Noun – A painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy or guilt.
This little creature lives in your mind as a neural pathway of your brain. Its effect on you as a person is in direct correlation with whether this emotion has been fostered in you, or not. Not many choose to foster this for themselves; generally shame tends to be the unspoken property of the inner child.
As adults, shame is subjective; it goes by names like ego, pride and guilt but doesn’t show up as itself so readily. As children, shame takes on a very different connotation and can breed within a person a harmful tendency toward self-deprecation in its many and varied forms.
Each and every one of us has an inner child and an inner adult. Some children grow into their inner adult, some adults grow into their inner children; it is all relative to the work you do with them and your acceptance of the existence of them both. Beyond acceptance, respect for both of these people is a beautiful integration of SELF!
Knowing this, if you had a child in front of you, would you ever let them feel so awful? Would you allow a small child to carry such a weight, to misinterpret so fully that they are taking the blame and burdening themselves with the responsibility? I highly doubt it! I bet what you would likely see is a hurting child. Does this child have the capacity to deal with the situation they are telling you about? Are they really old enough to understand the full story of what they are experiencing? Are they old enough to allocate responsibility where it actually belongs?
This is a perspective exercise that can help with many a dark night of the soul. Treat yourself as if you were a friend sitting across from you in your living room, spilling their beans about their dilemmas – this is a profound tool because humans tend to find it easier to solve the problems of others more than their own. Try it sometime!
We all have a shame voice. It is a distasteful sound and it is easier, as with many distasteful things, to push it away. The thing about mental voices you push away though, is they can come back with a vengeance in the body and before you know it, that teeny, icky voice has hurt your shoulder, has torn a disc in your back or become cancer. Worse still, you could hurt someone else. Un-nurtured emotions fester. What begins as tiny neural pathways invisible to the naked eye can end up a highway to destruction if love and sense do not intervene…
It is perfectly okay to have a shame voice, it is even perfectly okay to hear it and know it and talk to it. Accept within yourself that this is, by default or otherwise, a part of you. Don’t be afraid to look at what it shows you – sure that could be ugly, but it is in the past and so can be used to learn from. Looking at this as an objective third person really helps to distinguish whether the shame is real and something you need to take action on or something that doesn’t even really add up or matter that much in the long run. Does it really have anything to do with whom you want to be in the world today?
‘You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think’ – Christopher Robin
With this distinction comes the possibility to let shame go; moreover, to let shame be. Can you let it come to the surface? Can you sit with it and discuss its intricacies? Can you let go of that corseted feeling it causes inside you? When? Could you even do it now? GO FOR IT!