Drawing on MSC’s Soften Soothe Allow for Shame, we offer a simple journaling exercise as this week’s Creative Invitation:
- Bring to mind one incident in your life that made you feel embarrassed or somewhat ashamed. (Perhaps an overreaction, a time when you did or said something you felt was foolish, etc.)
- Gently touch in with what the experience feels like. Where is it in your body? What emotions are arising? Notice any beliefs that come up for you, such as “I’m unkind,” or “I’m a fraud.”
- Now, offering yourself some kind or soothing touch, ask yourself: What soothing words do you need to hear right now? With that held in your heart, imagine you have a friend who was struggling in the same way as you are right now. What would you say to this friend? Journal to this friend for as long as you wish. Try if you can to offer a kind tone and compassionate words to this friend of yours who may be suffering.
Upon completing your journaling, simply release the inquiry and allow yourself to be exactly as you are. Caring for yourself in whatever way is necessary for you, right now. Going easy.
- Were you able to speak to yourself about the shame as you might speak to a good friend in the same situation?
- We know that shame is an “innocent emotion.” That is, it stems from our need to survive and thus be embraced and loved by our caregivers. Shame arises when we fear that part of ourselves is inherently unloveable, and thus we could be rejected by those whose survival we rely upon. Just like everyone else, you wish to be loved. Can you note how (and whether) this insight is reflected in your experience above?
- While you may feel isolated in your shame-filled experience and/or the core beliefs underlying it, you are not alone; the sum total of negative core beliefs amongst humans (“I’m unworthy. I’m stupid. I’m unloveable.”) are relatively few. And so your beliefs may be shared by half a billion other people! How does this affect your feelings of shame in the situation above, if at all?