Breaking the Trance of Unworthiness
The prevalent feeling of shame in our culture is getting an increasing amount of attention. In Steve Flowers' and Bob Stahls' new book Living with Your Heart Wide Open, they give us some insight into the question, What does it mean to live with shame?
"To live with shame and feelings of inadequacy is to live with guilt, self-loathing, and a constant sense of isolation propelled by the belief that you are deficient as a human being. These beliefs are hard-wired and painful to face, but those who are eventually able to overcome them reap many rewards: compassion for themselves and others, and the ability to open beyond the the trance of unworthiness."
Probably at the core of most the people I see in my psychotherapy office is the belief deep down that "something is wrong with me." This belief may have come from not feeling secure in the family, or not feeling a sense of belonging on the schoolyard or the constant comparing of ourselves to the billboards or movies, always falling short of being "cool enough" or having the perfect romantic relationships.
This sense of not belonging is one of the greatest threats we face as human beings. Think about this from an evolutionary perspective. If you weren't part of a clan, you couldn't survive on your own. Our nervous systems have not forgotten that.
When we feel like we don't belong socially, it gets the mind reeling that something is wrong with us and the rumination begins trying to find ways to belong to a point where we can get stuck in anxiety or depression. Other times we find ways to escape the shame through drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, work, or name your addictive behavior.
Shame is not an enemy, it is a part of us that needs to be integrated into our whole self and held with a sense of understanding and love.
If you have some of these feelings see if you can identify where they stem from. Then either get Steve and Bob's book to learn how to bring mindfulness to it for healing or seek out a mental health professional.
You don't need to walk around staying stuck in the same old destructive cycles that don't serve your health and well-being.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.