Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.
I’m chatting with my Mom on the phone. I love my Mom, she’s my best friend. She proceeds to tell me 2 family members have recently made comments that my son’s shirt had stains on it and that his hair was matted. I felt the initial heat rise, wanting to get nit picky. I instead launched into why I don’t agree and then started justifying (or protecting) myself from these comments.
My pep talk went something like this: Hello, he’s a boy! He gets dirty and sometime spills on his shirts. And…he has longer hair and it’s not matted. I use a detangler and try to comb them out and yet, still in the morning they are back. Could I do it better? Of course and I’m not too concerned with a few stains and snarls. I make all of our food, I gave birth naturally, he’s never sick. So there!
Ah! I felt a bit better. My Mom patiently listened to me. Then I finished with: There is only so much time in a day and I am more interested in my child eating healthy food and moving as much as he can. Not looking picture perfect all the time. Plus, I think we are both rockin’ it and ain’t no snarls and stains gonna get me down!
Note: My kid does take baths and washes his hair (haha). I personally think his hair is awesome with a few snarls and all. And..sometimes I spill things on my shirt….and don’t brush my hair everyday. So…it’s clearly not top on my list of priorities.;)
I got off the phone still feeling slightly triggered. I glanced at the kitchen sink that had dishes in it from yesterday’s cooking. I found it odd that I was upset about it now. Because just this morning I actually danced around the island listening and singing to All About That Bass, celebrating my life and feeling good even though the kitchen was a mess. I knew I’d clean it today but as I stood there with agitation…I felt a hit of what?? Shame!? Is shame lurking behind the scenes right now I wondered…
I dug a little deeper. I realized this is a part of me I keep integrating (+ accepting) more and more. I’m not interested in interior design or fashion. It’s not my thing. It never has been. Currently, I am more comfortable in yoga clothes, vibrams with my hair pulled up (usually not brushed). It feels easy and functional to do the things I’ve deemed most important like moving my body. If I was all dressed up in restricted clothes I might not move as much as I do now…but, I digress (that’s a whole other post).
Occasionally, a voice pipes up telling me I should care more about home design and what I wear. I get inspired for like a minute to do something about it and then I realize I don’t currently want to invest my time and energy into that. I am clear on what lights my fire and that’s not it. I’d rather read a book, go for a walk or take a nap. 🙂
While it seems our culture is all about photoshop, perfection, makeup and looking like a celebrity; I am all about wearing less makeup, getting down the truth of who I am and being more real and authentic and not having to look picture perfect in order to be worthy. I’ve tried the other path and it never felt like it fit.
For many years I slept with a futon on the floor. As long as I had my journal, books and good healthy food in my home I was golden. I could probably wear the same outfit every single day for a month (or year) and it wouldn’t negatively effect my sense of aliveness or creativity. My “makeup” consists of moisturizer, boom that I use on my cheeks and lips, mascara and occasionally natural mineral makeup and some eye liner. That’s 5 products. I love the simplicity.
I realize it’s not an either/or choice…and there’s no one right camp. The only camp I am interested in is the one that truly resonates for me and my willingness to own it more and more. And…I can totally appreciate the opposite perspective as well, it’s just not my current interest. We all have our own style, flava and season of expression so there’s room for all of our divine uniqueness.
So…after a few minutes of excavating through my thoughts and emotions. I walked to the park pushing my son in the stroller and I had the thought: I am actually an interior designer. My designer skills are more oriented towards the interior landscape of consciousness. The feeling/emotional/mental/spiritual realms of life design.
It can be so easy to focus on the “spots” where we aren’t the strongest and let that outshine our true greatness. I’m talking figuratively and metaphorically here. I do believe we need to be aware of stains and spots but not allow them to take center stage.
We need to have a clear sense of who are and embrace it fully and lean into our strengths. There’s not doubt our weaknesses can diminish our shine so it’s important we don’t let let them kick the joy out. But there is only one main stage. Who’s voice is that gonna be? Hopefully our highest self.
Yet there was more…I pondered…What’s underneath my trigger? I’m well aware that we aren’t the most “fashionable” family ever. I am also well aware that I am *really* proud of myself for the mother I am. I gave birth naturally at home and I’ve done my best to give him the most loving and nourishing home life as possible – from the nutrition, to RIE, to reading and studying and my deep commitment to being an awesome parent. Shame can’t take that away from me.
But, there was still an urge to say: Screw you and throw some criticisms their way. But, is that really what I want? Does this really matter? What would I say about these two family members if today was there last day? I wouldn’t criticize. I would celebrate all their awesomeness. So, why waste time doing it now? I don’t want to fight back, blame or justify myself. I just want to be myself.
Criticism doesn’t support me in who I know myself to be. It doesn’t elevate it belittles. There’s a feeling of relief and righteousness when I criticize someone. But, what’s really hiding behind the criticism is my hurt and a feelings sense that I’m not being seen for all the good I am actually doing and for who I truly am.
Wait a second how the heck did I get to this place. It was just a short little chat with my Mom about hair and stains. No big deal. Oh, how shame weaves a powerful web of illusion.
In the big scheme of life this is petty stuff. And, yet if not addressed can ruin our days, years, lives if we don’t investigate. So I take a few deep breathes and ask how I can grow? What can I learn here?
I think about what I love and appreciate about these 2 family members. I can find a lot of good and gratitude if I am willing to step out of irritation. Then, I think about the things I love an appreciate about myself. Who I am and all the ways I’ve grown and changed over the years and how I am getting better and better every day.
I look at the “comments” objectively and look for the kernel of truth with a growth mindset. Can I work on my son’s snarls more? Yes, of course I can. Can I be more aware of stains and change his shirts more often throughout the day? Yes, I can. This doesn’t mean I will always choose to do it. But, I can. I have that choice.
I can also work on the snarls of criticism and blame in my mind and scrub some of the self limiting stains from my consciousness as well. We all have limiting mental drama in our minds that could use a bit more attention and elbow grease to clean up the clutter that blocks our power.
I also can see how both of these family members have an amazing talent with organization and cleaning. This is their strong suit. I can learn from them. It is no secret that this hasn’t been one of mine. I’ve already improved so much over the years and I keep refining my systems and habits to get even better. Everything can be for our growth.
If we can step far enough back and question, meditate, and see the bigger picture then all the so-called criticisms can be used to our advantage, for our transformation. When we point our finger at someone there is always more fingers pointing back at us. Which means we have more work to do. This is actually exciting when we can do it from a place of love, kindness and awareness. Listen with curiosity to our shame because it’s always calling us to come home to our essence.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Don’t let the snarls, stains and shame get you down. See the growth opportunity and seize it. Use criticism to catapult you to the next level. Don’t swim in a shame storm, it does no good. We are all doing the best we can and we can also do better. The criticisms, frustration, and anger can lead us to a more fulfilled life. We are all splendidly imperfect. See the beauty in it all. It’s there.
Bring it on!