A while ago I had a realisation........for me it was a fairly powerful and personal realisation and I would like to share it with you in the hope that it may spark something within you. In the hope that it might encourage you to look at and own something about yourself that you may not be proud of. I hope this will help encourage you to shine a light on your shame and in doing so lead you to a future free of the bounds of shame.
Self assessment and self awareness are such important components of this journey called life but sometimes we can find things we don't want to see, things we don't like, things we are embarrassed about. We need to face these too and not just bury them in the misguided hope that this ignorance will help us move on.
Let me explain. This is my story....
I had been avoiding something for over a week that I really needed to do and I just couldn’t understand why I kept putting it off. It made no sense.
I was travelling with one of my children and about 2 weeks before we were due to fly I realised my AMEX card, which I wanted to use to check into hotels, had expired. It is actually my husband’s account and I have a secondary card, meaning I couldn’t call them I had to ask him to.
No big deal, he is a reasonable person and I had no reason to think he would mind, it wasn’t a problem at all but every time I went to ask him I just couldn’t.
I was feeling sick to the stomach about it, I was stressing about it constantly, it was actually ridiculous. Each day I would think I have to ask him today and then I just couldn’t. Time was starting to run out though so I knew I had to do it. Then one night I actually couldn’t sleep because of it.
This all made no sense .......... just call him!!
Finally I did, I felt sick about it but I did it. Of course he was fine and had it organised within ½ hour.
So what was going on. I really asked myself “why did I do this, why did I react this way?”
Now when I say he was fine he was, he was happy to do it but he did make a comment "Now you aren't going to run up a heap of money on it are you?"
Normally I would take offence at this comment, get hurt and say something back but I didn't. I actually looked at the comment and how it made me feel and I explored it, I explored my reaction.
Instead of judging his comment I accepted that due to my past actions he was entitled and maybe even justified to make this comment. Normally I would have 'defended' myself. This time I didn't, I accepted his response, after all it was his and he was entitled to it, and I started to think maybe I had some responsibility, some part, in creating this response, his response.
I sat with it and considered the whole scenario, I didn’t ignore it because it had now been worked out. I really felt like I needed to know why I acted and felt this way. I didn’t want to keep feeling like this. His almost flippant comment had made me realise my original feelings and reluctance were due to me and my actions and not at all related to fear of his reaction.
His comment triggered a feeling of responsibility in me instead of defence and instead of now feeling hurt I actually thank him for making that comment.
Then it came to me and the answer shocked me and didn’t at the same time.
I was scared to ask for his help in regards to the card because I was ashamed, I am still ashamed, about my financial history. It is time to put this shame to bed, to release it from my life.
So I asked "how do I free myself from this shame?"
"You face it, you shine a light on your shame,” was the answer that came so clearly. "You face it and own your part in the situation and then you can finally move forward without the shame dragging you backwards."
Now shining a light on your shame isn’t easy and we are so accustomed to doing the exact opposite that it can be challenging and I did wonder how on earth I could do this, how could I shine a light on my shame, was I even ready to do that?
As soon as I started facing this I also heard my inner self yelling, "Yes I’ve screwed up financially." But surprisingly it didn't feel like blame, it wasn't tinged with the poor me energy, I didn’t feel ashamed, it felt like a release, it felt freeing to allow those words to come from me, it felt like I was owning a part of me.
I spoke the words out loud. I spoke them loudly and clearly right where I stood.
"YES I'VE SCREWED UP FINANCIALLY."
Yes, I have made stupid, actually let me really own it, I have made really irresponsible financial decisions that have affected my family and usually I have done that to fill a void in me with things or to avoid uncomfortable situations or to make others happy and keep the peace, or to avoid conflict or confrontations.
Yes I’ve fucked up and I fucked up to protect me and take what felt like the easy road.
And I can sugar coat it all I like, but by putting a smile on my face and ignoring the situation in the misguided hope that others wouldn’t find out my secret, what felt like my dirty dark secret, I had turned these past mistakes into shame. And shame is an immensely powerful, negative emotion.
I had put this reality, this experience, this knowledge of my own behaviour and responsibility in a far away corner of my conscious mind and turned the light off, I chose not to look at it, I tried to ignore it completely, hoping it would then just go away. Given no attention, I thought, it would slink back into oblivion and I could move on.
What I didn’t know is shame is patient, shame is tenacious. Shame doesn’t shrink when you ignore it. It sits there in that dark corner and festers, it grows. Shame loves darkness, shame feeds off ignorance.
So now I am switching on the light!!
I am focusing the light squarely on my shame for all to see.
Yes I’ve stuffed up financially and as I finally shed light on this insidious emotion, as I acknowledged it and I admitted to it, I felt it receding.
It didn’t recede through ignorance, not because I had finally ignored it for long enough but because I finally looked it in the eyes and said “Yes, I fucked up, but I am still here and I’m a good person regardless. I am worth more than what you have held me back to be!”
Shame has no place when we willingly shine a light on our darkest corners.
I had worked on so many blocks and beliefs around money but I had never addressed the shame I felt. The shame that I felt in relation to my own actions and decisions.
This experience has opened my eyes to this shame, the shame I feel and deny, the shame that effects every financial decision and action all from the dark corner of denial.
No more, this ends now, I am no longer denying my role, my actions, my shame is now out in the light!! And by facing this shame I am then free to forgive me and the judgement I so fear from others also loses its power.
I can stand tall and move forward with my experiences to guide me and inspire others but free of the shame which holds me back and keeps me small.
Shining a light on my shame is what released its hold. I was so reluctant to bring it into the light but doing that feels freeing, shining a light on my shame actually feels great!!