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Guilt and Shame

Shame On You!

I don't deserve to be happy! I'll never find anyone who loves me. I wouldn't dare expect to succeed because I don't want to be disappointed. If I expect the worst, I'll be okay when it gets here. Sound familiar? People who have dealt with substance issues and most folks who are survivors of any kind of abuse including neglect, often feel guilt and shame. This internalized guilt and shame is exactly what creates this self-dialog and , more importantly, ultimately keeps us from creating the lives we want and deserve. It's important to know that both guilt and shame are feelings that are projected on to you by another person. They are not emotions or feelings that have originated from within you in response to anything you may have done. When you do things that cause pain, you may feel remorse, sadness or grief, but not guilt or shame. Guilt and shame are both responses that others have about us which then get projected on to us. Unconsciously accept them as our own.

People in our lives project guilt or shame for lots of different reasons, most of which are fear based. Perhaps your spouse, who caught you flirting, feels you haven't suffered enough and therefore have not yet truly changed. Perhaps, a friend still harbors anger and wants you to hurt as much as they feel you hurt them. Maybe someone in your meeting feels you didn't go through the same trials and tribulations they did for similar kinds of behavior. Whatever the reason, be clear that feelings of shame and guilt are not yours. Whenever anyone projects those thoughts and words on to you, they are consciously or unconsciously doing so to disempower you.

Those of you who are still die hard non-believers about the impact of our words, thoughts and feelings, please do yourself a favor and visit this Internet site:

http://www.wellnessgoods.com/art_wat_messages.html

After seeing for yourself how thoughts and words change the molecular structure of water, perhaps you'll get the point.

Once you discover the guilt and shame don't belong to you, then energetically give these projections back to the person doing all the projecting. Set a boundary. Confront the issue with that person. "I get the impression that you don't feel my response to what has happened is appropriate or sincere. What is that about for you? Are you afraid? Are you angry?"

If you can't get out of feeling shame or blaming yourself, ask yourself if your motivation or purpose in facing your past behaviors is about self-punishment or healing. If it's about self-punishment then you need to know you can choose to spend a great deal of time beating yourself up and when you're finished you will be in exactly the same place from which you began - only you will be more depleted physically, emotionally and spiritually. Self-judgment is the primary emotion that cuts off feelings of spiritual connectedness and it does so instantly. You can't feel yourself, others, God, The Divine or Universal Energy, however you choose to perceive it, when you are into self-judgment. Instead you feel isolated, hopeless and alone. Some people need to beat themselves up as part of their process. If you choose to do it, set a limit. "I'll beat myself up for the next two weeks and then I'll move on." No, I am not kidding. Having a reasonable limit may be liberating and is certainly more just. Beating yourself up consciously is better than doing it unconsciously because you can set a fair limit to the behavior.

On the other hand, if your personal examination is about healing, then your first step is to be willing to feel the grief, sadness or remorse about your actions and let it go. That process naturally creates resolve. Use the breath, or tears, journaling, therapy or any other means to release the feelings as you breathe them out. Most of us have a tendency to stop breathing when intense feeling surfaces.

Third step is to get clear on exactly what it is that you are responsible for. No, you are not responsible for the fact that for x-number of years your partner was miserable. Even in the worst of relationships where one person is acting out in extremely destructive ways, the other person votes to stay in that destructive relationship. Why your partner, friend or family member stayed, or why they did not leave, is a question for them to work on in their personal process or in their therapy. It's not your issue.

We are individually responsible for the quality of our own lives and the decisions we make to enhance or diminish that quality. I can already hear all the "Yes Buts" in the letters I'll get on this issue. "Yes, but I'm the one who threw up all over the car!" Who chose to go pick you up? "Yes, but I said terrible things." Who chose to stay and listen? In any situation where two people are relating, even in destructive ways, it's always a fifty-fifty proposition. You get to have your part of the responsibility, but not all of it.

Letting others have their part of the responsibility doesn't get you off the hook. You still have to do the 10th step of making amends, but what does that mean exactly? Does making amends mean that you should keep beating yourself up in your process of apologizing? No! It means you own your behavior, you remain present and willing to listen to the pain it caused, and you sincerely apologize for your part in creating that pain. You can also, if it feels appropriate, talk about the steps you are taking to heal and what you hope for, if anything, in the form of a relationship with this person in the future. You can't change anything that happened in the past. That's how the universe works. If we get the lessons life offers us and go on, the past gets healed. If we don't, we repeat the patterns and the pain and continue to do so until we finally get the lesson.

Let's use an example of a child who runs into the street repeatedly after being told not to do so. The first couple of times mom scolds the child. Then, if the child still wont listen mom spanks the child. One day as the child begins to run into the street; suddenly the child sees a truck run over his or her toy wagon. The child, as she is standing in the street, finally understands why mom has been saying, "Don't run into the street." Would Mom still have to spank that child? No, once the lesson. has been learned there is no benefit to punishment. That is also true for you. Once the life lesson has been learned there is no need to continue punishing your self.

If you find yourself obsessing about the things you did in the past, you are probably doing so to unconsciously avoid feeling the real feelings underneath all that obsessing. Obsessive behavior is a defense mechanism we use to avoid feeling the underlying fear, anger or pain about an issue.

To get your power back and come fully into the healing process, use these four steps. (1) Stop judging yourself or others. Allow yourself to be a human being who is courageous enough to be dealing with life's most difficult lessons. (2) Stop Blaming, yourself or others. Understand that everything, even that which is painful, is spiritually correct and part of our learning process. (3) Don't go future pacing! Stop worrying about how your apologies will be received or how people will accept you or not accept you. You can't control either. (4) Stop past pacing! Don't hold on to anything beyond healing it. . The only place you can make a difference is right here, right now. What you do today will take care of tomorrow.



 

Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan - Coaching for Individuals and Couples
Telephone: (602)997-1200 FAX: (602)997-0970

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