90-Day A Better Me Letters Series
Part I: A Journey of Awareness
What Holds Us Back: The Unstable Foundation
Day 9: The Secret of Shame
“Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: Secrecy, silence, and judgment.”
Shhhh…If they know you, they will see how pathetic you are. If they knew what you did, they would hate you. I hate you. Just keep doing. Just keep giving. You are nothing. You don’t deserve to be alive. You don’t deserve happiness. You’re a fraud. You should have been the one to die. You don’t belong here.Just try to be the perfect wife, husband, boyfriend girlfriend, employee, church member, mother, father, daughter, son…
Shame keeps us trapped in a hell within our own skin. Shame is the reasoning behind the messages in our heads that tell us we are unworthy and unlovable. We could have been told shhh…don’t tell or your mom and dad, if you do they won’t love you. We could have told ourselves that just as easily. We might have kept secrets fearing we would be exposed, abandoned, yelled at, and overall shown that we really are unlovable.
Shame puts our value in what someone else might think of us. We judge ourselves according to what our mind tells us others are thinking. We make up story after story in our heads—Still not dealing and facing our secret feeling of being so bad that we are utterly unlovable.
Our reality is a mirror of what is going on inside us. How do you know if you have secret shame buried under the layers of defense mechanisms? In my findings and studies I found that shame is present:
- If you don’t like your life
- If you attack and gossip about others
- If you think the world is against you
- If you attract abusive friends and partners (and keep them in your lives)
- If you self-abuse
- If you engage in addictions
- If you feel the need to numb yourself
- If you self-sabotage
- If you are a doormat in your life
- If you feel like you are used by others
- If you give so much that you don’t take care of yourself
I think I made my point. SHHH…Don’t tell shame but you are about to break your life wide open if you are open to face it!
If you found yourself shifting in your seat or getting emotionally triggered…It’s time to start digging into how you really see yourself. We do our best to suppress shame the best we can. I know I did, I went through years of unhealthy relationships and didn’t uncover my stuff that was keeping me there. It took me going back to school and my professor explaining to me that if we stay in an unhealthy relationship, it is because we are as sick as our partners. That one knocked the wind out of me. I had just moved from one unhealthy relationship to another and I kept focusing on their sickness.
The solution to shame is releasing the secret. Sometimes we think that we are such bad people because of the thoughts that float around in our heads. This can come out in a myriad of different ways: thoughts about family, money, relationships, friends, careers, community members, or perfect strangers. We think people won’t love us if they only knew all the horrible things we’ve done and thought. I thought so bad of myself as a teenager that I tried to kill myself multiple times and ended up in a hospital. I thought that everyone would be better off without me around. When a person is suicidal the outside world may see that person as selfish. Most times the person wanting to commit suicide feels like they are doing the world right by killing themselves. That is about as deep as shame can go. It can tell us not only do we not feel worthy of breathing air, but the world would be a better place without us in it. No one knew the depth of how much I loathed my very existence. People couldn’t understand because I had lots of friends and I did good in school. Though I stopped trying to kill myself, I didn’t starting healing my deepest levels of shame until I was around 40. My life changed in the most miracle-filled way possible as I dug down deeper. Does that mean my life if perfect and things don’t get to me, HA HA—NO! As long as I’m living here, I’m learning new things about myself, life, and how I choose to live it in each moment. Just because I don’t feel shame now, doesn’t mean a layer of shame won’t expose itself. That is why I created the 35-Day A Better Me Boot Camp, because I wanted to help others transform their lives in miraculous ways and have tools to move them through the process of healing as many times as they need it.
“Shame is a soul eating emotion.”
