This shame stuff – it matters.
In our psyches…
In our relationships...
And in our world…
It keeps us small, revealing only a half-version of ourselves -- our bright hearts, tender humanity, and courageous dreams locked away in the closet, collecting dust for years on end.
It keeps us from recognizing and opening to the love-filled relationships that are our birthright.
It keeps us defended and in fear of acknowledging and talking openly about racism, sexism, and all the other isms that degrade our own and one another's humanity.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share with you three practices for healing and transforming shame – in ourselves and in our relationships, so that we can ask and find out: what’s possible in this life?
Here are three tips to get you started in life’s more challenging moments, when our inner critics tend to flare and glare:
1) Notice your thoughts about yourself as just that – thoughts
Notice your thoughts as distinct from reality, prefacing each one with “I’m telling myself that…” E.g., “I’m telling myself that I’m not enough for this person. I’m telling myself I need to try harder, to be bigger, better, more ‘together,’ and more attractive. I’m telling myself I’ve screwed up, that I don’t know how to ‘do’ relationships. I’m telling myself I’m missing the relationship gene.”
When we put this little “spacer” in there of “I’m telling myself,” there arises the possibility – even if slim! – on the horizon that maybe, just maybe, we’re in delusion.
2) Offer yourself mercy
Part a) notice you’re wobbly and/or off your rocker. Part b) put a hand on your head or heart (wherever there is more energy) and say to yourself simply, “Mercy.” Offer yourself compassion for your humanity.
Oh, what a different world this would be if all of us took a moment now and then to offer ourselves some mercy! Imagine the swords and shields dropped, and all the human care, collaboration, and creativity that could blossom in their place.
3) Dare to love – yes love! – your needs, wants, and desires
Try on the language of “I really love _____, “ “____ is important to me,” “______ matters to me.” (Fill in the blank with needs like choice, self-confidence, self-love and self-trust, a sense of resting in myself)
Your needs are universal, after all, and are the nature of life itself reaching for nourishment, wanting to thrive and live fully. Your needs are beautiful, ye dear human, and oh-so-worthy of celebrating.
Try these three practices on next time your inner shamer is running amok in your psyche, and notice what, if anything, happens.
Stay tuned for parts II and III over the next two weeks, where we’ll explore what’s possible in our relationships when our shame gremlins have permission to get off the perfection treadmill and take a long drink at the mercy well.
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