The storyteller in our heads is so used to being judgmental, cruel and even vicious, telling us not only that we did something wrong (this is guilt), but that we are bad and wrong (this is shame). And it influences our lives from underneath our everyday awareness, keeping us cut off from the vast and healing regions of our own hearts. I used to have an extremely cruel judger inside of me and as I began to be curious about it, listening to what it was saying, I discovered that the judger never sees things clearly.
There are 3 things that can help you to unhook from the voices of guilt and shame:
1. Relate to, not from, your shame
It helps to understand that Life is in charge of Life. Life puts you in situations to help you see your shame and all of the other states, so you can learn to relate to them rather than from them. So, how can you relate to these stories and begin to heal your shame? By being curious about what is here rather than trying to change, numb or bury the feelings. The healing you long for happens when you can be with what is. It is not easy, especially feelings of shame, because the stories in your head can be very seductive. Your unconscious mind really and truly believes that you are only okay if you do life perfectly. Of course, perfectly is a very relative position. Perfect to one person is not perfect to another. The more you wake up, the more you see that everything is exactly as it needs to be. It is never about what is going on at the surface. It is always about what is going on underneath.
2. Be curious and compassionate with the judger
Judging has been a key part of your survival system. You were conditioned to think this way when you were very young. You can learn to be curious by asking the question, “What does this bring up inside of me?” and then you can bring compassion to the parts that need your attention right now. “Oh, the judger is here. I see you. You are the one who believes I am doing it wrong (or I am wrong).” The only power the judger has over you is when you think it is the voice of truth. But it is not. You can learn how to see this judging quality in your head rather than believing what it is saying. You can even move beyond judging this judger!
As you become curious, you can learn to unhook from these states, or what I call spells. The next time something happens in your life that brings up feelings of shame, ask yourself the question, “What are the stories that my shame voice is believing right now?” Remember, it is a process. In discovering the phenomenal healing power of being curious and compassionate , you will have access to it and then you forget, and then you remember at a deeper level and you forget, and you go to an even deeper level of remembering and then you forget, only to remember again. That is how life teaches us.
3. Tune into your body and feel the shame
You have probably buried most of your shame your entire adult life and have tried to pretend it doesn’t exist, or in some cases, you may not even be aware it exists. But it does. As you are awakening, Life is bringing you very uncomfortable experiences for a reason. They are tailor-made for you, custom-designed so that your feelings will come out of hiding and you can say “I see you.” When this happens, tune into your body and ask yourself, “Where in my body do I feel the shame? Is it in my belly?” Say hello to the tight belly and soften. Put your hand gently on your belly and say, “I see you.” If it is in your neck, back, or shoulders, give these tight, uncomfortable places your attention. Maybe even give them a little massage now and then. Be gentle with yourself. These are moments of healing.
The next time something happens in your life that brings up feelings of shame, ask yourself this question, “How can I be with this feeling right now?” And then say hello to the one who feels he/she is bad and wrong.
Mary O’Malley is an author, counselor and awakening mentor who resides in Kirkland, Washington. In the early 1970’s, a powerful awakening led Mary to begin changing her relationship with her challenges, freeing her from a lifelong struggle with darkness. For over 30 years, Mary has been helping others heal their fears, anxieties, shame and confusion. Her latest book, What’s In the Way IS the Way, is a guide for transforming struggle into the peace and joy that is our birthright. Eckhart Tolle says, “Thank you Mary, for your contribution to the evolution of human consciousness.” www.whatsinthewayistheway.com