I recently spent 2 months in India at a meditation retreat, meditating about 5 hours a day. During the remaining day I was diving deep inside with an inexhaustible curiosity to get to know my Self at even deeper and vaster levels.
I certainly also enjoyed the amazingness of Mother India. Amidst all the poverty, dirt, noise and heat, She is precious. She is oh, so precious and part of me just can’t get enough of Her.
India is my Heart. She helps me sink deeper into my Being – just by Being there. She makes it easy to just Be Me and let go of what is ‘not-me’.
Every day I was getting up at 4:45AM with a big smile on my face, got on my bike and slowly peddled through a few small villages on my way to the first meditation at 6AM.
I can go on and on about India, but for now I’ll continue the inspiration that prompted this article if indeed Self Love can overcome shame.
When you take out 2 months of your busy life, immerse yourSelf in India and solely focus on your Divine Self and the boulders that stand in the way of Its full Expression, you can be sure to encounter some biggies that have dimmed your Light. Equally, you can be sure to leave with a much lighter baggage, replaced by a Heart filled with insights and Love.
One of these boulders that I was blessed to experience and liberate, was indeed a biggie, and I am now so aware how this specific one is deeply prevalent and ingrained in our society. It colors and motivates our actions and stops us from shining our Light. I encountered the feeling of shame that has lived in me my whole life and which I’d never really taken the time to experience and explore like I did in India.
There Is Something Fundamentally Wrong With Me!
Just prior to the shame boulder, I ran into a similar, but smaller version of it, as if it were the precursor for what was to come: “There is something fundamentally wrong with me!”
This one surprised me, Knowing mySelf as I do today. It certainly didn’t match my experience of mySelf anymore after so much deep inner work and healing. Yet, here it was! It felt like a lingering ghost still trying to scare me, but it didn’t. It didn’t bring up an emotional charge or resistance. This of course made it a lot easier for me to allow space for it and meet it with curiosity. I shared the revelation of this boulder with my newly met Friends in India, joked a little about it and moved on.
I often hear myself say: “I can’t Feel it!” when something doesn’t resonate inside. This is my cue that I don’t need to spend a lot of time there and can just move on. That’s what this one felt like: “I just can’t Feel it.” I could move on.
Feeling Ashamed Of Feeling Shame
I moved on … Little did I know what came right in its wake: the boulder of shame. That one didn’t go so readily. I recognized it as an old ‘friend’ from the past, who still wanted something from me. This one I could Feel and it didn’t Feel good!
I wasn’t able to meet it with the same openness as I did the ‘fundamentally wrong with me.’ I felt shame about this feeling of shame. As strange as it may sound, I felt ashamed to feel shame and this caused a strong contraction in my body. Shame wants to hide and is often accompanied by a contraction in the body as a way to keep it down and keep it secret. This makes it harder to allow space for it and to lovingly get curious about it. I could Feel the contraction and I could Feel the urge to hide it. I couldn’t move on.
If you have ever felt shame, you know there is something you want to hide and the last thing would be to admit it to yourself or others. Contracting around this feeling helps keep it down and out of sight – at least for the moment. It does not help liberate it.
Since I am now well past the initial contraction, I unashamedly admit that I felt ashamed to admit to my fellow meditation buddies that I felt shame. I can chuckle about it now.
Yet, the question: “Ashamed of what?” remains.
I Felt Ashamed To Be Me!
Yes, I felt ashamed to Be the beautiful, wonderful, lovely me, that I am! I felt ashamed to Be me!
How is it even possible to be ashamed of my Self? What else can I possibly Be but Me?
When I get curious about it like that, I see it from a new perspective and honestly, it doesn’t make Sense. However that new view gives me the space to go a little deeper, so I can listen to and learn from the part that feels shame and how it does make sense to it.
I am not a newbie on this path, for Heaven’s sake, I am a certified Hakomi Practitioner with an abundance of hours having ‘been Hakomied’ myself. I call myself a Self Love Mentor and am really good at being kind, compassionate, loving and considerate to myself and to honor what is important to me. I literally never judge or criticize myself anymore nor do I ever beat myself up if I make a mistake. I’ve learned well and I live my message of Self Love to the very best of my ability and always feel open to expand when I am up against the next layer. So Being able to Flow with the next unfolding boulder, I let my curiosity lead the way and stay open to listen and learn.
