Shame: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress
caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
I was introduced to the idea of being “shame-based” sometime in the 70’s during my adolescence. I really felt something when I heard the word “shame” and it didn’t feel good at all. The mere thought that I could be shame-based sent me reeling down a cyclone of darkness and I felt that I needed to take a shower to try to wash myself clean.
For many years, I ran from understanding shame because, truly, it hit too close to home for me. But recently shame and I had a true face-to-face, and I saw it clearly for the first time.
I was talking to a friend who was telling me about her day. A couple of folks in her family were unhappy about something, and she decided to take care of it so that they felt better. She ended up changing her schedule that day to run around trying to fix things. And she admitted that it took its toll on her.
And that’s when I recognized that I was witnessing shame in action. I could totally relate to her because for decades as a survivor of childhood trauma I, too, was a pleaser and overachiever, trying to fix everything and everyone to overcompensate for my sense of not being good enough exactly as I was. That is shame in action.
I looked at my beautiful friend, realizing that she doesn’t recognize her magnificence. She doesn’t see herself as the kind and heartfelt woman that she is. She doesn’t realize that she doesn’t have to do a damn thing and she would still be as worthy and deserving as the day she was born. But playing the role of martyr goes hand-in hand with the idea of feeling shame.
Why do we put it on ourselves to try to fix stuff? If it isn’t coming from a place of joy, it may be worth exploring. Consider asking yourself, “What happened for me to overcompensate or apologize for my existence?” and see what comes up that is ready to heal so you can return to your badass and magical self.
The fact of the matter is (and according to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948), you were born with “inherent dignity.” For me, this means that you don’t have to do a damn thing to prove your worth.
No matter what may have happened to you, no matter your race, skin color, gender, challenge, abusive situations or lack of acknowledgment by society, these things are absolutely not connected to the idea of your value. It’s time to stop attaching your value to what has happened to you.
Stuff happens to all of us — it is our job to heal them so that we can allow them to transform. As you heal, you can truly recognize your inherent value and shine from there!