Quick: what comes to mind when you hear the phrase four-letter word?
What about: five-letter word?
It’s not one of those new words that probably won’t last—like fleek, for example. This one’s gonna be familiar.
The word is SHAME. And as I continue to explore and un-mute all the bits that comprise me, I find that at times, the threats to my joy and peace are often led or inspired by that five-letter word, Shame.
Shame can cause us to focus outward, away from ourselves, in a particularly deceptive way. We focus on “the thing that shamed us” instead of the feeling of being shamed. Sometimes, shame is not about a feeling brought on by words or actions forced upon us by someone else. Instead, it is about a feeling of intense vulnerability, highlighted by someone else’s words or actions, prompting us to put up the protective armor we call Shame.
Shame is a shield we put up to prevent full exposure. We feel it at the start of something that may be exposed, pried open, or discussed—all without our permission.
This is why I’ve never connected with the old adage that people can only make you feel bad if you give them permission. I know for a fact that I didn’t give all my past and future shame-bringers permission to give me that feeling. I also know for a fact that sometimes, the person has nothing to do with my feelings. Their words brought up feelings that cause me to feel shame. For me, shame is worse than judgment. I can usually shake the feeling of judgment, but rarely can I move past what shame brings about for me: feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, lack of clarity, indecisiveness, the mama of all four-letter words, Fear.
However shame comes into our lives, its presence is almost never ignorable. And thankfully, it is also rarely ever a long-term feeling. I can recall a particularly heavy experience I had with Shame. I didn’t know it back then, but that experience was an integral part of my transition into womanhood. It was the first time I recall ever consciously deciding that I needed to “fix” something about myself.
But the danger with that fix-a-feeling dilemma is that it only addresses the symptom (shame) and not the cause (you tell me!). Whether it’s pointed toward someone else, or toward our own feelings, shame causes us to either lash out or retreat inward.
To lash out or to retreat are both options, and I don’t believe that those options are inherently wrong or definitely right. We feel our feelings and we do our best–that’s the reality. But there are other options that are equally realistic and bring more desirable results. One of those options is the #RadicalSelfie way: to examine the experience, explore the feelings, and pray, write, cry, and question our way toward a different experience.
What do you do when you want to work on a feeling?
My longtime blogging homie and fellow Lightworker, Jamie Fleming-Dixon, created a beautifully simple resource for those of us who make it a practice to feel through our experiences with presence and purpose. It’s a gem of a digital workbook called Create Your Most Fab Life. It has inspirational reminders and simple exercises designed to help women work through limiting beliefs, discover their purpose and create a vision/plan for their lives.
I went through some of the exercises and found myself in a beautifully contemplative space as a result of it. I also appreciated the simplicity of the workbook because it didn’t call for me to do a bunch of steps to get to what I wanted. Grab a copy and make space for yourself to be guided through the process of feeling through your feelings.