Shame has no useful purpose. It only condemns us. It does nothing to create connection. As a result of feeling shame we hide the parts we think are unacceptable. When we hide, we are alone. Maybe you have connections with people, but they don’t know about that part of you; the part that’s responsible for your shame. This means only part of you shows up in your relationships, not all of you. It’s probably better than no connection but that’s not real connection. How do you bring that hidden part of yourself out of shame and into acceptance?
It’s not an easy journey. It’s simple on paper, but the actual execution is challenging. The antidote to shame is acceptance. Shame says, in essence, you are a bad person (or not enough or too much…). Acceptance says you are enough, just right and good. You likely don’t always do everything in your life perfectly. You screw-up at times. You aren’t very nice every moment of every day. Welcome to humanity! None of us have it all together all the time and do everything as it should be done in every circumstance. We try. That’s all we can do. Sometimes we hit the mark, and sometimes we miss it. The most important action we can take is to accept who we are and how we function.
This doesn’t mean I don’t look at my choices and critique them. If I hurt someone else or screw something up, it’s important that I look at what happened and learn from it. How could I have treated that person better or improved the execution of a project. I only look at the event with an eye focused on learning from it not beating myself up. If I start saying things to myself like, “You are such a stupid person!” I will only add to the shame I already feel. Don’t go there. As soon as you catch yourself saying shaming statements, stop. Say something like, “I made a mistake.” or “I hurt someone.” Then follow with, “What can I learn from this? How can I change my actions so I don’t hurt someone or screw something up in the same way?” Let those who were affected by your actions know you own what you did and are sorry. That action also helps foster connection because you aren’t hiding the shamed part. You are taking away the shame and bringing the offending action into the light where healing can take place.
Sometimes we have deeply hidden shamed parts. The best antidote is to confide in a safe and trusted person. Keeping the shame buried deep inside will never help. Like I stated before, when shame is brought into relationship, healing can begin. Until you let light shine in those dark places, you will not experience freedom.
Life is all about learning, not shaming. When we accept the parts of us that don’t have it all together all the time, we walk in freedom.