Healing From Suffering Requires Meeting this One Character with Kindness

by | Sep 19, 2021 | Anxiety, HSP | 44 comments

It’s a character that I meet every day in my work and in my life.

It’s a character that can feel hot or cold, loud or quiet.

It’s a character that can slither into psyche expertly, quickly, often without conscious awareness, for it has likely been with you for a long time and has developed many ways to protect you from pain.

The character is called Shame, and most often it sounds like:

  • “There’s something wrong with you.”
  • “You’re broken.”
  • “You’re the only one suffering in this way.”
  • “Your thoughts are weird, bad, wrong.”
  • “Your feelings are too much, bad, wrong.”
  • “You’re stupid.”
  • “You’re ugly.”
  • “You’re a bad person.”
  • “If you don’t do it perfectly, people won’t like you.”
  • “There’s no room to mess up.”

Shame is a silencer, a protector, and a messenger, and I imagine that every highly sensitive person reading this blog is quite familiar with it.

How is shame a protector? It’s the first line of defense that protects against the wells of pain and fear that live at the core of the human experience. Shame, and its cousins, control and perfection, feed us the story that if we could only do things perfectly, or if only we were less of this and more of that (less emotional and more social, for example), we could guarantee that others would “love” and approve of us. Shame often arises when we don’t have an experience in early years from our primary attachment figures of being accepted exactly as we are. But it can arise in other ways, especially growing up in a culture that doesn’t value the highly sensitive person.

As the first protector, it needs attention before we can spiral into the more vulnerable emotions, for when shame is in the way we can’t access the softer places. What does it mean to give shame attention? The default attention will invariably be negative, for nowhere do we learn that shame needs our love and tenderness just like every other emotion. Shame needs to be named and held, but instead it’s often met with more shame: “What’s wrong with you for feeling shame when nobody else seems to feel it?” 

Can you imagine what it would feel like to meet shame with tenderness – to know that it, too, is an important member of the human psyche?

When we can soften into shame, we can touch the underlying emotions, needs, and opportunities for learning.

I’ll elucidate with two examples:

I had a work event a couple of weeks ago that didn’t go as well as I had hoped it would. I could feel that I wasn’t tapped into my most connected self and felt “off” in a way that doesn’t often happen around my work. After the event, I could feel the edges of shame taking hold, trying to lure me into a shame spiral. It felt heavy, as if a dark cloak had descended on my soul. I journaled it through, letting the shame voice have half a page of airtime (we don’t want to over-water that voice just like we don’t want to water intrusive thoughts), and then another voice came in. She said:

“Can you be gentle with yourself? Can you wrap up the perfectionist with love and hold the shame close? Instead of asking, at least right away, “How can you do better next time?” can you be with whatever is arising in you right now? Can you be okay that it wasn’t your best?”

And I responded:

I can. 

Then I invited my grandmother to come through, another voice of love and compassion. She said:

“It’s okay, my beautiful granddaughter. You made an important offering and even though you didn’t feel great about it, it’s still okay. It’s okay not to always be tapped in. Take time to replenish now. Be kind to yourself. Walk. Swim. Pick raspberries. Dance. Sing. Bless the land. Fill in and fill up. It’s all okay.”

Shame softens, and the underlying places of need filter up to the surface. The need for rest. The need for self-compassion. The need, as always, to allow a layer of grief to rise up and through.

Here’s an example of how shame frequently shows up in my work.

You’re getting married in a few months to a wonderful partner (not perfect!). You’re a highly sensitive person and you’ve felt scared the entire engagement. The fear doesn’t come out directly but instead attacks your partner/the relationship in the form of intrusive thoughts (not attracted enough; not in love enough, partner isn’t [funny, educated, intelligent] enough, etc). Shame comes in and says, “What’s wrong with you? What kind of a person gets married when they’re scared. What kind of person thinks these things about their partner?” Subtext: You’re a horrible person. You’re making a mistake and there’s something wrong with you.

The loving response might sound something like:

“Oh, dear self. Of course you’re scared! You love this person so much and the level of fear/projection is in direct proportion to the depth of the love; that’s how fear and love work. And you’re doing something new and huge. Would you tell a five-year old who’s scared to start kindergarten that he shouldn’t feel scared? Would you tell a women about to go into labor that she shouldn’t feel scared and that her fear means she doesn’t want her baby? Of course not! How normal it is to feel scared on the precipice of something big and new. And how normal it is for the fear and grief to come out as projections.”

