The feeling of SHAME in almost every culture is horrendous. When someone feels shame, they believe they have done something worthy of being rejected. They are dishonorable, slimy, dishonest, degraded, banished. And they know it.
When I consider the feeling of shame, feeling humiliation, sorry and unworthy, it feels soooo low. Worthless. Disgusting. Hideous.
This is one of the worst human experiences.
Brene Brown is a speaker and author who has been studying shame in the human experience. Just like the way we begin to understand and question our minds by seeing what we actually are thinking….she also starts with what we mean when we define “shame”.
Long ago, when I was an active bulimic, eating and vomiting and starving and over-exercising and binge-eating again, I not only was in terrible pain about this strange cycle with food, but also I did everything in the world to cover up the fact that I was having this sick relationship with eating.
I pretended to the cashier at the grocery store that I was about to cook for a big dinner party. I smiled happily to my friends and said I already ate because I had just binged and purged a few hours before and couldn’t handle ordering a meal. I turned on the water to the bath tub or shower really loudly while I made myself throw up, so no one would hear. I drove from one fast-food place to the next ordering “normal” amounts at each one.
It was like there were eyes everywhere potentially seeing me and what a disgusting person I was.
Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.~Brene Brown
It seems that this sense of wanting desperately to avoid rejection, to never fail, to not show unlikable parts, expose our imperfections, or reveal our flaws is all wrapped up in shame.
I know that the MORE I wanted to avoid rejection, the more afraid I was of getting criticized for my flaws, the bigger my shame was. The bigger the need to cover my trail and keep those ugly parts of myself a secret.
Now, I allow myself to think through this process in a slow, meditative, open way. This began with seeing a counselor many, many years ago and discovering how incredible it was to speak my innermost thoughts out loud to another human and not see them turn away in horror.
SHAME is faster than a speeding bullet. When it is triggered there is a feeling in the gut of being punched. It hurts. There is huge resistance to what is and an enormous belief that I am bad, stupid and wrong. Worthy of absolute rejection.
Staying here with what happened…without taking the shame so freakin’ seriously…I get to look at the behavior, the thoughts, the moment of shame, the trigger. I get to ask myself the truth of the situation, and see if it is really true that I am the scum of the earth.
Someone once passed me a note as I shared in a 12 Step meeting. The note said “It is a form of negative grandiosity to hate yourself so much. You are loved and worthy. You are a human being.”
That’s when the adventure begins.
If I am NOT actually a horrid, awful, putrid, bad person….then what could be going on for me when I’m doing those painful things? What am I thinking in those moments? What am I really afraid of?
Byron Katie speaks with great compassion of the people who kill, lie, steal, cheat, and deeply hurt other people in this world. They are simply believing their thoughts. They are not looking with clarity at the whole situation, at their minds.
I love that questioning my thinking means I am moving away from shame, into reality. I am aware that I am allowed to be here. In fact, I belong and am acceptable, because I am here. No other “reason” is necessary.
Everyone else is allowed to be here, too.
“The Work is not about shame or blame. It’s not about proving that you are the one in the wrong or forcing yourself to believe that someone else is in the right. The power of the turnaround lies in the discovery that everything you think you see on the outside is really a projection of your own mind. Everything is a mirror image of your own thinking.”~Byron Katie
Without shame about my history with food and eating….I notice that I began to ask myself what else was going on, what else was I thinking, feeling and believing?
Who would you be without the thought that the way you have been is bad, wrong or evil? Who would you be without the thought that having a flaw MEANS you are unworthy of acceptance or belonging?
Can you not reject yourself, in this situation? That is all that is necessary to change everything.
I know, because it happened to me.
Turning Relationship Hell To Heaven In-Person Intensive Seattle 12/1 Noon – 6 pm.
Horrible Food Wonderful Food Weekend In-Person Intensive Seattle January 12-13, 2013 Saturday 10 – 5:30, Sunday 1:30-5:30. To register for either weekend workshop, click here!Fill in the workshop fee after you click the Buy button at the bottom of the page. You can use paypal or any credit card (you don’t need a paypal account).
Mark your calendar for Breitenbush, the end of June! We will be looking at all aspects of what we consider to be flaws in the body, and Un-doing our beliefs about them. Stay tuned if you’d like to join me and Susan Grace Beekman from June 26-30, 2013. You can change your internal beliefs about what you think bodies should be like….and change your entire experience of being in yours.