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Journal 5 Shame
What you Become
Weaknesses – Strengths
1 ~ I have learned how, over the years, that my judgmental opinions can be very damaging to my relationships. I’ve been called spoiled. Not in the way of material things but in knowing what I want and getting angry when things do not go my way. My temper tantrums sometimes come in a manner of “bitching & complaining” and throwing the f-bomb. I find I am at my worst when I am in the company of someone who is partaking in inappropriate (my opinion), or annoying (again, my opinion) behavior. What I am working on: Being aware of my judgment as it is happening. I notice this feeling in my body that is a solid, dark blockage right in the center of my core. It’s a blockage that seems to have been there for a very long time but I am just beginning to notice it. I try stopping my judgmental mind it by telling myself to do so (many times, I am not successful). I try returning to the present moment and finding my bliss. However, that blockage exists and my quest is to some how set it free. I have learned that the downside of being opinionated and judgmental is that, in my righteousness, I end up isolating myself, which can be very lonely. These behaviors, which I possess, makes having relationships with significant others very difficult for me to maintain. I am a work in progress and will be for as many lifetimes as it takes!
Fear & Anxiety
Soul versus Ego
1 ~ This is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately, am I going into mental health counseling as a career because I genuinely want to. I am always questioning whether or not I am on the right track in life, one of my biggest fears is that I am not. It is really hard for me to say I know anything for sure about myself, trusting myself is one of the biggest things I struggle with and can pretty much explain almost every single issue I have. Most of my anxieties center around my body feeling off, which I have just figured out comes down to me not trusting myself to know when something is seriously wrong or not. In social situations, I am always questioning whether or not I am saying/doing the right thing and if people like me, which I am starting to realize is a reflection of not trusting that I am a good and fun person to be around, and that most of all not trusting that being myself is enough.
With all the self questioning I do, even the things I know I want and that are from my soul I find it hard not to question, like my life’s purpose. I know in my heart that I am meant to be doing this and that I love the work I am doing and will be doing; I know that in some way I am going to be able to make good of all the bad anxiety and mental health issues I have experienced by using my experiences to help other people, but it is incredibly hard for me to not question it when that is what I have been doing to every single part of me for as long as I remember, I feel like it is ingrained at me at this point.
I am trying to figure out where this all stems from but my mind kind of goes blank when I try to, probably a defense mechanism to the pain and anger that I am sure comes from those memories. I tried closing my eyes and thinking about the people and the things that have caused me to question everything, and the first thing I saw was my dad. I do not trust him and I never have from a very young age. I have always felt that I am on the bottom of his priority list and that has made it difficult to trust him, or any changes in his behavior that say differently about him.
The only thing I could and still trust from him is that he will give me academic and career validation. When he doesn’t pay any attention to any other thing I do in my life, it makes me feel unworthy. He shows me that validation and attention that I have been seeking my entire life from him when I talk about my grades, classes and things I am doing to further my future career, and I finally feel worthy in his eyes, which is why I think I always question whether or not I am studying and doing all this career work because I genuinely love it and that it’s my life purpose, or if its because it is the only time my dad shows any kind of validation and that he is proud of me. I hate you dad and I love you. These are my conflicting emotions. Both are very painful and come with guilt.
Thinking back to high school, I think that this is the main reason I always took school and grades way more seriously than most of the people around me. I would take advanced placement classes that I didn’t even like or care about, but I knew my dad would tell me how proud of me he was if I took them and got good grades. I felt this way about every class except one, AP Psychology. For the first time, I didn’t give two fucks about telling my dad about my good grades or AP scores, for the first time I didn’t want to study to get good grades, but because I actually loved it.
That is what has helped me figure out that this is what my soul is telling me to do, that there is no other reason for me studying, taking classes, or doing my internships besides that I absolutely love it and that I know I can make a difference with this. It is hard to stop the constant rumination of questioning myself in mind, but as I do more work in this field, it is getting easier to shut it down and remind myself that this is what I genuinely love to do and that I KNOW that this is my purpose.
The Present Moment
Grow your Wisdom
1 ~ I am a big Bear ~ As a woman in my 50s, I have been battling with this inner and ongoing dissonance. From a young age, I was taught (by almost all aspects of my environment) what is considered “proper” as far as appropriate feminine behavior-what is acceptable and what is shameful. For example, the women in my family instilled that, “You need to act and dress a certain way, or no man will want you. And if no man wants you, how will you live a good life?” The only way my family would pay for college is if I went to a school to meet a man with very high earning potential. I became enraged at the idea and did not agree to their terms (I am proud of the fact that I finally made it into an undergrad program of my choice, at the age of 24; and I met my husband at a Halloween party in a bar 😉
Although I fought for my education, I internalized that my self-worth was based on how men viewed me. Intellectually, I now know that this is so very wrong and so harmful. This protestant-based, cultural belief system kept me, for a very longtime, as an object for others to judge.
From this lifelong shaming internalization, I became a chronic dieter, semi self-loather, and a chronic self-judger-specifically about my appearance and politeness.