– C.J. Young
Shame is so sneaky that it will creep into our spiritual practices, careers, volunteer hours, causes we support, and family lives. Sometimes we get caught up doing so much just to try to run from the one thing that we can’t escape—Ourselves. It is our perspective of thought about ourselves that keeps us trapped in our own vicious cycles. When we don’t face the shame inside ourselves, we taint everything we touch in our lives. That is the secret of shame. That is why the houses we build on our foundations of shame will always crumble and deteriorate. Too many of us believe the answers are in what we do on the outside…that is how shame stays alive. We think we might accept ourselves if we make ourselves look better on the outside, but those messages in our heads won’t change if we don’t face where they are coming from. We have to release the secret, even if it is to a journal or a letter that we never send and burn as a release. We have to get these secrets out of our bodies.
No one is too young or too old to change if they want to. There are healthy people amongst us living without shame or with very low levels. 12-Step programs succeed because their steps move a person through releasing their secret shames and healing with the support of a community. Many who fail are so scared to look at the person in the mirror, and the work of the 12-steps is all about looking at that person. We will repeat the same unhealthy patterns over and over until we stop, look, work through, and accept the person standing in front of us.
In my 30’s I started attending AL-ANON, which is a 12-step program for friends and family of alcoholics. It is not a program about changing the person who suffers from the disease. I needed AL-ANON to fix my warped perspective that had me focusing on fixing others instead of working on the one person I actually could change. I went to AL-ANON to get MEback. I was just a shadow of a person when I walked in that door. I felt like a series of titles, mom, wife, daughter, etc. I didn’t feel like I had a true identity because I was so busy defining myself in roles to please others. That is how little I thought about myself. In the program, I peeled back layers of shame (I will talk about that in the days to come). It wasn’t until I was around 40 that I healed HUGE chucks of it to the point where as of this very moment, I feel amazing inside. Getting here took a lot of work, focus, and commitment. We don’t have to be the victims our pasts if we heal the shame that past traumas and beliefs caused us. The process takes time, patience, and the openness to see other perspectives and thought patterns are possible.
Everything I write is perspective. It is the perspective I choose to live by because it fuels my happiness, joy, peace, and serenity. This perspective helps me look at myself with love and respect on daily basis. When I thought differently about life, I didn’t want to be apart of it. I CHOOSE to see things the way I do because I know it works for the life I WANT and AM living. You get to make that choice for your life. You don’t haveto agree with a word I write. You can actually get angry and rage-filled if you CHOOSE to. If how you are responding to other’s perspectives is causing you to spend energy in fear, shame, blame, judgment, and hate this first part of the 90-Day A Better Me Series may be VERY challenging for you. I highly suggest getting a journal and writing down what is going on inside of you. PART II (Acceptance) and PART III (Action) will help you IF, and only IF, you CHOOSE that you don’t want that to be how you live your life.
If you want to go through a more intensified and faster process of getting there, I hope you will look at doing my 35-Day A Better Me Boot Camp. It is a personalized program where I work with you daily as you work through the process of developing new thought patterns about your life and yourself. You also get 3-hour long sessions with me. I know the pain of living my life according to the fear, shame, blame, judgment, and hate filled perspectives of living life. I don’t wish that pain on anybody. I heard someone years ago say, “If I want my life to be different, I have to do things differently.” That stuck to me like glue. Along with a message I got in AL-ANON, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
We each get the power to CHOOSE how we see things. When we take back that power, we start living our lives instead of letting our lives live us.
Facing shame can be very intense work. I hope you have a support system to help you process what comes up. If you don’t, being open to change will light a path where people will show up in your life to give you support. STAY OPEN!
Just For Today
Look in the mirror and tell yourself you are lovable. You are worth living. You are capable of changing old thought patterns that no longer serve you. If you are carrying around belief systems that tell you that you are doomed or that you can’t change, ask yourself how those beliefs serve you? All beliefs are just perspectives of thought. That is why we can have so many people with so many ways of interpreting the same exact material. Only you can decide what perspective works best in your life. Be honest with yourself. Don’t confuse perspectives of thoughts about yourself with an absolute truth.
With Love and Gratitude,
Rachael Wolff ©2019
A Better Me
Don’t forget read 90-Day A Better Me Letters Series: Day 9 – Exposing the Shame Within to get an idea of how to write letters to help you process and work through transforming thought patterns that don’t serve you.
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