I was recently invited to be part of a small group of women who have embarked on a 10-day Whispers from Within writing process on the topic of ‘shame’. I am always willing to say ‘yes’ to such an exploration as I hold shame as the most destructive force for shaping culture that underpins the parenting process. The destroyer of souls! That which causes potential to evaporate and forces a deep surrender to what we come to hold as the inevitable path of our lives. And the saddest part? None of it is true.
I chose the image for this post because it displays our experience of shame in all of its stunning effect! Such a powerful, dark, overwhelming image of our reality! And yet, if you lean in and look carefully, you will see elements of life, living. Shame can sometimes overwhelm and seem to encompass it all, and yet we can – if we so choose – look through the shame to find a more powerful and enduring truth about ourSelves: we are designed to find magnificence through our imperfection. That is how we unfold into the evolution of our own potential.
I share with you some thoughts that I shared with this group. Perhaps they will hold some meaning for you as you ponder your own relationship with ‘shame’.
“Ah yes…. perspective.
Over my many years of living this way, perhaps the greatest irritation/frustration/annoyance/anger from participants has been in the recognition that the answer is always ‘yes’. The answer is always ‘yes’ in the seeming contradictions of the need to have boundaries and collapse boundaries. In the need to speak and be silent. The need to stay and the need to walk away. In truth, no matter what the question, the ‘yes’ comes from the exploration of ‘it depends’… because both are always true.
Perhaps our greatest enemy of evolution is in attending to the ‘event/content’ when where the power lies is in the process of determining what we attend to.
When our wounding remains unclaimed, we see everything through the eyes of the wound. When the wounding is brought home and all its aspects become cherished, we see through the eyes of the healed.
It does indeed, become tiring to tend to our multiplicity of wounds, one wound at a time. Imagine if we were to allow ourselves a process that could make it possible for a wound, once revealed, to cherish that wound and all other attending wounds, in one breath. We are indeed, that powerful.
I think that we sometimes get stuck when we have no sense of what to do with ourselves once we are unstuck. Like 12-step: I’ve seen so many ‘fall off the wagon’ when they became bored with their ‘wellness’ and found attending meetings to be tedious… yet terrified to not attend meetings. Off the wagon they go, that they might have something meaningful and compelling to discuss. It is the reason that Manifesting a Meaningful Life was developed to follow Engaging… that we might find something compelling and provocative and meaningful to do with ourselves rather than slide back into the ever-available pool of misery from which to draw in the Engaging process. Moving forward is and always has been and always will be a tougher climb than sliding back. The back-slide already has momentum… and it is one we know only too well.
Perhaps our individual and collective ’shame’ (a label we put on a familiar and frequently shared inner charge) presents when we are confronted with being in a place where we really have no clue how to move forward in our deep desire for that same movement. Perhaps it is not a forward movement that is required. It is less about a linear progression and more about a ‘billowing’… like ripples off a pebble going into a pond. We no longer move forward or backward…we simply emanate. We spread out from the Source that each of us is…. and in that spreading out, that which we move over/beyond becomes a part of us, in some way. That emanation has no goals to attain, no success to achieve, no outcomes to project. It only has its own movement, in ripples, moving out…. What does THAT life look like in a ‘reality’ that is structured/revolves around all the other?”
Shame need not be our constant companion through life. We need not receive the shame that is handed to us by others. Nor must be hold onto that shame long-ago layered into our reality. We can choose a very different path for ourselves and our children. I cannot think of a single moment – for myself or any other – when shame has been the source for growth or evolution. Maybe that’s a clue….