Dear Awesome Woman,
Walking along Lake Michigan the other day, my friend and I came across an amazing site.
We had been talking about the emotion of shame and I said, “I experience the emotion of shame in my body in a very visual way. It appears as an image of a black octopus in my mind’s eye and it inches its way backwards as if it’s trying to hide.”
Just then I glanced upwards towards the cloudless blue sky and saw a black octopus kite, its eight legs waving blissfully in the air. I pointed at it, “Oh, look – that’s it! There’s my shame-monster.”
My friend followed my finger and both of us just stared. Then we laughed at this impossibility.
What was the likelihood of seeing an image from my mind’s eye, floating in the air at the exact time that I was having a conversation about it?
We walked on the sand so I could stand under the kite and look my shame-monster right in the eyes, literally.
I used the opportunity to release shame and said out loud “I’m willing to release the need for shame-monster.” This meant that I wasn’t going to allow shame-monster to occupy me anymore with hurtful messages. But how? Just by saying the phrase?
I didn’t know at the time what would change, but I love using that ‘willing to release the need” phrase (a Louise Hay term) to set an intention that I’m ready for whatever has been limiting me in my subconscious to be released – this time it was shame, other times it’s been something else. It means that for whatever reason that I’ve been living with certain belief systems, emotional habits or behaviors that don’t serve me in a positive way, I’m choosing to be done with them.
A few days later, I was using a Mind-body technique to process a situation and shame was the emotion that came up. I closed my eyes, put my attention on the vague physical sensation and the thought that accompanied it.
In my mind’s eye, I saw the familiar vision of my shame-monster – the black eight-legged octopus. And then slowly the feeling of shame shifted to sadness and with it, my shame-monster’s image shifted. Rather than the octopus inching backwards to hide, it put its arms around a vision of me and hugged me. All eight of its legs embraced me and its bulb like head leaned on my shoulder. I ‘heard’ the words “I’m so sorry that that time was so hard for you.”
Wow! My shame-monster had transformed into compassion-monster.
I sat with this image of me being hugged by the black octopus for half a minute and reveled in the sensation of compassion for myself.
Emotional processing techniques involve the imagination and therefore result in new neural pathways formed in the mind and also energetic shifts in the body. These shifts are permanent because it affects the cells on a deep level. No longer will shame-monster be that – instead it has metamorphosed into compassion. And instead of shame inching backwards causing me to want to hide, I will be wrapped in it’s embrace with compassionate words of understanding.
So, how can you do this as well?
When you are feeling shame about something, take a moment to close your eyes and go within. Shame usually comes from heavy judgement. You may be comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides or you may be comparing yourself to a perfectionistic false version of you. Remember that ‘ to compare is to despair’ and notice if you’re thoughts are ‘shoulding’ you. “I should be a better….” “I should be doing better …”
Focus on the physical sensation of these shame thoughts in your body for a few seconds. If an image pops up, great – just notice.
With the allowing and awareness of the sensation, you may ‘hear’ another thought or ‘see’ another image. If it feels like relief, you’ve probably touched on some soul wisdom.
It’s not that we shouldn’t feel ‘bad’ about some actions we’ve taken, but shame doesn’t help us take accountability for those actions. Instead, it stops us in our tracks and our energy goes more towards hiding or defending ourselves rather than changing.
With compassionate self- awareness and a kind understanding of who we are and the circumstances that we’ve been challenged by, we stop wasting our precious energy on critical self – judgement. Instead, like my new octopus image, we can embrace ourselves, show up and choose different actions.
Need a hand accessing and understanding your emotions? Please reach out and schedule your free Clarity call and I’m happy to help.