Shame is a liar. If you know me at all, you know it’s my arch nemesis. I’ve been rallying against it, waving a flag of freedom to anyone who might need it, marching in protest of it, yelling about it and otherwise trying to help people escape it, for years now. (Including myself.)
I. Hate. Shame.
It’s very tricky… shame is incredibly insidious. We shame ourselves without thinking twice about it, without realizing it. We shame others, even when we don’t mean to. It’s happening before we even know it. We get wrapped up in its quicksand vortex and end up paralyzed.
We begin to learn this when we’re very young and it just starts to compound over the years with messages coming at us from every direction. We get the signal that something about us is shameful, even if we have no clue what that is or why we may feel that way. Maybe we don’t want/identify with the script handed to us by life, or perhaps we can’t connect with the world’s narrative or expectations. We start to feel like there’s certainly something wrong or broken about us.
We must be damaged. Unlovable. Unworthy. That’s the lie.
As someone who genuinely believes that shame is the thing holding most of us back, I’m on a mission to root that shit out and chop it off any chance I get.
And the biggest gun in my arsenal, is compassion.
The Latin root of the word compassion is – “pati” (to suffer) and the prefix is “com” (with)
To Suffer With
Compassion is capable of some extremely heavy lifting. It’s brave. It’s vulnerable. It’s raw. It doesn’t turn away from pain, self-protect, or try to “fix” things. Instead, it decides to feel the pain of shame and call it out into the light. One thing shame can’t live through is being spoken out loud…being exposed. It starts to melt like a vampire in the sun. <That’s an analogy riddled with pain for a reason…this is painful work. (Especially when the person who needs compassion to charge to the rescue is YOUR-OWN-DAMN-SELF.)
Compassion isn’t a relationship between hurt and healer, it’s a relationship between equals. Compassion takes risks…and I LOVE that.
Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, says, “…Compassion practices daring.”
I, for one, think the world could use more daringly compassionate people.
So tell me, what’s in your arsenal? How do you fight shame?