Most people believe that if only they would solve the problems in their life, all would be wonderful. For some it’s lack of money, lack of time or lack of communication in their relationships that stand in the way of their happiness. The list is long. For those of us living with chronic illness it’s likely that our issues are being unable to take part in a work we enjoy, a social life, a love life, engaging with our family or anyone for that matter. They could come from being bed-bound, housebound, or barely functioning in the outside world.
But those are life situations, not real problems. There is a difference in that we really can’t avoid life situations; everyone’s got one after another all through life.
We’ve previously looked at some real problems that we can overcome because they are within: Tunnel vision, fear, confusion and guilt.
These real “problems” (i.e. opportunities for growth) and the solutions I suggested are signposts for you to consider as you strive to live with a more peaceful heart while you enhance your unique abilities to lift your spirit and general wellness. Now, let’s explore an energy-consuming problem that so many of us share and see what we can do to get free of it.
Real problem #5: Shame
This is the belief that we are worth less than others, that we have terrible and permanent flaws. Shame is different from guilt because even when we have done nothing wrong, we are convinced that we are fundamentally bad.
We’ve all experienced the feeling of shame in specific situations when we were not at our finest. Toxic shame, however, hides in our subconscious where it is nurtured by our own thoughts, such as: I don’t matter, I’m stupid, I’m ugly, I’m selfish, I’m a fraud, no wonder nobody loves me, I’m a failure, etc. These thoughts often have their roots in childhood. When our parents chastised us for our imperfections, they unknowingly sowed seeds of shame that can take a lifetime to overcome. Unless we heal toxic shame we can experience depression, low self-esteem and an inability to accept success and joy in the personal and professional aspects of our life. Shame is a serious detriment to our well-being.
Dragon taming step #5: A clear and rational perspective
Like all unhealthy thinking and behaviors, shame can be stopped in its tracks by awakening to the moment. Stopping long enough to ask our self: “Is what I am thinking true?” is a good place to start. It can bring us to the notion that, while everyone has done something bad or stupid during the course of his or her life, nobody was created bad.
You are flawed like the rest of us, and that’s okay; those flaws of yours can actually help you get stronger and become more compassionate toward others.
- It is healthy to be vulnerable enough to own your flaws
- Want to feel empowered? Take off that mask and risk showing the real you as you learn to embrace your self
- Make it a priority to accept your limitations by recognizing and loving your capacities
- Learn to change your inner dialogue. For example: “OK, I can be forgetful but I make sure to let the people I love know that they matter; I am considerate.” Or: “I may be a bit of a talker but sometimes that opens the door to a really important conversation. I talk a lot, that’s true, but I know when to listen.”
When we remember that there really are two sides to a coin, we can stop and realize that our flaws are just the flip side of our best qualities. When we stop shaming our self for our imperfections and focus on our strengths, we begin to see that flip side in others as well.
I believe that it is important to acknowledge the shame that we carry because it tends to weigh heavily on our heart. I’ve just touched the surface with these few signposts so that you can begin to embrace your imperfections as you learn to honor the person that you are.
See you on the path of healing and beyond,
Image from the painting Solitary Confinement, by Donni Lockridge