Once the shame softens, the grief and fear can bubble up. Then things start to move and shift, and we find ourselves back in the current of life where all emotions are honored and seen, and we can follow those emotions back to our places of aliveness.

Just like breaking free from anxiety doesn’t mean that anxiety never shows up, so breaking free from shame doesn’t mean shame never shows up. It means we learn how to name what’s happening more quickly so that we can access the loving and wise part of ourselves and bring compassion and acceptance to our experience. As always, this learning happens in layers and spirals, but each time we meet ourselves in a new way, with more kindness, we lay down the neural pathways that allow a new behavior to take hold. This is how we find freedom.

How does shame show up for you? What do you notice when you can meet the shame with kindness?

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44 Comments

  1. Shame shows up for me in my relationship anxiety with voices like

    “No one else has these thoughts about your partner, only you.”

    “Well since your not attracted enough you are totally settling and making a huge mistake. You are not living your truth and are going to be miserable forever if you choose him”

    “You could get way better looking partner and then you wouldn’t suffer so much.”

    “Your only staying with him cause your too scared and have no courage to take the leap and live the life you actually want”

    I know these are shame voices because I have a wonderful partner. He has an outstanding character, he is kind and very loyal. He protects me and makes me feel so safe. Our connection when fear is not in the way can be described as: Sweet, warm, safe, feels like home, laughter, joy, and my favorite part of each day is going to sleep together where he rubs my back, wakes up with me when I’m having intrusive thoughts at 3am to help regulate me. I could go on and on.

    So it’s like why are these shame voices so so loud when I have something that is so amazing?

    Reply
    • They’re classic relationship anxiety protectors and messengers – protecting you from grief and fear and messengers pointing you in the direction of taking responsibility for your inner world. The 1st and 4th are shame voices and the 2nd and 3rd are projections.

      Reply
      • Hi there Hummingbird – I want you to know how deeply NOT alone you are. I have all the same thoughts about my partner. I love him enormously, and we are so good together. But my same and anxiety voices bubble up all the time. My mother doesn’t approve of him, but it’s partially because they don’t know him and they see things about him that they don’t understand — he is from a blue-collar family, he has a tattoo, he rides a motorcycle, he doesn’t know what kind of career he wants (he’s currently working on a lobster fishing vessel), and I hear my mom’s voice dismissing him and questioning him all the time. I want to give her a son-in-law she will love and approve of. Instead, I hear her voice telling me “he’s not good enough” “he’s not smart enough” “he’s not handsome or rich enough.” I know these values aren’t what’s important to me, but it’s really hard to ignore the shame that comes from these thoughts.

        My shame has a deep connection to my mother, but it can be hard to figure out if the shame voice is mine or hers.

        I just want you to know that you are not alone and that you are not broken or crazy for having these thoughts. I’m really glad you’re on this page and accessing Sheryl’s work so that you can sort through them. Sending you lots of love.

        Reply
      • Shame, control and perfection – less emotional and more social –

        I feel so much shame in my social anxiety. And in how I never seem to find my place in groups, especially at work. I have friends and a fairly social life, but I always feel lonely and as if people don’t really like me.

        I’ve always been drawn to the artistic, using my imagination through acting, writing and drawing. But I’ve always worked in the service industry and have recently started an internship after my degree in media and communication studies. In these settings, I tend to get very quiet and self-aware, and I feel intimidated by people that just seems to have that social skill naturally. It always feels like these people are more likeable that I am, and I’ve always felt replaceable. In groups of more introverted people, I tend to feel calm, and I’m generally more comfortable making conversation.

        I’m really trying to work on my self-esteem but it’s so hard when I constantly think about how other people see me.

        irreplaceable

        Reply
    • This is such a beautiful and helpful blog post, thank you! As I read the comments section, I realize anew that shame shows up in all kinds of different ways. It’s helpful when we can recognize it and love that part of ourselves, and then change the script. Thanks for this helpful resource!

      Reply
  2. Thank you. Very helpful. Quoting you….

    ‘Shame softens, and the underlying places of need filter up to the surface. The need for rest. The need for self-compassion. The need, as always, to allow a layer of grief to rise up and through.’

    “You love this person so much and the level of fear/projection is in direct proportion to the depth of the love; that’s how fear and love work.”