When I began to make a shift to stand up for my core being, myself-worth, I started to set boundaries with what I am okay with and what I am not okay with. Then the external cultural structure began to push back on my new inner confidence. You are selfish, opinionated, too strong for a female, unlikeable, a bitch (you can add more here).
As a woman, have you ever noticed that when you are practicing self-care, all of a sudden, others are quickly attaching labels to you? Unfortunately, I expect labels to come from men as a fear-based response to messing with their patriarchal society; but what really kills me is when harmful and judgmental labels come from other [oppressed] women. Again, a fear-based response often materializing as gossip, shaming, and shunning. As Ruiz states in his book, The Four Agreements, the labels are not about me, but comes from the inner prison in which the judgers live. Again, easy to intellectualize Ruiz’s concepts of how people are not accepting of others uniqueness and special gifts, but very difficult to apply (read his book. It is very good).
So, what gets in the way of letting go of this lifelong internalization? What prevents me (and you) from being completely okay with who I am, just the way I am, while still being a work in progress? Guilt!! The more I feel guilty (and fearful) about being okay with my boundaries and self-care, the angrier I get. Over the years, I have learned that my anger is a secondary emotion that covers up my internalized guilt and shame; in other words, what I am doing is bad (guilt), or others will think I am a bad person (shame).
Very recently, I decided to take a deeper dive into my internal cognitive dissonance. I have been working deliberately and mindfully on my self-punitive guilt, experiencing the physical aspect of guilt, and then trying to get rid of these debilitating emotions. What is helping me the most to overcome this suppressive guilt which I create, is switching from “I am a bad person” to “this is not my fucking guilt! I wasn’t born feeling this way. I was programmed this way. My guilt is not me!”
Saying this helps, but it is not enough to get to the deep, unyielding, and necessary self-deprogramming.
What really helps me now, is when I imagined I am a bear. A really big bear! Bears do not feel guilty for behaving like a bear. If you piss off a bear, the bear will take you down. A bear has set boundaries with what they are okay with and what they are not okay with, “mess with my cubs and you are done.” There is no debate, no shame, and especially no guilt. Bears have boundaries that you cannot cross. After a bear attacks you for being stupid and trying to get a close up, they don’t go to their friends, family, and therapist and say, “Oh no! I ate this human. I know he was being an arrogant ass, but I feel so guilty. How do I live with myself? I am a sinner. I should know better and be a nice and understanding bear. What will people think?” Bears do not internalize guilt, shame, and unworthiness. They are clear with their boundaries. I now channel my inner bear!
I am now clear with my boundaries (don’t treat me poorly or I will no longer be part of your life) but I feel bad about maintaining them (guilt). When I set this hard boundary, people on the receiving end always push back with criticism, labels, gossip, attacks on my character, and blaming me for how their life has turned out, “my unhappiness all started when you…” fill in the blank. They use what I call manipulative guilt against me. I am proud to say that I no longer internalize these fear-based attacks.
By using the bear analogy, I use the authentic power it gives me (as my BFF would say, “your inner animal spirit”) to not base my self-worth and values on other people’s opinions. When I am the bear, I am giving myself permission to be totally okay with my choices and not let the external world penetrate my soul, my core being, my humanity. Find your inner strength, have integrity, care about humanity, and tend to your own internal and fear-based problems.
1 ~ So, practicing compassion, when life is hard, hits home for me. I have some family members who are very big personalities who use substances and controlling others as their way of living. I have let compassion for a couple of a close family members push me into a “victim” situation.
No longer am I their victim or do I have compassion for their meanness. However, I do feel compassion for one of my family members, as he feels his only worth is in his money and I think that is a lonely way to think.
But there is no reason for any of the members of my family to treat me less than who I am. That does not mean I fight with them. I walk away when necessary and I do not react nor engage with their negativity. Even when they choose to hurt each other, I no longer intervene because they do not want to help themselves. Therefore, the abuse only changes if I am present and I stop it. But as you know, that won’t last. And it changes nothing.
I have spent many years of my life as both the witness and the victim of abuse, and it took me years and reaching out for help to realize I have the power within me to keep myself safe. I also learned that I cannot protect the other women in my family if they are choosing to stay with the abuser.
I want to add that I practice daily thanks and gratefulness to my higher being, whom I refer to as God, which feeds my soul. If not for the path God has chosen for me, I would still be of a victim mindset and not free to achieve my dreams and know that I am worthy. And thank you to Catherine, for shining a light on my path when I have needed it.
So, If I only had one week to live, this is the wisdom I would share: Learn something new every day. Open your mind and be curious about the world around us and the people in it WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. Have compassion for others even when it is hard. Practice gratefulness every day. Remember, that it is impossible to be angry and grateful at the same time.
And most important, live the life you want to live, not from what others tell you or try to guilt you into living. Stand up for choices and your peace. Find your power now so your life doesn’t end with you, having lived your life as the victim.
