Following on from the last blog on shame, here is a brief exploration of why so many people struggle and get stuck in the quicksand of shame
Vasanas (tendencies) Samskaras (memories) and shame
Shame is probably one of the oldest hand-me-downs in human consciousness.
Stories of what is good and bad become memories (samskaras) which feed behaviour, tendencies (vasanas), proclivities and prejudice. It is a shame that we get so stuck in shame.
You may notice how some parents shape their children’s identity with “good” and “bad” projections. Bring to this mix, the generational piece, of their parent’s judgements, then their parents’ parents’ conditioning, and their parents’ parents’ parents’ tendencies and it begins to fall into place. The memories that are handed down generationally are adapted, manipulated and moulded to support cultural tendencies of “the must, should, and have to” club (society).
Shame is a cultural, generational, ancestral energy embedded in the collective consciousness to maintain and regulate the evolution of what we call civilisation. It has formed part of the collective consciousness for so long, it is considered completely normal and necessary.
Shame and trauma often go hand in hand. It warps common sense and muddies discernment. Pretty much all of our clients feel shame for being at the receiving end of abuse, it is not logical, shame is not logical. But then again emotions are not always logical.
It separates you and me from the Truth. The Truth is that we are One and we are LOVE.
Shape, size, and shame
Let’s take a simple FAT example.
Were you body-shamed for being too tall, too short, too skinny, too fat, too white, too dark, too slow, or too clumsy?
How many kids do you know that have been body-shamed over the years? How many adults are fat-shamed today?
Who decides what is beautiful and what isn’t? Why do people spend their hard-earned cash to look like something on a magazine cover?
Shame informs both our comedies and tragedies.
Why do I carry my tweezers in my handbag? Why did I get stressed about weight for years? Simple, I wanted to avoid awkwardness, ridicule, and criticism. And I wanted to experience the opposite of shame, whatever that may be. It is quite wonderful meeting someone that radiates dignity and total self-confidence, regardless of appearance, circumstance, or societal norms. If forgiveness is the curative remedy for shame, are dignity and inner confidence the signs of its healing?
It’s a funny story
Ages and ages ago (I must have been in my 20s) I was on a jaunt, visiting some art galleries. I was having fun, until lunchtime. The waiter taking my order was staring at my chin, I couldn’t figure it out. I touched my chin and felt a bit of stubble and two super long strands of hair. Instantly, I felt mortified, I searched my handbag for tweezers (I had none). I dashed to the ladies’ room and tried to pull the offenders from my chin with my nails. They refused to budge, for the next hour or so, I held my hand over my chin.
When I went to pay the bill, I looked furtively over the shoulder of the cashier, there was a mirror. I saw the shame in my eyes and the ridiculousness of my thoughts all at once. How could I let this destroy my peace? I burst into a huge smile. It was ok. So, I had chin hair!! What was my problem? The cashier beamed back at me. The rest of the day, I had fun stroking my chin hair and gazing at art.
It’s a paradox, you feel shame and you don’t want to feel shame, but until you acknowledge shame with love and joy, you cannot be free from it.
Shame and body consciousness are intertwined. As you break free from body consciousness, the power that shame has in your life also lessens.
Shame is also one of the hidden drivers that feed the ugly side of competition and comparison.
Another area that keeps people trapped in shame, is the unwillingness to embrace the consequences of their actions. As you accept and learn from the consequences of your thoughts, words, and actions, you have less and less to be ashamed of. You become a work in forgiveness and peace.
Perhaps you had an affair, had an abortion, shouted at a child, stole money, lied, cheated, was cruel, rude, hurt someone, betrayed your principles, had a secret addiction, you get it, it’s a long list. Shame is a useful way to keep you feeling condemned. Once you recognise the error of your ways (take responsibility), ask yourself are you capable of learning from this, can you forgive yourself, can you let go of the tendencies that caused you to act in a reprehensible fashion? Can you, be kind? be compassionate? be loving?
The more we are able to take compassionate responsibility for our thoughts, words and actions, and accept the consequences. The more we realise that there are no mistakes.
There are no mistakes…
What lies beyond
To know what lies beyond appearances, opinions, and consequences, one has to break free from the grip of shame. But here is the rub, the paradox, shame does not have a hold on us, we have adopted the attitude of shame and won’t let it go. We grip onto shame by holding onto stories of right and wrong, good and bad, correct and incorrect, pretty and ugly, instead of focusing our discerning power on what is kind and unkind, what is loving and unloving, and what is respectful and disrespectful.
When working with clients that want to break free from shame, I remind them of the story of the monkey and the cookie jar. The monkey wants a cookie, sticks its hand in the cookie jar, and grabs the cookie but can’t get its hand out of the jar. The only way for the monkey to get its hand out of the jar is to let go of the cookie. The cookie is all the things you believe (have been taught) will make you feel worthy, deserving, and loved. As long as you hanker after the cookie, you are caught. Let go of the cookie, let go of the lie, and seek the Truth. Know that you are loved, loving and lovable.
