Healthy Shame vs. Toxic Shame
In my walk, I have seen most people are experiencing toxic shame which shows up as looping patterns of feeling unworthy and wrong. They feel like they are a terrible person and have done a terrible thing, creating deeper feelings of being unworthy and wrong.
In our culture most people have not learned there is a difference when experiencing shame that is healthy and productive to help them stop a behavior or create a new pattern of behavior.
Toxic shame is counter-intuitive, not healthy and does not serve in healing. Toxic shame just adds another level to whatever issue the person is dealing with because toxic shame is disempowering and bad for our Soul. No wonder people want to avoid feeling shame!
Healthy shame, from my experience, is a real element of being human. We do things wrong. We make mistakes. Healthy shame is a real way of owning and being accountable for our mistakes, which is also part of our humanity. In healthy shame we are given the opportunity to go into our life lessons, in order to process, rectify, and learn from what we have done. Healthy shame is purposeful, serves to create change, cultivates healthy conviction, and has the ability to transform us.
In Healthy Shame...
● I can see what I have done wrong, or what I am currently doing that is not right for me. I can see the impact of my actions on others, because healthy shame clears up my ability to see myself.
● I feel and see how my actions are not aligned with me, my beliefs, or my true nature.
● I see myself and others with greater clarity because using healthy shame helps me stay open. Being open enables me to see and feel my life. This openness is where I go into the heart of my life lessons.
● I feel the burning sensation of healthy shame throughout my body, which may be concentrated around my chest and throat. This burning sensation is my natural emotional purification.
● If I use healthy shame to hold myself accountable, allowing myself to feel badly, to feel the burning sensation about what happened or what I did, this process can be part of my rectification. This is a natural way of redeeming myself energetically, physically, and emotionally if I am open, allowing the process to take its course.
● I am willing to stay open and experience healthy shame when it is needed.
● Healthy shame gives me energy to change. It burns up the emotional charge around what occurred, and clears up my energetic field. This process gives me more energy. I am not depleted.
● Healthy shame has the power to burn my life lessons through me so I learn those lessons in a deep and profound way.
● My openness to experiencing healthy shame naturally opens me to experiencing my life, my loved ones, and the people around me to a higher degree. I am more open because I am not hiding or avoiding things in order to avoid shame.
● This natural process is transformative! Healthy shame has a built in mechanism of cleansing, healing, learning, and transformation.
In Toxic Shame...
● I feel heavy, unworthy and I feel wrong. I am drained of energy. Irredeemable.
● I feel panicky or out of control. I feel futility and dread take me over. I feel deflated and depressed.
● My reality feels precarious and/or distorted. My life feels murky.
● I shouldn’t be here. I know better than this. I shouldn’t still be dealing with this. This shouldn’t have happened. I should know what to do. I need to fix this. I need to figure this out.
You are not supposed to know what to do here. This is Divine order that you do not know how to fix this. Your life is trying to move you into a new place. You have not been in this place, so it is unknown. You cannot know how to get there. Being open to not knowing helps break you out of the loop of toxic shame if you will allow it to.
● I am so collapsed on how wrong and bad I am it is hard to see myself and stay open. When I am in this collapsed place I cannot see all the potentials and lessons trying to unfold. I am just looping in my terrible feelings.
● I feel I cannot let others fully see me. I need to hide. I cannot expose parts of me that might make me feel deficient.
● I cannot really see the people in my life when I am so busy trying to hide and avoid truth. Most of my attention is on myself and managing what others might be seeing or thinking about me.
● This whole toxic reaction feels so terrible, I do whatever I can to avoid shame.
● The toxic process does not end. It recycles itself over and over and our shame gets deeper into our psyche. I can punish myself over the same thing forever.
● In this place of deep shame I feel sure others are making me feel bad and ashamed... they make me feel bad and wrong. Then I feel the need to defend myself... whatever is happening is not my fault! I feel terrible. Toxic shame scrambles and distorts what other people say to me. In my toxic shame I hear some form of criticism, scolding and condemnation in almost everything.
● Someone else must be to blame for how I feel or for what happened, because this is too much for me to handle or carry on my own. I feel victimized.
● I also feel like whatever occurs is my fault... in any given situation there is an underlying feeling I have done something. I may not even be sure what. I feel unease much of the time.
● Toxic shame makes me feel like I need to guard myself against others and life.
● I tell myself my toxic shame proves that I care. If I hold it long enough and feel terrible enough, this means I am truly sorry. This may even prove I am a good and worthy person.
● Toxic shame can be a built in mechanism to control others. The way this shows up is that my loved ones know without being told what triggers me into my toxic shame response. If they care about me they will avoid those trigger points.
Healthy shame is a powerful avenue in healing and transformation. Healing the most dark and wounded parts of yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your loved ones. If this article has awakened a desire to experience a new way of being, we would love to help guide you through your process of healing and transformation.
photos courtesy of morguefile.com/Sgarton; Natureworks
We quickly learn the game of life… hide your Shadow to be worthy and to have value...