    This speaks to my soul – how in my marriage projections were so huge that they threatened the relationship and the peace for a long time .. shame making me feel stuck in this spiral of regret, unabling me to take responsibility .. But mindfully I’ve gradually learnt to observe these reactions and discover what I really needed. . and offering that to myself, detaching of codependent attitudes with love and self-compassion.
    Still.. sometimes overwhelm and and intensity takes over and as a highly sensitive person I struggle … And yeah, one step back.. but then five forward! 🙂

    Thank you for your beautiful article!! ❣️

    Reply
    • Thank you for your beautiful comment, and it sounds like you’ve been doing very deep and healing work on yourself. Keep going! And remember it’s not linear as much as layers and spirals: we spiral into the next layer of healing and awakening, hang out there for a while, and then spiral into the next layer. ❤️

      Reply
  3. My constant shame voice is my sexually abusive father, contemptuously calling me defective, or liar, untrustworthy, or useless, or ugly etc.., even though I estranged from parents a year ago.
    It’s exhausting and wearing.
    I have finally talked back and said “I know you are a ‘part’ “ but I cannot give this part any compassion at this point.

    Reply
    • I’m so sorry for your trauma and pain. That’s a horrible voice to have in your head like a running commentary, and I can completely understand why you can’t give compassion to this part. Remember this, though: Bringing kindness to the part doesn’t mean forgiving your father or feeling compassion for him. It means recognizing that the voice is categorically UNTRUE, and that it’s trying to protect you from worlds of pain. You might not be ready to feel that pain, and that’s okay, too. It sounds like you’re making very positive strides in talking back to it and naming it as a part.

      Reply
  4. Made me cry. And the intro in your email was something I really needed to hear, too. I feel that need for rest. Thanks for inviting me into it. 🙂

    Also, thank you for your vulnerability to share your recent experience of shame. It’s so helpful to hear your experience and your process — and to see you modeling vulnerability.

    Love,
    Jamie

    Reply
    • Thank you, Jamie. I’m glad the intro was helpful. I think we all need extra reminders right now to find and take rest whenever we can.

      I’m glad the modeling of vulnerability is helpful. It’s always vulnerable to be vulnerable about vulnerability 😉, but it’s worth it if I know it helps others to embrace their own places of vulnerability with more softness.

      Reply
  5. Shame shows up for me in a voice of shoulds. You should do this, you should do that. If you want to be accepted and loved you will conform to whatever I (the church or my family) says is right, and if you do not, you are not loved.

    I then transfer that voice onto my higher power and feel as if I cannot be loved or accepted until I am perfect 🙁 I know I never can be perfect though… so I stay at an arms distance 🙁 or, I pretend (lie) that I have it all together and am living as they say I should, when I’m really not. The problem is I still struggle with whether or not I do believe I must live up to their ideals. Part of me thinks, authentically I should.. but I don’t.

    But if a friend were to come to me.. I’d have so much love and acceptance for them. I’d want them to live their true authentic whole self. I’d welcome their conflicting feelings, and make space for them. I wouldn’t wag my finger in their face and judge them or push them out of community.

    And when I try to say that to myself, mother myself in that way, I feel it.. I feel at home, but I still see the crowd of shame.. hanging out.. waiting their turn 🙁

    Reply
    • It’s so good that you can mother yourself in the way you would mother a friend. And yes, the crowd of shame will still hang out, and perhaps they will be welcomed into the fold at some point. Not at the head of the table, but in the arms of a loving mother who can say, “I hear you. I know you’re suffering. And you can come sit with me, too.”

      Reply
      • My shame shows up exactly like Hummingbird6, along with:

        “You didn’t want to say yes to being his girlfriend, you just did because you felt bad saying no”

        “You always struggled to say no in your life and make the choices you want, and with the biggest decision of your life you didn’t say no to your boyfriend when all you ever wanted was to be with someone who you had the “in love” feelings with and you didn’t have them with him, so you are horrible and can never make the choices you want ever again”

        “Your struggles started when you found out he liked you and you just wanted a boyfriend so you settled with him; you ruined your life”

        “You didn’t have in love feelings with him and became sad and depressed when you started dating him; you gave up your aliveness and happiness in life so now you should give up on yourself”

        And many other variations of this revolving mainly around the lack of in love feelings/lack of attraction in the beginning, not making the choice I wanted and how I didn’t want to say yes to being his girlfriend.

        I don’t know if I wanted to say no 100% to him, at least a part of me wanted to say no because I thought love and aliveness was in the infatuation feelings.