1 ~ Professional Athlete: From the Female Perspective ~ I have struggled with understanding what it means to surrender in the moment. This has been especially apparent in my athletic training and performance. I had always interpreted a surrender as a black hole. If I was to give into the fact that I did poorly, and accept it, then I felt I was giving up. So I would fight the feeling, wherever it arose, or wallow in the feeling that I failed if I surrendered to it.
As a part of my athletic sponsorship at the beginning of this past year, I had talked to my sponsor about what my pitch was, trying to capture the essence of myself as a person, and athlete, and why my sport was so important to me. I tried to dive into what motivates me. And what I realized was that it was resistance. Unfortunately, with this as a key motivator, it has led to significant ups and significant downs prior to this season. If I failed at a competition, I would become immediately obsessed with what to do better, and criticize myself for what I did. I would avoid the thought of realizing that in the moment, I had failed. It characterized me as an athlete. It would carry from event to event, wallowing in the last as a failure. I just couldn’t move on.
I started to realize that resistance just wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I got a back injury, then an elbow injury, then I wasn’t enjoying competing, and I wasn’t even able to celebrate the wins. When I started to think about it deeper, I realized this resistance was rooted in defying femininity, or what I had been taught it was to be feminine, and my childhood criticism of being too intense, too rigid, and being incapable of “going with the flow”.
When I was in college, and I became introduced to the sport, my male friends would be the ones that were asked to move equipment, setup blocks, sell and buy equipment, learn the trade, and were really the focus of entertainment in the sport. I was totally ok with this, dubbing it “perks of sexism” that they would do all the work and I could benefit from it. That’s how I was raised. However, I started to realize, I didn’t know how to train on my own, get equipment, or be independent. I wasn’t even strong enough in some cases, or thought I was, anyways. Realizing what a deficit I was in, I started to do my own equipment setup, build muscle to be able to move equipment around, and learn the trade for myself, I fulfilled my childhood need to rebel against the walls, expectations, and controls that others tried to place on me for who I am at face value – a woman.
I was actually internally fearful that I couldn’t do things on my own, that I was too dependent, and I wasn’t strong enough. It wasn’t about the limits others had placed on me, it was the limits I had learned to place on myself. Unfortunately, the resistance had ignited a push to do all of it at once, and it had caused me to go to an extreme. I became egotistical at the fact that I could do things on my own, ignoring the advice others gave me, thinking I could just win without putting in all the work it takes to do well, and turned down help I could’ve afforded with carrying equipment and ended up damaging some of my own from taking on too much. I became so focused on the fact that in my head I was so independent, and that I could inspire others to do the same if I was able to get through to them, instead of focusing on just doing well in the sport as a person, to inspire others to do the same thing. I was people-pleasing instead of focusing on fulfilling my inner spirit. The irony is, I was strong enough, determined enough, and capable enough to do all of it on my own the whole time.
As I became aware of my resistance, and lack of acceptance, I compare it to passion. Passion can be an empty feeling, a burning sensation that does not last and may not have any form of continuity. I tried to shift from a passion-based resistance guided motivation to consistency and competing from the heart. I started to accept that there are days when I’m not extremely passionate, and I don’t have this burning sensation to train and be amazing. And maybe there are reasons for that I have to accept. So I started to fail, and recognized the failure is ok. It’s an opportunity to learn, to understand the factors that may have caused it, and accept that failure once doesn’t mean failure all together. It can be a success, in of itself.
My inner spirit has recognized that there are aspects of this that are positive, the training and the competing and the sport pushed me to do things I never knew I could do, and I had joy in knowing I could outdo my own expectations I had for myself. Beyond that, I could experience the outdoors, go on adventures and travel and meet new people, have a goal for my workouts, have an outlet for my intensity and need for physical movement, and learn to listen to my body and mind and build a sharp connection between the two of them. As I have accepted and surrendered to the moment at each competition or training session, and let myself have the space to do so, I have dialed in my understanding of myself, my capabilities, my body, and even further, my potential. I am able to enjoy the sport more, become distracted less, and fulfill my inner spirit.
1 ~ You would be enveloped in darkness. So dark that the senses are useless. Lack of anything – Not silent,
sound just doesn’t exist. It is dense, like a black hole. Nothing can escape, and it takes over anything that comes near it.
I am there somewhere. Trapped. I have no body, yet all of my extremities are here and paralyzed. I am
glued down in a tar pit, unable to move. I scream for help in terror, but no one comes. No one can hear me. I can’t even hear me. There is no sound. No light. No feeling.
But if you dig deeper, inside that person trapped inside me, there is a happy, playful child. A sense of
humor – although a bit edgy and racist. The child wants to play in the woods, climb trees, laugh with
The child wants to be taken care of. Needs to be taken care of. It is dying – like a plant without water or
sunlight. The child is no longer happy, just surviving. Desperate to find water or light. But it is trapped –rooted to the ground. It wants to help itself – not be helpless– but it doesn’t know how.
I don’t want to be helpless, but I still feel it.
Seen, Heard, & Valued
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