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 This Month

Page:

Libra’s Featured Stone - Kyanite

Libra’s Featured Stone - Kyanite

Kyanite Birthstone: Libra Planet: Venus Element: Air Chakra: Throat Read more

Mabon Modern Style

Mabon Modern Style

The Mabon season begins somewhere around the 21st-22nd of September and cont... Read more

Ametrine

Ametrine

The Stone for Clearing and Change Ametrine is one of the rarest and most va... Read more

Fall Equinox Meditation and Prayer Celebrati…

Fall Equinox Meditation and Prayer Celebration

The fall or autumnal equinox marks equal hours of light and darkness, but pa... Read more

Obsidian

Obsidian

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

Sun in Libra

Sun in Libra

An Overview of Sun Sign Characteristics for Libra The ruler of Libra is Ven... Read more

Ducks Fly Moon

Ducks Fly Moon

Raven - Bloodstone Jasper - Mullein - Brown September 23 to October 23 The D... Read more

Mullein

Mullein

Helps you feel courageous and adventurous. Gender: Feminine Planet: Saturn Ele... Read more

Mabon

Mabon

Mabon Ritual Celebrated on the Autumn Equinox, around September 21 each year... Read more

Black Tourmaline

Black Tourmaline

The Negativity Remedy Stone Black Tourmaline (Schorl) is one... Read more

Lepidolite

Lepidolite

The Mental Balancer Stone Lepidolite contains lithium and is helpful for st... Read more

Libra Mythology

Libra Mythology

It's truly impossible to talk about Libra mythology without also referencing... Read more

Birth Totem - Raven or Crow

Birth Totem - Raven or Crow

Birth dates: September 22 - October 22 Birth Totem is: Raven/Crow Clan ... Read more

The Vine: September 2nd - September 29th

The Vine: September 2nd - September 29th

The Autumnal Equinox ( Alban Elfed ) Celtic Symbol : The White Swan Zodiac... Read more

Libra

Libra

Sept 23 - Oct 22 Spirit: To operate judiciously Ego: Strategist, peace see... Read more

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

Right Click

No right click