Very rarely do we hear those words as an adult, but boy do we all have stories of our version of having this said to us as children. As we get older, this version takes subtler forms as in sideways looks, ostracism, backbiting gossip, ridicule and silent treatment.
It all says that same thing. Who you are or what you just did IS NOT OK.
Shame is such a controlling force that people will take drugs to drown out its voices in their heads, starve themselves to avoid the shaming fat comments, drive themselves to exhaustion to please other people and get their approval, sell themselves out to belong and allow abusive treatment in the guise of not being rejected.
And we become dishonest. We wear masks to avoid showing who we really are for fear of being SHAMED. There is a deep-seated belief that WHO WE ARE IS NOT OK.
Self-acceptance is healing. It is FREEING. It is empowering and enlivening.
We need to pass back the prison bonds that have been given to us and question these beliefs.
I have learned so much in learning the Non-Violent Communication list of needs that are common to us all. We all have a need for contribution and to feel effectiveness on our lives but are more often ashamed of our need to just be and rest. We know we need to expand and expend to achieve and receive applause, but then go through withdrawal when we need to contract and renew and there is no audience telling us how wonderful we are. Or worse, they are ridiculing us for being weak or lazy.
And yet, both are equal sides of ourselves. One is accepted by society and the other is not, so we hide that part of ourselves and make up stories like we “are sick” so we can stay home and regroup. We can’t just be honest and say we need a day off.
Or we lie and say we are doing fine when in reality we are scared or sad or lonely. But we don’t want to be called Sissy or Needy or Loser, so we hide that part of ourselves as well.
Self-acceptance starts with the realization that it’s okay to have those needs and also with the added realization that those who are shaming us have the same needs that they are also suppressing and thus are projecting that shame they feel onto us because our showing and taking care of our needs triggers their own shame inside of them.
We can find courage to be honest and be our true selves and in the process free others to be their own true selves as well.
Shame is contagious, but so is true courage.
Self-acceptance is healing and it is energizing. Only when we are operating from our true center and core can we truly be happy.
And it drains our life vitality to constantly be suppressing our true selves. It’s exhausting.
And with acceptance comes faith that we can take care of ourselves no matter what, even in the face of projection and rejection of others.
There are people out there that will love us for who we are when we can find the courage to love ourselves first.
Our needs are valid and keep us alive. Our feelings are indicators of needs that are not being met and can be trusted. True needs are often shamed by parents or adults who don’t know how to meet those needs. But that doesn’t make us wrong for having those needs, it just means that they can’t meet those needs. It’s okay to be human and it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to just be ourselves.
Don’t ever let someone else box you in with shame. Learn to embrace your shadow needs and love all parts of yourself. Get out of the shame prison and live the full life you were meant to.