The Cloak of Shame – It’s all torture, headaches, torment, an aching pit in the gut, judgement, criticism, blame, regret, shame and a poisonous self-hate.
Shame causes us to
- devalue ourselves
- devalue others
- create situations and circumstances that keep proving our
- feelings of worthlessness,
- feelings of inadequacy,
- feelings of our inability to measure up and
- feelings of uselessness
- and will often lead us to thinking more about others than ourselves, or making assumptions or statements about others to help us to feel better about ourselves.
We hear over and over growing up –
- “you make me so angry”
- “you are useless”
- ‘you are hopeless”
- “you make me sad”
etc, and we grow up thinking that we ARE useless, are a burden, cannot do anything right, are responsible for others happiness – and this creates feelings – feelings of shame.
Feelings like “I am a bad person, I do not deserve to be here, I do not matter, if I was not here, then nothing would go wrong and everyone would be happy”!
Unfortunately, we have been taught that we ARE our feelings – and this disempowers us big time.
It does not matter where the shame comes from or how long it has been there – what matters is that we can do something about it, no matter how overwhelmed you feel, no matter how hopeless or bad you feel – we can help you recover.
We can restore self-esteem, we can bring healthy balance and expression to the varied emotions that so often accompany shame, such as sadness, desolation, abandonment, exhaustion, anxiety, anger/rage, envy, and jealousy.
So in the light of this potential –
Lets get one thing straight RIGHT NOW –
NO-ONE can make another person FEEL anything! Lets say that again – even if we had a gun at our head, no-one else has the power to make us feel any certain way – that power and control is OURS and OURS ALONE!
We are NOT our feelings –they can be and are useful guides to us if we can step back enough to understand this simple fact.
The journey is to keep choosing what we feel.
One powerful secret is to know that if we have had one feeling, we can have another feeling. AND we do not have to remain stuck in the unhelpful, unhappy and destructive feelings.
Victor Frankl was a man in the concentration camps who turned his life and others around in the middle of the horror, death, destruction and seeming hopelessness of the war…Everything can be taken from a man but one thing,” Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”Frankl worked as a therapist in the camps, and in his book, he gives the example of two suicidal inmates he encountered there. Like many others in the camps, these two men were hopeless and thought that there was nothing more to expect from life, nothing to live for. “In both cases,” Frankl writes, “it was a question of getting them to realize that life was still expecting something from them; something in the future was expected of them.” For one man, it was his young child, who was then living in a foreign country. For the other, a scientist, it was a series of books that he needed to finish.
Another secret is We have power to accept our feelings, not own them – we feel them and they are useful guides to we if you can step back and do not place all our energy and focus on them, or own them.
Acceptance is not ownership nor is it a cop-out or avoidance – it is acknowledgment – and acceptance does not mean we must stay in that thought, feeling or situation.
Another secret is to choose our words carefully, By this I mean get very clear and state that, “I feel angry”, rather than, “I am angry”, “I feel sad, or exhausted” rather than, “I am sad or exhausted”.
Feel the difference in this. When we feel sick, tired or unwell how many times to we say or hear “I am so sick”, or I am sick and tired?
What is more powerful is to say, “I feel unwell in this moment”.
Feelings can be changed and are fleeting – we have the ability to shift out of a feeling and feel another more appropriate one.
“I am” declares ownership – that we are that!
Because we have grown up giving away our power to others, we believe that others can make us feel – yet when we gaze on a wonderful sunset, a joy filled puppy or kitten in play, a baby laughing, a couple in love, we have feelings – they will vary person to person, however they are our feelings in that moment, spontaneous and free of others influence or dictation.
Learn to acknowledge your feelings, let them know you are aware of them,then let the feelings go by finding something more appropriate to focus your attention and energy on
This will not only give your more energy, it will go a long way to restore your compromised health and free you of the burdens and pain of your life – of which you may or may not be aware of.