        When I meet my shame with compassion and kindness I say “so what” to how We began dating and that it’s ok to not be perfect in my decision with him because look at the beautiful relationship that came out of this. My boyfriend is the most amazing person with the biggest heart and his values and his core self match mine tremendously and I often think that I actually can make more “me” choices that I want while being with him because he is so supportive of me and tries to help me open up to be the real me that I hid my whole life. Shame tends to come back saying “ you can think this is ok but the type of person you are wants to make your own choices that you really want and before you dated your boyfriend you said you’d never date anyone again who you didn’t have strong feelings for, so you gave up on yourself and are doomed to be miserable no matter what you think, and also this isn’t relationship anxiety it’s just you really not wanting to be with him and ruining your life just to stay”
        It’s been a long struggle and I often continue to shame myself rather than show myself compassion but I will work on this and hold my shame with all the love I know I have in me and allow myself to be the beautiful, imperfect woman I am and embrace my decision to be with my boyfriend because there’s no one better for me to be with and learn about love with and I don’t want to lose him.
        I really do hope all of these thoughts are just shame that can be healed and not me actually not loving him or wanting to leave-maybe I did want to leave in the beginning and I didn’t love him in the beginning but I don’t want to leave now and I do want to love him.

        Reply
        • This is textbook relationship anxiety, Kristen, and it’s quite clear that you love your partner deeply. The task now is to keep working with the projections and letting them lead you back to your own inner work.

          Reply
          • Thank you Sheryl! I needed to hear this so much 🙂 I am so grateful for you and your work! I will keep working with the projections and heal the wounds that are so ready to be healed!

            Reply
  6. Shame shows up for me after a breakup of five years. It’s been four months and I still blame myself every day. I know I contributed to the demise of the relationship by being jealous, anxious and insecure. I was not my best self because fear took over and my shame is rooted in my regrets. I don’t know how to love myself anymore because I feel so much shame for being the way that I was. I don’t know how to move forward and let go. The shame has caused me to feel deep unworthiness and also deepened my natural lack of self worth. Life feels impossible and it feels impossible to be kind to myself because I feel I do not deserve it.

    Reply
    • Of course you deserve to move forward and embrace life from here on out. The shame could be covering over deep grief and powerlessness, for as much as you may have contributed to the demise, relationships take two people to thrive and two to fail. I highly recommend reading two books to help with the shame and with the belief that you’re not worthy: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (for the regret piece) and The Choice by Dr Edith Eger for the task of being able to forgive yourself, grieve, and move forward.

      Reply
  7. My RA shame voice:

    – “You’re stuck. You’re with an amazing loving partner, and you can’t unhook. You should “just know” because he’s so amazing. Everyone else is getting married and you aren’t. You’ll try doing the work but won’t get through. Everyone else breaks through but you won’t be able to. Plus this is your second dose of going through relationship anxiety with your man, he doesn’t deserve you.”

    As I’m typing I’m crying because I can hear the shame and the fear. I’m off kilter and need to work towards not letting fear and shame run my life.

    As you said, the deeper the love the deeper the fear.

    Reply
    • How might you respond to this voice with love?

      Reply
      • You need to be kind to yourself and patient. You got through this once and slowly need to turn inwards. It’s okay the projection is on your man. You love him very much. It’s okay to have the thoughts, there may be uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean you actually want to leave.

        Reply
        • Good. Now notice how it feels to step into that part of yourself.

          Reply
  8. Thank you for your work Sheryl. After years of years of struggling with anxiety, and trying to put the puzzle pieces together on my own, you work is helping me build more self-trust by viewing where I’m in my journey as the perfect blueprint for my growth. SO THANK YOU! My ‘Shame Oyster’, as I call it, protects me from feeling unworthy. I have this insatiable desire to do ‘great things’ in life. To rid the world of all its sufferings. In spite of my full-time work and an active member of the community, nothing I do is ever enough in my harsh judgmental eyes. I push and push to constantly be more, do more. My shame clouds the little ripples of progress I make, so no matter what I do, I hardly ever celebrate. With an honest dialogue with my shame, I was released once more, from my ‘When I’ prison. It inspired me to indulge in creative writing. A reminder that anxiety can truly be a gift.

    ‘Shame Oyster’
    Today, as a wave of chaos arose, yet again,
    I braved to discover this rush in me, to shove all free time at hand with endless to do lists.
    To question why in spite of cramming in more and be more, I’m plagued by unfulfillment.
    My deep breaths prepared me to dive into the underworld of murky anxiety
    There I spot it, the Oyster of Shame, hiding in a corner.
    I swim closer, and ask “What are you trying to protect me from?”
    At first it looked away and hesitated, but eventually gave in,
    “Remember when you were 12 years old,
    When you didn’t score well in school and felt ordinary
    Got admission in ordinary colleges and felt ordinary
    And now this ordinary job.
    If all you be is who you are now, well that’s just, ordinary.
    Your life will stay nothing but ORDINARY.
    Its ONLY WHEN you do something worthwhile, something extraordinary, you’ll feel fulfilled…
    So, I’m here to protect you,
    To hurry you along, to push hard, work hard,
    I show up to remind you that if you rest, you’ll slacken
    All I want for you is to lead an extraordinary life, as soon as you can.”