(Just for the record: Being Loving to yourSelf doesn’t mean there aren’t anymore unconscious layers inside where you are not Loving yourSelf. When you know True Self Love, shaming or blaming yourself for not yet Loving all of yourSelf cannot co-exist.)
How Can Compassion And Shame Co-exist?
Well, as I just shared with you, my next boulder showed up in India and it was a biggie. I met it with an immense amount of compassion … as well as plenty of shame! It was a funny mix.
Did you know that these two seeming opposites can actually co-exist as long as you allow space for both of them and don’t try to get rid of either?
That’s part of the power of True Self Love: You stay open and allow it to surface first (i.e. you don’t judge or blame yourself for the remaining unconscious layers as they surface.) What you allow, you can listen to, and what you listen to, you can learn from. You can read more about the issue of how to be present with seeming opposites in my first book on Self Love: “Image Being Kind To YourSelf.”
So back in India, I first had to allow space for the contraction of ‘the shame of feeling shame’ with compassion and openness before I could listen and learn. After I took the time to do that, I didn’t feel the need to hide it anymore and was able to talk about it openly with my Friends. It was no longer a secret I felt ashamed of. It had now become a conscious layer that I was curious about, wanted to listen to, wanted to learn from.
Trying To Hide Shame
When I grew up, I was quite familiar with the feeling of shame. I used to blush just by people looking at me. I blushed a lot and felt so ashamed of it, but I didn’t know what to do with it at that age. I didn’t have the experience nor skills that I have today, so I would try to hide me (good luck!) by not saying much – or be loud to divert the attention away from my face, laugh shyly or loudly, still hoping not to be seen, and by Golly, I would judge myself. Inside I kept this shameful occurrence locked down in my subconscious as a well kept secret.
What I didn’t know back then was that trying to hide it or judge myself for it kept the shame well fed. Those were also the days before I know that Self Love and Self Compassion softens any contraction over time.
How To Feed Shame And How To Starve It
After I made it through the initial contraction, it felt good to come out of secrecy and share it in a safe, loving environment. I noticed some nodding heads, admitting they were familiar with the feeling.
Now that the shame was out of the box and I was able to explore it deeper, my curiosity grew: What the heck is shame? What is it beyond a very uncomfortable debilitating feeling? I went online and found some good info.
I listened to Brene Brown’s TED talk about vulnerability and shame to learn about the research she had done on this subject. Here’s the conclusion of the talk: “If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”
Oh, how I could relate! I Loved the confirmation.
Can Self Love Overcome Shame?
So to answer the question “Can Self Love Help Overcoming Shame?” the answer is a clear YES!
Now that the monster was out of the box, I could see it’s not a monster at all. It’s a little adorable girl who never received any loving words, acknowledgment or encouragement from her father. Bless his Heart, he only knew how to shame and blame when it came to parenting. “You should be ashamed of yourself!” was a common parental instruction that I received on a regular basis.
Oh, OK! Even though I wasn’t sure what that meant or why I should do that, I sure got the message clearly that I should be ashamed of mySelf. So I did! Is it any wonder that I carried another boulder on top called “There is something fundamentally wrong with me.” I carried that with me my whole life in a little secret box inside my belly, trying to hide it and me from the world. A natural conclusion from a little girl who repetitively was told that she should be ashamed of herSelf, could only be that there had to be something fundamentally wrong with her, right?
I’m listening. I’m learning. I’m Loving Her!
More To Explore
There is a lot more to the story of shame and I know I won’t do it justice in this little article. So let’s resume in a next article. If you have any questions to explore, please post them below or email me at Pernilla@DivineFeminineFlow.com, and I promise you we’ll make space for them in the follow up article. I wrote another article awhile back called The Contraction Of Shame that you may enjoy.
I trust this article is giving you a good Sense that there is a way out of shame, and hope you feel the courage to open up your little secret box to yourself and see what unfolds.
Please let me know if you have any questions on this subject so we can explore them next time. Your comments are welcome too.