How Shame can Impact our Ability to Love Ourselves
What is Shame?: Shame encompasses a whole family of emotions including embarrassment, guilt, self-consciousness, humiliation….indeed all those times we felt bad about our selves
Socialization: Much of the shame in our bodies comes from our experiences during the first 7 years of life, when we were learning how we needed to be in order to be accepted in the world. Humans are tribal animals. Our primal brain knows we need to be accepted, especially by our mothers, in order to survive. We learn what we need to say, do, who we need to be…. in order to avoid rejection or abandonment.
So maybe you’re naturally outgoing but your Mum kept telling you to shush – you learned to be ashamed of your loudness. If relaxing or chilling out wasn’t the done thing, you learned to see it as laziness and feel ashamed every time you put your feet up . You may even have decided that you are unworthy of love unless you are productive.
Sometimes we may have been explicitly shamed – “look at the filth or your room – shame on you” or maybe we shamed ourselves when we were been taught something new. We felt stupid because we didn’t know it and maybe we decided I’m not good enough
And if we felt rejected (possibly just because Mum or Dad are preoccupied), maybe we decided we are unlovable
And as we move through life we gather the evidence that these limiting beliefs are true, every time we are embarrassed, feel guilt, feel exposed or humiliated we reinforce the false belief that we are not good enough, not worthy or not lovable.
Thorns: Michael A. Singer, author of The Untethered Soul, refers to these buried emotions and beliefs as samskara or thorns. If you’ve ever had a thorn in your finger you’ll know it doesn’t really hurt unless you touch it. That’s where triggers come in
Triggers: You’ve heard of being triggered, but what exactly does that mean? It means that someone touched your thorn. If you even think of what a trigger on a gun is. The weapon is loaded. When the trigger is pulled the ammunition comes out. We are loaded with thorns and when they are touched they want to come out……….
Parenting provides a wonderful gift as it allows us to be triggered every day. Why is that a good thing? Well this is an opportunity to release any trapped emotions or beliefs that no longer serve us……..provided we’re open to the idea
Mother Rage: I think when we experience what they call ‘mother rage’ in many instances shame is in fact the underlying emotion. One way or another the child’s behaviour is reminding us that we are inadequate or falling short of the requirements needed to be accepted in our tribe, i.e. unrealistic perfect parent standards
Shining a light on Shame. Usually if a feeling of shame is triggered in us we avoid at all costs. It’s quite yucky. Think of any time you felt embarrassed or humiliated. We’d do anything to get away from the feeling. We distract ourselves, talk ourselves out of it, eat, drink whatever. But what if we decided to shine a light on it instead?Self love Blocks
Brené Browne tells us there are 3 essential pillars to a full happy life. One is creativity, one is rest and the other is play. When it comes to creativity, rest and play how many of us prioritise these things in our lives.? Brené points out that it is shame and limiting beliefs that prevent us really loving ourselves and prioritising self-love.
Comparison, she says kills creativity. The minute we start worrying what other people think we shrink down and hide. And rest & play are very much tied into our self-worth and what other people will think (the need to be productive all the time!)
Self Love Affirmations as Triggers
If you want to know what your limiting beliefs around self-love are, try saying out loud some self-love affirmations
I am worthy, I am enough, I deeply and completely love and accept myself
Do you notice a sensation in your body? If it doesn’t feel like the truth you’ll feel an opposing vibration
And this your opportunity to release it – if you’re feeling it, it has come to the surface
Kyle Cease, the American spiritual teacher, uses two analogies that I really like and that I think can be really helpful for releasing shame
The first is the image of a haunted train ride. As you move through a dark tunnel you may see hundred or bats coming straight for you and you scream but as you reach the bats, you go right through them, and discover they were an illusion. Much like that as we look at our shame we feel really gucky and maybe afraid. Our instinct will be to run the other way (distract ourselves) but if we can go through the guckiness we’ll see it as false
The second image I love is the idea of seeing these thorns as ice cubes bobbing to the surface. As we sit with, observe, feel into the shame, we are in fact shining a loving light on it, and much like the sun on an ice cube, the ice cube starts to melt and gently re-join the loving energy of the Universe.
If you feel you would like to release shame and any limiting beliefs around self love, you may find this recorded Soothing Session helpful. You will be guided through journaling, tapping, meditation and energy healing.
Click here to purchase Soothing Session Recording