    With a deep sigh, my true self replies,
    “Thank you, Shame Oyster for your service all these years,
    You see that caveat, ‘When I’. There’s no such thing as a perfect future
    So please free me. I must embrace who I’m in this moment.

    As the dialogue ends, the Shame softens, and the Oyster opens its mouth
    I see a reflection, glistening on a pearl within.
    Imperfect yet whole, ordinary yet unique, raw yet worthy,
    That is me.

    Each time I ride these waves
    I release me from my own shackles,
    I grow more to give more
    To make the whole world my oyster!

    Reply
    • This is so very beautiful, Guneet. It reminds me of our most recent episode of Gathering Gold where we talked about the goodness in an ordinary life, and how often the striving for extraordinary is an attempt to prove worthiness. Thank you for sharing your poetry with us, and the creative dialogue that can emerge when we move toward these scared and misguided protectors.

      Reply
      • Thank you Sheryl. My shame was always around feeling fearful of advancing my relationship… before getting pregnant for example or even now that we planning on getting married. My anxiety was never really projected onto my partner but onto the idea / the concept of my relationship. And shame for me came from associating this fear with my loving partner, like I was weak in some ways. Or responsible for causing pain.

        Reply
        • Yes, that makes so much sense, Mariam.

          Reply
  9. Shame shows up for me in all i “should” have done. In my relationships, even the one i have with myself. I shame myself for not being “perfect” and spend more time in the same cycle of feeding my ego, versus being compassionate and listening.
    How do you unlearn self-shame?
    I have known for a long time that the shame isn’t something i’m aligned with, but it takes so long to notice when I am stuck in the cycle..

    Reply
    • The first step is, as you’ve named, noticing. What we can notice we can replace with a more loving voice. It takes a lot of practice but eventually the new wiring sets in.

      Reply
  10. Thanks for this Sheryl. I have shame around avoiding making art, because when I do go into the art room I feel afraid, due to perfectionism – if I don’t like what I do straight away, I feel crucified. So there is shame about not being perfect, then shame about not feeling brave enough to ‘run the gauntlet’ and have a go, in case I get punished by the perfectionist. I have been aware of these parts of me for many years. The perfectionist part is saying ‘if you are not really good at this all of the time, you are not worthy’. My parents were not pushy around me being perfect…in fact they were always telling me to not try things I don’t already know how to do, in case I get it wrong. So I guess the fear of ‘getting it wrong’ is from cautious fear-filled parents. For some time I have been trying to cradle this part of me that feels she is only worthy if she ‘does not get it wrong’, but I am still finding I am afraid to go into the art room, and there is grief that after many years of working with this, I am still often not feeling safe enough to express myself in that way. I feel like the part of me that wants to express herself freely is still imprisoned. I have had some experiences of making art in a playful way without the perfectionist, and it is amazing. I want more of this !

    Reply
    • I want more of this for you, too, Faith! Have you tried this hack for working with the perfectionist around creativity? Give yourself full permission to fail, to create the worst piece of art you’ve ever created. Set that intention the minute you step into the art room and see what happens.

      Reply
      • Yes, I did try that but it was a long time ago and cannot re-call what happened. Maybe it went well and I blocked it out, in resistance to changing ! My first response when you suggested it was ‘I wont enjoy making a bad painting because I want to create things I like’. So I see from this that I am trying to get the enjoyment from the result and not the process, which of course is putting the cart before the horse. This is the journey for me – to let go and enjoy the process, with non attachment to a good result. So I will try the bad painting exercise and see.

        Reply
  11. I have realised by reading your article that I have so much shame. Particularly that I’m 36 and feel like I’m so unsure about what I’m doing! To be really honest, I have found going through life very difficult. Maybe because I’m highly sensitive and an empath who feels emotion all around me. I think it might be due to emotional neglect when I was young. I was making progress and now feel back in the dark shadows xxxx

    Reply
    • I’m sorry you’re in the dark shadows at the moment. It won’t last, but it’s so painful when we’re there. And yes, going through life as an HSP and empath whose gifts aren’t honored and channeled is very challenging. This is where reparenting comes in, and also making sure that you’re connected to other sensitives who understand the gifts and challenges of this particular temperament.