If you feel the pull to look and see what is there waiting for you… we are excited for the opportunity to hold a teaching lecture on healing Shadow. Here is the key to the door... the door to your freedom… the freedom to show up in your aligned and authentic self… to be Real.
Our Shadow… real aspects of our human selves that are usually seen as imperfect… our ego, character flaws, weaknesses, negativity, wickedness, potentially evil, sinful… what is seen as the dark part of our humanity.
To be worthy... I’m supposed to be perfect and right. I should be nailing things in most areas of my life. I shouldn’t have real flaws, issues or problems. I need to be good only. I must prove myself worthy.
To have value… I need to be the best. If I am not the best I must cover this up with smoke and mirrors… illusions for self and others… don’t be caught out. I must not make mistakes. Be relevant, trendy and emanate youth… buy into our collective culture... in order to have value.
In order to avoid seeing, feeling or knowing we have a Shadow, we instead avoid our Shadow by covering it up... becoming perfectionistic, covert, passive aggressive, lying, distorting, blowing smoke, manipulating, dodging the truth, projecting, blaming, sabotaging and punishing anyone who gets too close to seeing our Shadow.
We are here to shine the light on our Shadow! We are here to heal all parts that have been banished… vibrating with the feeling of being irredeemable and wrong.
In processing and healing we learn to love, honor and respect all of ourselves… it is our Sacred mission to see the purpose of these aspects as part of our Soul’s lesson... from here we can surrender into the truth of healing.
When we are able to surrender into truth… going deeper into unadulterated truth the process of integration naturally unfolds. We can do this! Moment by moment and then minute by minute. Our intentional work with our Shadow helps to dissipate these negative aspects and we become more fully aligned and full of our authentic selves.
It is time to remember and to own... we are accountable for ourselves and our lives. The reality is we are responsible for our choices and for what we have created. This is not punitive, this is the truth and the way to live in integrity. It is beautiful to own our actions and to rectify when needed. This is how mature wise adults are created.
People might be thinking, of course we are responsible for our lives, but we are asking for people to know this all the way through their being and to live it. When living in ownership of our lives we create more alignment with our authentic and Higher Selves. This creates more clarity... the ability to hear my own knowing and guidance... my internal compass... when I am living from this place I am free.
We invite you into the beautiful awareness... when we learn to embrace and to welcome our Shadow… to shine the light on our Shadow we become whole. When we are no longer afraid of aspects of ourselves we no longer have to run to cover ourselves up emotionally, Spiritually or psychologically.
This has been an ongoing part of my work with Reese in her walk into healing and transformation. Teaching her to love and to own all parts of herself including her Shadow. This has been a big aspect of my work. When we go deeper into healing, these thoughts, beliefs and feelings start naturally showing themselves.
The feeling state of being right in order to have worth is also a common way of being. Being right becomes everything, our egos become attached to being right. When our egos are leading us instead of our Higher Selves we look for our worth outside of ourselves and in what we can do right. Ego correcting, critiquing and evaluating fulfill our right quota. The better we are at right the more worth we perceive that we gain. The more worthy we become to our mind.
This is a slippery slope, because it isn’t Real and can be taken at any moment by anyone. This is an illusion of worth. Here is a test... think about doing something really wrong in a big way out in the open... where people can see you. Annihilation is what a lot of people feel just by the thought of doing this.
It is time to see the truth of what we came here to learn and experience. This is our Sacred lesson in humanity and Shadow work.
We are here with the intention to learn and to evolve our Souls. We are on a purposeful journey to experience our Shadow and to experience contrast. Another part of our journey is finding our way back to our authentic selves… our own knowing and truth... to follow Spirit no matter where Spirit leads us. To learn to offer our unique selves and gifts to the world and not allow the world or our society to lead us.
We must learn to follow our own knowing, truth, values and Higher Selves. Our own integrity must be our compass… from within out to the world. Not from the world in… this creates varying degrees of shallow sheep. A world of out of touch followers lacking the backbone and integrity to do what is right… what is just. Standing by in the face of evil and injustice is wrong.
Illusion and distortion… what our society has come to view as worthy or valuable...
Our social collective’s idea of what things mean through the shallow and superficial scope of how things look… in contrast to what is Real. This is a powerful and purposeful lesson in contrast.
We are hammered daily by a barrage of… what is good, right, hip or trendy… magazines, commercials, ads everywhere including social media, of what we should look like or be like.
Instead of coming from inside-out to determine what our attributes uniquely mean for each of us, we are looking outside ourselves for some standard of rightness and perfection.
From the outside standard, an idea is created in our mind but this is not our own internal value or expression. This is a product of our micro or macro culture. Time to wake up and be Real. It is time to heal and walk in truth. Time to welcome and heal our Shadow and live in alignment with our Souls.
