2016 is my year to shed shame! It’s one of my top goals for the year because it’s in my way, and I’ve got people to see and places to go. Shame is actually a roadblock to my achieving all of the things I want to achieve – personally and professionally. Shame is in the way of every relationship I own.
Shame has been my constant companion for as far back as I can remember, but not my friend. I think shame thinks of itself as my friend. Shame thinks it’s helping me, doing an important, and useful job by keeping me small and “safe.” It’s intention is thoughtful. But shame is no kind of friend to have. Shame gets between me and everything, and everyone. Shame messes with my relationships. It messes with my self confidence and joy, and it messes with my personal interactions by making me feel resentful, jealous, and defensive. It gets in the way of my desires by making me feel small, unworthy, afraid and unsure. It’s time for shame to go.
So, what do we do? How do we shed shame? We do what we do in any relationship. We greet shame warmly. We are honest with shame and acknowledge it with open eyes and an open heart, and then we talk to it. We tell shame that this relationship has run its course. It’s over! This relationship is no longer serving us so we’d like shame to leave. Gather up all of its belongings and gently close the door on its way out, never to darken the doorstep again.It’s been a long and deep relationship, so shame is not likely to go that easily. It will call, stop by, surprise us when we least expect it and try with all its might to hold on. Shame is determined. Shame is relentless. Shame has false purpose and deep resolve.
But we’ll set boundaries and be more determined, unequivocal and kind, and shame will slowly release its hold and drift away. When shame rears its ugly head, feel it for a moment, acknowledge it, thank it for its time and say a no nonsense, clear and concise “Good bye. Thank you for your concern and thanks for the memories, but Adios! I no longer need your services, I won’t be living my life under your shroud for a moment more.”
It’s a process. Shedding shame will take time and practice, but it’s worth the effort. In the early morning hours, cold and dark, a bus driver flashed her lights at me. – a universal signal to turn on my lights. With shame as my co-pilot I’d have been miffed. I’d have said to myself, “Who are you to tell me what to do? I’ll turn on my lights if I darn well please, when I’m darn well ready and maybe not at all. I’ll decide if I need lights!” Because I’d have felt wrong for not having had them on already. If I were coming from a place of shame I’d have been embarrassed, shut down and defensive. But I wasn’t. I had shed shame, at least for the moment. My daughter was my co-pilot, not shame. So, I smiled, waved, thanking her for her consideration and happily flicked on my lights.