A+ A A-

Mindfully Letting Go of Shame

Mindfully Letting Go of Shame

“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” 

― Pema Chodron

I was talking with a friend yesterday who is going through a very hard time, and of all the emotions that have come up for them during this struggle (anger, despair, etc.), shame has been the most challenging emotion of all.

We all feel shame, and it’s perfect OK to feel it. There’s nothing wrong with us if we feel shame — it’s a very human emotion.

But it isn’t very helpful in most situations, and so we can bring mindfulness to bear on the shame. And practice letting it go.

Before we can let go, it’s worthwhile to mindfully work with our shame.

What Shame Shows Us

When I said shame isn’t very helpful, I didn’t tell the full truth — actually, it’s very useful, in showing us what we think about ourselves.

When we feel shame, it usually is because we’ve done something that we think says something shameful about us. And so it shows us where we believe there is something wrong about us, something inadequate, ugly, unworthy of love.

Of course, that believe is not true. But in order to let go of that ingrained belief, we have to see it first. Shame shows us where that belief lies hidden.

I’ll give some examples from my own life:

  • I’ve been overeating lately (an old habit of mine), which has led me to feeling overweight and not sexy. This has brought up feelings of shame about my body and lack of discipline. The shame says that I believe I’m ugly and undisciplined, and therefore inadequate and unworthy of love.
  • I went through a very busy period lately where I dropped all of my cherished habits for a few weeks, like exercise and meditation and accountability. This brought up shame for not (again) being disciplined, but also not practicing what I preach. The shame says that I believe I’m undisciplined, an imposter, inadequate.
  • I felt a lot of shame when I fell into debt. This brought up shame that showed my belief of being bad at finances, bad at taking care of my family, bad at being a father and provider. And again, inadequacy and unworthiness of being loved. In the end, the core belief is that we are inadequate and unworthy of being loved. But the reason we believe those is that we believe we haven’t lived up to some expectation: being successful, being lean, being disciplined, being generous, being a contributor to society, being environmentally conscious, etc. The expectations are in our minds, but they were given to us by society’s messaging, since birth. These expectations and beliefs are not so solid as we believe. Once we can see them, we can bring mindfulness practices to work with them. Mindfully Working with the Beliefs That Cause Shame It can be helpful to write down the beliefs that are causing us to feel shame, or to speak them aloud (perhaps to another person, like a trusted friend or therapist). Getting them out of our heads helps us to get clear on them. And sometimes saying them out loud can make them feel a little silly. I’ve found that true for myself — saying a belief out loud to another person takes away some of its power, maybe shows me how hard I am on myself. So once we’ve said it out loud or written it down, let’s look at how to bring mindfulness practices into the equation:
  • Let yourself feel the shame. We don’t often let ourselves actually feel this emotion, because we don’t like it. Instead, open your heart and actually feel the shame in your body. Be curious about it: what does it feel like? Where is it located in your body? What temperature, texture, flavor does it have? See it with brand new eyes, with beginner’s mind.
  • Ask yourself whether the belief is true. If you believe you’re undisciplined, ask youself, “Is it true that I’m undisciplined?” It might feel very true and solid, but in asking this question, let there be space for the possibility that it’s not true at all, or at least not completely true. Have you ever been a little disciplined? Are there examples you can point to where the belief wasn’t entirely true? Let the belief feel less solid.
  • See your basic goodness. If at the heart of our shame is the belief that we’re somehow inadequate, not good enough … then it’s worthwhile to see that actually we are good. We have a basic goodness at our core. Do this meditation on your basic goodness, and start to trust that this goodness is there all the time.
  • Give yourself compassion & love. If you have a belief that you are unworthy of love … you can immediately disprove that by giving yourself love. First, practice the muscle of love & compassion by feeling it for someone else. Imagine someone you love dearly, and picture them having difficulty — send them compassion, a genuine wish for their suffering to end, a genuine wish for their happiness. Feel what this feels like, and where it’s coming from in your heart. Next, try it for yourself: pour out the same feelings of love & compassion from the same place in your heart, but towards yourself. You are suffering as well, and deserve your own love & compassion. Feel how it feels, and let this be proof that you are worthy of love. If you practice in this way, you might start to loosen your beliefs that cause shame, and let yourself feel trust in your basic goodness and worthiness of love. And if you do that, the shame might start to drift away, not needed any longer. What would you be left with if you didn’t have the shame?

Zen Habits is about finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness. My name is Leo Babauta. I live in Davis, California with my wife and six kids, where I eat vegan food, write, run, and read. Source

CrystalWind.ca is free to access and use.
"Would you consider a small gift of $11.11 ?" :)
ॐ Namasté - Blessings!
"Life is an echo, what you send out comes back."

© 2008-2019 crystalwind.ca. All rights reserved.

Pin It

Featured Writers

Featured This Month

Page:

Winter Solstice - A Season of Giving

Winter Solstice - A Season of Giving

CELEBRATING THE WINTER SOLSTICE The December solstice is also known as the ... Read more

Azurite

Azurite

The Mental Purger Stone The dark brilliance of azurite speeds the vibratio... Read more

The Elder Tree - November 25 - December 22

The Elder Tree - November 25 - December 22

The Winter Solstice ( Alban Arthuan ) Celtic Symbol : The Black Horse Or Th... Read more

Sagittarius

Sagittarius

Nov 23 - Dec 21 Spirit: Meeting competition Ego: Independent, studious, in... Read more

Yule Blessings

Yule Blessings

Yule The Winter Solstice or Yule is one of the Lesser Wiccan Sabbats, and i... Read more

Yule By The Hedgewitch

Yule By The Hedgewitch

Yule Yule is a solar festival and one of the Minor Sabbats. This is when th... Read more

Turquoise

Turquoise

The Master Healer Stone As a blue stone with a hint of green, turquoise wor... Read more

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli

The Wisdom Stone Lapis lazuli is a deep balancer, and works ... Read more

Birth Totem - Owl

Birth Totem - Owl

Birth Totem Owl Birth dates: November 23 - December 21 Birth Totem: Owl C... Read more

Lunar Phases And Correspondences

Lunar Phases And Correspondences

Lunar Phases The lunar phase is important in determining the best time for ... Read more

Long Snows Moon

Long Snows Moon

Elk – Obsidian – Black Spruce – Black November 22 to December 21 The Long ... Read more

Sagittarius Mythology

Sagittarius Mythology

The Sagittarius Myth Other than Virgo, the Sagittarius myth is probably the... Read more

Yule

Yule

Yule Ritual Celebrated on the Winter Solstice, around December 21 each year.... Read more

Obsidian

Obsidian

The Protection Stone As a stone that emerges with dramatic force from the d... Read more

Sun in Sagittarius

Sun in Sagittarius

An Overview of Sun Sign Characteristics for Sagittarius At the heart of Sagit... Read more

© 2008-2019 CrystalWind.ca. Site Creation by CreativeInceptions.com.
X

Right Click

No right click