life. More love. Healthier relationships. A better relationship with your body and the love you have for yourself. I am inviting you to a 30 minute call with me. Let’s do this. Raise your hand if you would like to have a call with me. Let’s set up a call now. Contact me at RAISING MY HAND!!!
Much love and light always,