The difference between someone who carries that shame in a healthy way and someone who wields it like a weapon, against themselves and other people, is denial.
Many people try to outsmart their shame by placing blame. They think they can unload that uncomfortable burden by passing it onto someone else, but what they are really doing is imprisoning themselves in a chronic shame loop.
Blame traps you in the victim archetype.
It is an act of self betrayal, because, in doing so, you are giving your power away.
It might seem like the easy way out, to blame your family or even the culture you were raised in for the way shame was implanted in you.
It might even give you a temporary sense of relief to say, "Look what you did to me!"
In fact- that may even be a natural step in the progression toward healing shame. I know it's a phase I went through...
But what you'll find out eventually is that it just doesn't work- not in a real, lasting way.
That kind of judgement only creates further separation, and when I say "separation", I mean separation from your self.
Shame separates you from the experience of your own soul and denies you the innate sense of wholeness you were meant to feel.
That's why, in the following video, I say that compassion and forgiveness are the two ingredients that need to be added into the mix in order to heal the legacy of shame...
I think that we are sometimes afraid to acknowledge shame, to actually feel it, because it is so painful and we're afraid that once we get into that pain it will last forever.
I am here to tell you that it will not.
Please trust me on this.
The moment you step into your pain and really get present with it is the moment it begins to transform.
The instant you locate where it is you are carrying that shame, where you store those feelings in your body, and really focus your attention there, saying, "Yes. I see you. I have compassion for you. I understand, and I forgive you."- the pain will start to move.
And- if you stay with it long enough, it will eventually move on and into a state of grace-filled release.
You may have to repeat this process many times over the years, but each time you do you will reach a greater level of wholeness and clarity.
And- let me be clear in saying that it's not about banishing the shame or escaping it.
It's about healing and integrating it into your experience in an entirely new way, creating more space in your heart for love and compassion to reside.
It will empower you, as it bestows a kind of wisdom that can only be had by those who are willing to own their pain and ultimately transmute their shame into a deeper sense of empathy, both for themselves and their fellow human beings.
It will endow you with compassion, and this is the alchemical work of the soul.
As for myself- I know beyond a shadow of a doubt (and have known for many years now) that my son came into this world through the filter of autism in order to be the angelic, healing presence that he is.
I was such a crazy-young mess when that baby was born, and I carry deep regret and shame around the way I behaved during the first years of his life.
I was resentful. I was angry. Selfish. Impatient. Rude. And- I can never take that back.
And- miraculously my son does not hold it against me.
I've apologized to him many times.
I apologize to him every time it comes up, and not in a needy, groveling way that fuels more shame. I simply show up if something triggers him about those early years, and we talk about it.
Keep in mind that there is still a language barrier between us, because of the autism, but his comprehension is there for anyone with a bit of patience and creativity. So- we are able to work around the limits of his speech.
I might, in a situation like that, say, "Is something scary or sad to you about when you were little?"
And he will sometimes say, "Yes."
That Yes is always hard to hear, but I do hear it and I always answer back, "I am so sorry, Tanner. I'm so sorry about that."
To which he replies with heart-breaking sincerity, "That's okay, Mom."
I was just driving home from my uncle's funeral this afternoon, listening to Robert Ohotto's latest show (an amazing, synchronistic match to what I am sharing here) in which he went into this whole story about this couple he once worked with.
Apparently, the wife was pregnant with a baby who had Down Syndrome and this couple wanted answers.
The mother wanted to know how she, as a devoted practitioner of the Law Of Attraction and a very good person who did everything "right", could have attracted such a child, and they wanted to know what they could do to transform him in utero, so that he would be born "normal".
And- what Ohotto had to say about that brought me to tears. It resonates so completely with what I just shared about my own son, and- I'm just paraphrasing, but here's the gist of what he said...
These children come into this world in a special state in order to help heal their family legacy and to help their parents transform.
Amen, Ohotto!!! I choose to believe that, because that's what my experience has been.
Special kids have a special purpose, and their parents get to be their soul's first assignment.
I'm not saying that's the ONLY reason these children incarnate onto the planet, to be of service to their parents. I'm just saying that might be their soul's first mission here...
To be honest, my first realization of that was almost unbearably humbling, and it was tempting to further shame myself, asking, "Why me? I don't deserve this kind of love. Why this beautiful little boy? Surely he deserves a better mother."
My ego just could not believe that I might be worth saving and this innocent child might be here on a mission of grace.
Now I know, I am and he was... he is!
He still is. That kid saves me every single day, and I know that I am truly blessed to be his mother.
I also know now that I am a good mother.
As Maya Angelou so eloquently said...
When you know better, you do better.
And- thanks to my son, I know better now.
Who in your life has blessed you with the opportunity to heal?
Did you accept that challenge or did you try to maneuver around it?
It's not too late, you know, to accept that challenge, even if that person is no longer in your life.
The gifts they gave you are yours to receive at any time, and the beautiful thing about gifts like this is that, once they are received, once you are able to fully accept them as the gifts they are, they become yours to give in turn.
From the gift of shame comes the gift of compassion, and that's how a new legacy is born.