Day 37: Shame is a cover-up. It hides perceived imperfection at the expense of revealing your true shameless glory.
Let’s be clear. Shame is not about having a healthy conscience or feeling guilty for a transgression. In fact, the role of guilt in its healthy emotional expression is the inner admission “I made a mistake.” Shame, on the other hand delivers the spirit-destroying message “I am a mistake.”
Shame is rooted deeply in our collective memory — when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden and ate the apple from the tree of knowledge, their first encounter with this knowledge was shame at their nakedness. This story truly hints at what ails the collective soul of humanity. We all suffer an existential shame at who we are beneath our coverings, from actual body shame to the shame of our perceived imperfections as persons with personalities.
According to storyteller and researcher Brene Brown the two underlying messages shame delivers are: “I am never good enough” and “Who do you think you are?”
This sense of “there is something wrong with me” is met by the survival urge to hide this flawed wrongness in the name of belonging. In the same way a leper might hide the illness to avoid exile, so too do we hide our suspicion we are deficient or not-enough as we are. It’s as if we are wired for shame.
Yet the existential truth is so far from this misperception of smallness. My own reminder of this truth, is this Rumi quote that ends every one of my emails.
Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.
This ecstatic motion looks like play, joy, wonder, magic, self-trust and creative risk taking.
And shame looks like this: perfectionism, desire for power and control, secrecy, addiction, suicide, rage and continual self comparison. These are some of the damaging side effects of unhealed shame. These coping mechanisms can alleviate symptoms but do not resolve the underlying feeling of being somehow deeply defective.
There are so many ways shame becomes embedded in your personal story I won’t go into it in this short assignment. And the purpose of this magic challenge is not to create a therapy couch were we dig into the past, but rather to simply identify blocks to magic and to learn accelerated ways of dissolving them.
In his book, the mind-body code Dr. Mario Martinez prescribes honor as an antidote to shame.
To engage honor in your life is to rewire the hidden program that keeps you crouched in smallness for fear of being seen as flawed. The best place to begin the healing practice of honor, is with yourself. When you put your own needs first in a self-honoring way, you tell your unconscious mind you are not only good, but good enough…good enough to deserve the VIP treatment of self-loving and self-cherishing choices.
The practice of tenderly honoring yourself is a first step in regaining your innate sense that you are okay just as you are. As this sense of shamelessness begins to blossom and the desire to hide begins to dissolve, you become available to the courage of vulnerability. Vulnerability cannot co-exist with shame because in being vulnerable you are wiling to be naked without that fig-leaf coverup.
- Do one thing today that is self honoring. How did it make you feel? Can you accept your inherent worth, that you are deserving of this honor? Keep practicing! And remember, you are doing this to make space for more magic in your life.
- Watch this talk, Daring Greatly, by pioneer in the field of vulnerability, Brene Brown.