Shame is one of the most debilitating emotions a human can endure in this life, and for many it can last a lifetime. What is Shame, actually?
Let’s break it down. Physically shame feels like a sinking inward, a recoiling of the heart, a rounding of the shoulders, a posture of protection. Emotionally it is an oppression of your inner flame. Shame is when you are made to feel like you did something wrong, weather that is the case or not. Shame gets lodged in your body in an instant and can forever get triggered each time you are reminded of that scenario or feeling. So, one small moment in time has the ability to form your path for life, if you let it.
As I pull together 20 of the world’s leading experts on Love, Sex, and Relationships for my 3rd annual Tele Summit “Alchemy of Sex, “ the topic of Shame is coming up quite a bit. What is Shame? Where does it come from? How can you heal it? All of these questions are answered in this year’s Free Virtual Summit, so keep an eye out for that in Sept.
You may remember a time when you were a child and an older sibling or parent shamed you for an action that you took in perfect innocence. Like the time your mom yelled at you for drawing on the walls with your crayons, or that time your older brother made fun of you and teased you for the way you played pretend with your stuffed animals. Shame can shut you down. These are mild examples, and in some cases shame can come from sexual, physical or verbal abuse, but the truth is unless your experience of shame has been acknowledged, addressed and healed it can affect you just as deeply no matter how severe or “normal” it was.
Shame is a rabbit hole that keeps going and going, until you learn to stop it, clear it and un-claim it.
To un-claim your shame is to no longer have it on your radar, meaning that it doesn’t even occur to you to feel shame. Growing up in Southern California in a small town near L.A. there where beautiful girls in my high school class who were getting boob jobs and nose jobs at 16; image was everything! I knew I had to be thin and pretty and smart or I would never be loved or accepted. Not by the boys at school, not by my friends, and certainly not by my parents.
This message of “not being enough” might sound familiar to you. It’s a message that is imprinted onto you throughout your life and it carries on into your early adult hood, keeping you from living out your fullest potential in this world. It dims the light within you that is your vitality, creativity, confidence, and authentic drive.
This deep sense of shame can inhibit you well into your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond, it will affect you relationships, your finances, and your health if you do not choose a different path. A path of being worthy!
Now let’s talk about shame in regards to sex. If you were fortunate, your first sexual encounters were with a significant other in a safe and supportive space.
If you were anything like me, on the other had, it was the exact opposite. It was far from safe and far from supportive, it may have even been nonconsensual. Causing you to shut down your pleasure centers and associate sexuality with being bad or wrong.
That’s no way to live!
Sex is one of the most beautiful gifts we have been given in this lifetime. When you are unable to open this gift and see all the beauty inside you are missing one of the most magical parts of the human experience.
So how do you heal from shame, much less un-claim it?
You have to start by identifying that there is shame. It can be helpful to know where it comes from, pinpoint the incident or time in your life.
Exercise: Un-claim Your Shame
I recommend finding a special place in nature or in your home where you can be still and quiet enough to tune into the place in your body that you feel shame, notice the sensation of it. Is it tight, constricting, numb, dull, achy, or sharp? Does it limit your breath capacity; does it affect your heartbeat? What happens to your nervous system when you feel this shame?
Once you have identified where it is in your body, and what it feels like place your hands there and begin to breathe into that place, expanding your inhale consciously into that place to create more space there. If you would like to you can exhale with a sound, maybe an “AAAA,” sound to begin with, which might morph into deeper throatier sounds or even animalist growling sounds. Repeat that breath, using the inhale to create space and using the exhale to release and clear out the current sensations of shame from your body. Do this as long as necessary until you feel the sensation in you body change.
Depending on how long the shame has been there and how deeply you feel it, you will want to keep doing this practice. I have had clients clear substantial amounts of shame in 1-3 of these sessions, for others it can take 1-3 months. You will know when you are complete; trust your deep inner knowing.
One of the things shame does is take you away from trusting yourself, and you will see that the more you clear the sensation of shame the more you will begin to trust yourself, and your future will unfold in a new direction.
Through this unfolding, you will begin to stand up for yourself, your confidence will rise and you will begin to experience a deep sense of knowing that you are worthy of love, you are worthy of joy, and you have worth.
I encourage you to find support on this journey of un-claiming your shame, as it is helpful to have an objective perspective while working out the stories that created this shame to begin with. Shame gets so ingrained in your consciousness; it can be difficult to separate yourself from “it.”
I am here in full support of your break-through; please don’t hesitate to reach out!
I am wishing you a life full of joy, light, vitality and phenomenal self worth!
Willow Brown L.Ac.