So many of us are constantly dealing with shame. Shame around things we’ve done, what we have, our lot in life, or who we are at our core. So what is this getting us? How is the very depleting and sad energy serving our lives?
Shame serves a number of purposes. Two main reasons why shame exists, and works on some level, are: it helps keep us from repeating behaviors that hurt AND it is a way of feeling in control and thus helps us avoid the underlying feelings of the event(s).
On the one hand, your mind/ego believes if you keep yourself on the hook for this or that, which hurt you or frightened you in the past, then you will remain hyper vigilant in avoiding the same situations in the future. Okay, that makes sense and seems practical. But do you really need to continue to feel ashamed in order to not make mistakes? Can you be proud of having learned the lessons and instead focus on that pride? Plus avoiding fear and hurt is almost impossible in human form; so can you just be okay with the notion that at some point you will probably be hurt or scared again and that’s okay—that you will survive it just like you did before? But perhaps this time with more love and acceptance of yourself and all others involved? I know, it’s scary to think things will happen that hurt or scare you…but if you embrace this fear, anxiety can dissipate and you may focus more positively on the lessons you learned.
Shame’s other motivating factor is control. Taking responsibility for everything that occurred, whether it was your fault or not, puts you in the position of control…and control is safety. You may or may not have done something wrong. You may have been a victim of circumstance, or perhaps you made a mistake, which all humans do. The feelings that resulted—whether fear, sadness, or anger—are perhaps too intense for you to allow; and so, you put yourself in the power position of control (i.e. it’s my fault; I am the one who was wrong or bad) and this “power” allows you to a) mask the feelings and b) once again believe that you have the sole, powerful ability to avoid these painful situations in the future. Here’s an idea: let yourself feel what’s underneath. You could be truly sad at having been the person put in that situation, or truly afraid that you’re not safe and will again experience hurt. Whatever it is, feel the feeling underneath the shame. In the end, it will be much easier and much quicker than holding on to perpetual self-deprecation.
Instead of feeling constantly ashamed, remember: you got the lesson, you survived. Be proud of that! Love yourself for that. There is no avoiding sadness and fear. The Warrior embraces these feelings, rather than avoiding them. The Warrior feels afraid, feels sad, feels everything…and keeps moving with the feeling. S/he does not however hold onto lists, blame, or regret—for everything that happened was supposed to happen as it did for everyone involved to learn their own lessons. If you remember your lesson with pride and feel your feelings without judgment, shame will no longer serve its purpose. So, be the warrior. Remember your lesson. Embrace your fear going forward. Let go of the shame.