I am forever grateful to God for reminding me over and over again that I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am Love. It is this realisation that serves me through time and space.
In the Vedas and Upanishads, there are a few instances where it is mentioned that the Absolute One Consciousness (God) separated itself from itself to love itself. Ekoham Bahusyam – From One to Many.
THAT separated IT SELF from IT SELF to Love the IT SELF and not to shame itself.
There are many ways to break free from the cycle of shame. You can use EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or LiberatingTouch.
Here is a link to an “I AM meditation” that can help you break free from the cycle of shame
I am meditation – https://youtu.be/oCd54eg_C74
At first, my mind fought, refusing to surrender, refusing to let go of its web of shame, fear and desire. The SELF residing in the heart waited patiently, loving the mind as a mother loves a child. Then one day the mind exhausted, weary, and longing for rest sighed and whispered that it no longer wanted to be separate, it hungered to return home to the SELF. That glimmer of desire was all that it took for the SELF within to take all of the mind’s burdens (fears and attachments). The mind finally found rest in the Heart, there was no more I, just a vast infinite expansion of Love – Home.
Deborah’s Thoughts on Shame
‘Shame’ is a commonly used word in many South African communities and one I use all the time. It’s not always used in the context you might expect. Someone might say, ‘Ah shame,’ when they see a cute baby or, ‘Shame, you lost your purse’, or ‘Shame, he tried so hard,’ or ‘Shame, her mother died when she was young.’ It conveys blended meanings of endearment and/or concern. interestingly, when I was studying Heart Centred Hypnotherapy in New York City, many moons ago, the teacher suggested white South African’s tendency to say ‘shame’ was an expression of the collective unconscious of how white South Africans had treated people of colour during apartheid. Similarly, in Great Britain people frequently say, ‘sorry’, and well, historically, the British do have a lot to ‘be sorry about’.
Like Guilt, shame is a learnt emotion. A baby feels no shame. No shame about their naked body, their wants, needs, preferences, their bodily functions, or their outbursts and tears. No shame about the colour of their skin, their creative expression or the culture they are born into, but sadly, over time… slowly but surely from a very young age we learn to feel shame. That frozen-warm sensation of ickiness inside. Confusing, numbing, paralysing at times, even mortifying.
Shame is usually embedded by parents through their expressions of disapproval of the young child’s choices, (projecting their own shame onto the child because of their attachment to the child as well as the tendency to see them as an extension of themselves). As a young human finding their way in the world shame can burn inside the belly from a mere look or a stern word, to more severe reaction like punishment or abuse.
We internalise this shame-critic that communicates that somehow, we are not good enough, that our actions are wrong or bad. That our desires are unacceptable, or what you desire is shameful.
Once internalised and believed, shame is a menace. It manipulates us and can destroy our dreams and connections, preventing us from being our true authentic selves. We all want to feel a connection with others, with our tribe and extended community but shame stands in the way. Shame holds us back and threatens our ability to totally love and accept ourselves.
The thing with shame is
On a more personal note, I have of course experienced the crippling effects of shame throughout my life. Until I found a way to free myself of some of the layers of internal discontent. I know there is more ‘work to be done,’ and I could immediately feel my body reacting to the idea of writing about my own shame. Getting hot, my breath shortening. Probably because a lot of my shameful feelings are around sexual desires (even quite vanilla desires.) Sex is often such a taboo subject, in many cultures. An internalised judgement (parental, catholic, societal) that sex is bad, wrong, disgusting, stood in the way of me experiencing moments of potential loving connection.
The thing with shame is that even when we consciously override the inner judgements and tell ourselves that something we feel ashamed about, is okay, ‘normal’, even necessary perhaps, the shame still holds us back. I forced myself through the shame at times, making choices I later regretted when I realise, I had compromised myself by not respecting the resistance. Rightly or wrongly shame is a part of me and I was rejecting it. It held me back from expressing myself to others, my thoughts and desires were judged (by me) before they had even left my lips. Freeing myself of shame was liberating and helped me embody my physicality instead of disassociate.
So, what can we do about shame?
With the right tools*, the shame that lurks in the dark corridors of our being can become our superhero. Through meeting those shamed parts of ourselves with radical acceptance, communicating with and releasing the shame, finding forgiveness and trusting our Deeper Truth to guide us, shame can become an avenue to true freedom.
*I would recommend any therapy/practice that includes connecting with your Soul/Higher Self/God, works deeply with the subconscious and brings forgiveness and positive reframing into the process, such as Liberating Touch, EFT, Inner Child Matrix, Hypnotherapy, etc
Deborah is an intuitive and skilled LiberatingTouch Facilitator. She is available as an inspirational speaker on all matters related to the human condition, and for one off sessions during School Holidays. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
That’s all for now, till the next blog, love and blessings, Ranjana
ps. Real Freedom
Some of you reading this may be interested in joining the LiberatingTouch Real Freedom online program in May 2023 to find out more go to: https://fb.me/e/2qtdByupo or https://liberatingtouchcentre.com/diary/ We have only a few places left on this course <3