On March 8, 2014, my colleague Eric Freiman-Polli from Boston and I are co-leading an event in Vancouver, BC entitled “From Coal to Diamond: Shining Love on Our Stories of Shame”. Last night I listened to a recent Brené Brown video where she was very clear that she – yes, she! – and all of us humans are not immune to shame. It is human. It is who we are.
Also last night, in response to a friend’s post on a private site on Facebook, I revealed that I had been secretly suffering, and when I woke up this morning, I felt the squirm of discomfort, that solar plexus panic. Now “they” (my intimates actually), will know this tender place in me. They will all know the thing that gets the shame moving in me like nobody’s business. I wrote about the impact of stress and how it causes me to overeat. I told on myself.
Shame is such a curious emotion. It can take us out. It can make us want to hide, run, throw up. It is the place where we can turn our backs on ourselves and and leave that poor vulnerable self naked and alone and terrified. We shame and tell ourselves about our lack of value and worthiness and we get very stingy with self-forgivieness. It is madness and yet we do it.
Vulnerability precedes shame. First we admit the issue to ourselves, we tell others, and then shame comes slinking in like fog on its big belly.
So what now? We rescue that poor vulnerable naked person. We tell her that we have her back, that we will not abandon her. She probably feels like a 5 year-old shaking in a corner for something she did not mean to do, with no loving arms to soothe her, to tell her that all is well.
Pema Chodron writes: “The next time you lose heart and you can’t bear to experience what you’re feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves. This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering—yours, mine, and that of all living beings.”
It is a good thing to learn how to soothe our tender hearts in our own way. To reason with ourselves if possible. To reach out to others who love us completely and unconditionally. To let ourselves know that our worth is in the realm of the sacred. Yes, the sacred.
Do you know how sacred your worth is? Dare you dip your big toe into knowing it? I dare you.