      Reply
      • Thank you Sheryl xx

        Reply
  12. I loved this article. I think shame has shown up for me as “shoulds” and “not enoughness” (though I only recently realized it was shame). Examples:

    – I shouldn’t feel this homesick starting college; I should be able to handle this.

    – I should know if this is anxiety or if I’m simply with the wrong person. I should feel more in love.

    – I should want to leave my career to stay with my kids. Maybe I couldn’t breastfeed my babies well because I didn’t make it enough of a priority.

    – I shouldn’t be having the same intrusive thought again; I should have worked through this by now.

    And the list goes on…

    Naming it as shame is so helpful and I also love the work of Brene Brown with shame vs. guilt. What I thought was mom guilt for so long was actually shame.

    Thank you, Sheryl!

    Reply
    • These are excellent, common, and painful examples of how shame shows up. Thank you for sharing them, Nicole. I hope you’re able to respond to them from a kind and loving part of you.

      Reply
  13. Thank you so much for this, Sheryl! This was EXACTLY what I needed to read right now! I have noticed just recently that whenever I have an anxious thought it is immediatedly followed by judgement and shame. “Why are you so scared of everything. No one else is as wussy as you.” It is also telling me that I am taking way too long on my healing journey. I need to speed up and fix this NOW or people will start to notice there is something wrong with me and then they will despise me, same way as I am despising myself at this level. That stress makes it twice as hard to deal with. But your article really helped me reframe it and it gave me a tool to work with this just as I needed it. So big thanks to you for your wisdom and thanks to the Universe for guiding me to read this article at this time. Much love, Anna

    Reply
    • I’m so glad the article arrive at the right time, Anna, and it sounds like you’ve been able to absorb the message, which will allow you to approach these voices with kindness and hopefully let them go.

      Reply
  14. I’m glad I kept this email in my inbox and finally got a chance to read it tonight.
    Shame shows up for me in a strange way. Many years ago, I was shamed by my caretaker for being sexually curious with a friend of mine at the age of 7. It shut down my whole body because she shamed us on a whole other level.

    Now somehow this wound is showing back up in the form of intrusive thoughts Like “Maybe your a Lesbian?” And then begins the dark cycle of obsessing over these thoughts and feeling afraid and ashamed that because I had that thought then it must be true.
    I get so stuck in the cycle, that I avoid any intimacy with myself and my husband. And I feel like I’m the only one with these strange thoughts and the struggle that comes along with them.

    Yet when I am not plagued by this shame, I feel strong and centered and know what is true for me.

    How does one begin to get to the core of that kind of shame?

    Reply
    • First off, this is a very common source of shame, as is the intrusive thought that latches onto that experience. It takes courage to share it and, in fact, sharing is part of the healing from shame, especially when you learn how common what you’re struggling with is. Keep naming the shame as a protective response. The more you name, the more you can feel into the core emotions that you’re protecting against.

      Reply
    • Alizee,

      Thank you for your comment. It was helpful for me to recognize a similar source of shame. When I was around 11/12 I watched a movie on lifetime about a girl who realized she was gay in high school. It really scared me because of how her sexuality was received in the movie, ultimately she was rejected by her parents and friends. I was terrified by this as a young person. To make matters worse my mom caught on to the content of the movie and reacted. She stormed over and turned off the tv and said “this is not appropriate.” I felt wrong for watching it in the first place. Then I started struggling with the intrusive thought “what if I’m a lesbian/gay?”I got the courage to ask my sister if she ever wondered if she was gay and she also reacted in a very “ew no why would you even ask that way.” I remember feeling alone, but mostly wrong for innocently watching the movie but then for my mom and sisters response to. Like something was wrong with me. As I have been doing inner work this intrusive thought has resurfaced. I know it’s protecting me from shame and many core feelings. I keep naming it as such but it is hard work. Sheryl has been such a source of comfort for me during my “dark night of the soul.”

      Reply
      • Sheryl! That’s so beautiful! Thank you for such wisdom (I know the comment comes a little late, but I really wanted to thank you as it brings me a new level of awareness).
        I never thought of “embracing” shame, just like I learned to do with frustration. Always thought of it as “dangerous”.

        Wonderful! Feeling much better already only by reading it! 🙂

        Reply
        • ❤️❤️❤️😊😊😊

          Reply

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