Are you stuck? Is there something you want to accomplish but you just can’t seem to make it happen? As I write down painful stories from my past, I can see places where I have been mired down in the inability to do things that I want to do. It’s like having a bad dream in which you want to run but you can’t: your feet are glued to the ground.

I think shame must be the most painful and damaging emotion that we humans can experience. Wherever there is shame in our hearts, we cover it, deny it, push it further down. Shame, we instinctively assume, cannot be released or removed from inside us because to do so would bring even more shame and pain upon us. Letting go of shame, we think, will cause others to see that shame and judge us. Even talking about our shame is painful. We avoid it. Sometimes it is hidden so deeply in our hearts that we don’t even know we have it. Hidden shame wreaks havoc in our lives, ruling us from an invisible inner throne.

Our parents shame us unintentionally when we get the idea from them that we are bad or irritating or stupid or clumsy or lazy or just in their way. Incidents that seem small to our parents are very large to us when we are children, and when parents snap at children, get angry and withhold affection, it can have huge unintended consequences.

There are lots of other opportunities to pick up feeling of shame from our environments. Schools can be shame factories, especially if a child is already feeling inadequate because of imperfect parenting. Some kids try to mitigate their own shame by picking on others, tearing them down, and spreading that feeling of shame around.

Some of us suffered through blatant, intentional impartations of shame, but shame feels the same whether you came upon it accidentally or someone was really trying to be cruel.

I don’t think anyone survives childhood unscathed by some amount shame. Some of us struggle more than others, but any time you feel stuck in life, seemingly unable to accomplish something that you want, see if there is a thread connected to a time in your life when you felt ashamed. Becoming aware of that hidden shame is the first step to wholeness and peace and getting “unstuck”.

The cure to shame is a deep understanding that you are loved and accepted just as you are. An intellectual assent of this truth can be a good place to start, but it is not enough to break down the walls of your heart that hold the shame in. The only thing that can break down those walls you’ve built up over the years to protect yourself, is for you to say “yes” to Love when it knocks at the door of your heart fortress. When you say yes, when you allow this moment of vulnerability, Love will kick down the walls, break all the bricks in your fortress, remove the shame, and invade your being. Love takes up residence in your heart and forbids the re-entrance of shame, making it possible for you to live life in the fullness you were created for.

Written by Tina Gasperson

2 Comments

Jim Grey

It seems to me that there’s a link between shame and loss of agency, but I can’t establish it clearly in my mind. But I know for me that in my life when I’ve been stuck there has been a feeling of “I have to accept what happens to me,” and it rests in the same place as the shame I’ve carried.

Sometimes I can’t change things. But earlier in my life, that was far less often than I thought. Even now, when I find myself feeling stuck, I have to really push myself to get at the root of it and look hard to find out what power I have over it.

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tinagasperson

Thanks Jim. It’s interesting and enlightening to see it from another perspective. I was just thinking last night about that concept of accepting everything, not resisting, and how that can bring such peace. For me, the act of accepting seems counterintuitive a lot of the time but when I remember it and try it, it really helps.

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