This blog post speaks to both women and men, but I do wish to point out the fact that this topic is especially relevant to women as a whole, given our generational upbringing. Therefore, if both genders would please excuse that hypothesis in the first paragraph only, there is some deep wisdom on the topic here that can be gained by all of us.
Women as a whole carry a disproportionate amount of shame. So much of it isn’t even ours to carry, but because we are conditioned to just do what needs to be done, and meet other’s needs, we take it on in order to ease another’s burden. As time goes on, we learn to take it on in all sorts of unproductive ways, opening the door and letting it in over and over again. We become accustomed to just leaving the door wide open to welcome shame, without ever stopping to ask ourselves if it is even ours, if we need to let it in, or if it is a desired constant houseguest.
How many of us carry shame from our families of origin, both others’ true shame, and also for things no one actually needed to feel shame for? It might be shame that was actually another member of the family’s to carry. But no matter, we picked it up and threw it on our backs out of purpose, or maybe even blame, because another family member couldn’t take responsibility for their own actions. On the other side of the coin, perhaps the shame stemmed from failure to succeed in one way or another; unproductive shame that was not anyone’s to rightfully carry, but continued to be passed on throughout the generations.
Shame is useful when it makes us think twice before doing unkind or unethical things. It is also useful when it causes someone who made a mistake to take responsibility, make amends, and change their behavior. Because our society is not set up to handle atonement and reconciliation in ways that aren’t doused in excessive shame, however, productive shame is many times too large for a person to be able to take on. But when someone refuses to take responsibility for their behavior because either the shame or threat of shame is too great, often times we pick some of it up to ease their burden and lighten their load.
Although this may seem noble, where then does this shame go? This unproductive shame is stored in our individual unconscious, and sometimes then the collective unconscious, and keeps us from being our full, shiny, capable selves. It also takes away an opportunity for the person whose shame it is to take responsibility for their actions and heal themselves and anyone they may have hurt. Perhaps a better idea would be to create a healthier system where atonement and reconciliation are handled in ways that aren’t doused in excessive shame (but more on that in a later discussion).
Shame that isn’t ours to carry holds us back from bringing our true gifts into the world, as we are afraid of what we will look like if we fail. In addition to shame that isn’t ours to carry, shame from failure to achieve a goal is also a form of unproductive shame. It doesn’t serve a useful purpose, and we don’t have to say yes to it. Just like shame for being different than others, having a physical or mental challenge, or any other form of not seeming to be ‘right’ by certain societal standards, shame from failure is not real shame, and only robs ourselves and society of the unique gifts we are here to offer.
Failure is not a productive reason to feel shame. Failure means we stepped outside our comfort zone and tried to bring into form something we were lead by our soul to follow. Failure means we’re on the right track. Failure means we tried. And many times failure is caused by things that were completely outside of our control. The only true failure in this example is to not rise up again and continue to follow the path we know is true, even when it deals us challenges. These ‘failures,’ just like any other ways we may not seem to be acceptable by society, are not reasons to feel shame, they are merely opportunities to strengthen our relationship with ourselves by choosing whether or not we’re going to allow them to add more shame to the disproportionate amount we are already carrying, and whether or not we are going to let them define our worth.
Our worth can only be taken from us if we choose to deem ourselves unworthy. It is always our choice.
If someone overpowered you in the past because of their lack of self-worth, do not let that diminish yours. They were trying to steal from you what could never truly work for them. It’s like someone other than the chosen person trying to steal and use the sword in the stone in order to fill themselves with worth and power. It will never work. Power and worth that are not cultivated on the inside and from the deep knowing that we are not separate from all that is, will never last. It will never satiate the hunger someone’s soul feels from not being secure in their own worth, for not saying ‘yes’ to themselves.
So it seems to me that we have three choices when it comes to being faced with the tendency to take on shame for unproductive reasons: we can diminish ourselves, shrink down and hide, and deem ourselves less worthy; we can try to get it off of us by acting out against someone or something else and attempting to transfer it to them; or we can just say, “No thank you.” when presented with the choice to take it in or not.
Unproductive shame hurts all of us, and we don’t have to continue to say yes to it.
#youareworthy #stopthemadness #riseup #truepower #beyoutiful