We are not saying it is bad to be influenced by our culture, we are of course influenced in all sorts of ways and this is a necessary part of living. The point is to have our compass from within... we need to be the authority of our own lives. Being steered from the outside undermines our ability to see, feel and express the fullness and uniqueness of who we are.
We may have a vague, uneasy awareness that layers of ourselves exist outside our conscious knowing and it feels safer to keep those layers down in the depths, out of sight. However, the Shadow shows itself in our trigger points, self-sabotage, in our relationships, jobs and daily living.
We may feel how can I possibly embrace my Shadow with this underlying belief and feeling that says... I have to get things right to have worth and value… I need to… I must. I can’t just show up and offer my Real self… I have to show up in my perfectionist, ego critiquing and evaluating self… being right and worthy in all the ways society worships. Trendy, cool, attractive, inauthentically nice, right clothes, right cars, right houses and right schools. We go into debt to be right and to have worth.
Most of us already feel somewhat substandard in how we are dealing with the parts of our lives we can see. Trying to get our ducks in a row in areas of our daily existence is keeping us occupied, even overwhelmed.
Under these conditions, who has energy to deal with their Shadow or any other issues we have that feel too threatening, ugly or wrong?
We have seen that this belief in being right and perfect takes many forms, sounding different based on individual personality or cloaking itself under feelings that seem more self-accepting and gracious… no worries, we can’t always be perfect. Don’t stress over it. Or I am not going to stress over it... I did my best. It wasn’t my fault.
These statements made in authenticity, grounded in our Real selves are beautiful and healthy. What we are trying to bring forward is the understanding that there is a big difference when these statements are made to cover our ego perfection or made in order to sound like we are saying the right thing. This becomes a way of being right not Real. It is time to be Real not right.
When we have not healed and welcomed our Shadow we must be open to seeing… time to feel for yourself what is at work underneath your grace. Often what is rooted in grace and understanding is some measurement of rightness and perfection. Even if we are resigned to the truth that we cannot nail everything, we still tend to feel badly that we cannot.
Underneath the grace… most people struggle with some level of feeling they should be perfect or they are at fault. Hiding our Shadow drives us to strive for perfectionism. Welcome your Shadow and welcome parts of yourself home.
Instead of trying to be right or perfect, what would happen if we were to view being wrong or imperfect as the needed lesson we are to experience and learn from? Intellectually we may say... I know I’m supposed to learn, that is obvious. But for some people there is a feeling deep down in their bodies, a distorted feeling state that says... I shouldn't have to be learning, I should already be nailing it.
Other variations of this might sound like… I should be done with this by now. Why is this still happening to me? I must be doing it wrong. My lessons are terrible. I feel ashamed that I needed to learn this. I should know this already. It must be because I’m doing something wrong that I still have lessons to learn. Truth… we will always be learning, get over it!
What if we were to embrace our feelings of vulnerability and exposure that come up when we are going through our needed and purposeful lessons?
What if we challenge the feeling that we are having lessons because we are failing? If I were doing this right I wouldn’t need to learn a lesson. Let’s change our lives… open up to truth and the beauty of learning about ourselves… about our Real selves. Welcome Shadow… welcome.
Let’s start encouraging ourselves... I needed to experience this lesson healing my Shadow... Seeing and welcoming all of me… I will live and learn to love my imperfect self… I have worth no matter what… My Real self is worthy… It doesn’t matter that something wrong occurred... I’ll own it and be accountable. I’ll rectify if needed. I’ll create my authentic aligned way of being… Me. I needed to experience all of this!
This is my Soul’s Divine lesson and I’m here to experience this Sacred walk called Life.
A quote from Karen… One of the greatest gifts I can give myself is to see myself… including my Shadow.
Having a new perspective about our negative aspects can help us to realize there is a beautiful gift underneath what feels wrong. One of the things we encourage people to do is to see and love all aspects of themselves.
What if we were willing to lift up our Shadow and ask with great anticipation… what beautiful gifts are waiting for me to see and learn from? If I am willing to see, heal and love my Shadow… creating a new way of being… Real… can I help heal our world? This willing place vibrates with the potential to balance, shift and transform us into another way of being.
The truth… when we are willing to love our Shadow and see what gifts and lessons are held there, the potential for alignment with ourselves unfolds exponentially. The heart of the matter is being willing to go into what is there... being willing to love all aspects of ourselves... seeing all as purposeful… Sacred... beautiful... and serving our Soul’s lessons.
The wholeness of our humanity also includes the influence of our Shadow or negative hidden aspects. When our Shadow has been hidden, covered over and is unseen, it is nevertheless still powerfully influencing our lives. This is what most people are living… unconsciously. Beautiful... now it is time to wake up and welcome all of you... conscious awareness.
In this state we are not running or trying to hide things from ourselves and others. We can be at home in our bodies and feel more deeply grounded. We naturally offer more of our Real selves when we are not hiding. Are you willing to see, own and welcome your Shadow?
Photos... pippalunacy.com & morguefile.com/cooee
Teacher, Healer, Intuitive
Teaching people how to heal themselves.