I’m not really sure how to stop my own feelings of unworthiness. I don’t have the magic pill or missing puzzle piece. However, I do have some insight that have helped me on my journey.
Some days I have a handle on it, and then bam, out of the blue, something happens. Perhaps it’s a trigger, a memory, or fear comes from some unknown place. For me, it seems like riding a wave, sometimes I have my balance and sometimes I get swallowed up in the wave. However, l don’t get swept away with shame near as much as I used to. I hope the following thoughts can help you grow and heal.
Humans are communal. We get love and support from our communities, and when the majority of us refuse to talk about their own feelings of shame and self hatred, then the rest of us feel extremely isolated. Furthermore, we feel like we are even more messed up because no one talks about it. So, I’m going to talk about my STRUGGLE with self loathing and unworthiness. I hope that it can be helpful to someone else.
“Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been; yoga cares about the person you are becoming”
When shame becomes toxic, it can ruin our lives. Everyone experiences shame at one time another. It’s an emotion with physical symptoms like any other that come and go, but when it’s severe, it can be extremely painful. Strong feelings of shame stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, causing a fight/flight/freeze reaction. We feel exposed and want to hide or react with rage, while feeling profoundly alienated from others and good parts of ourselves. The fundamental underlying message of shame is “I’m not lovable- not worthy of connection”. Typically these toxic shaming feelings are a result of trauma, abuse, or neglect.
Over the past 5 years, here are the things that have helped me:
I may not even have the words to express how deeply and profoundly that Deanna changed the direction of my life. Deanna was my counselor during my abusive marriage to Brian, and continued after his death. She was one the top 3 people I called immediately following his passing. We met every Wednesday for five years, 260 weeks at 4:30 pm. She was my life line. I was able to tell her 100% of what happened during our marriage, and also the events surrounding his Suicide. Deanna knows things that know other person on earth knows.
Every week I would come in, and sit in the same chair next to an end table. On the table was a small 8” by 8” tray with fine sand in it. That was my place, my sand, and my heart space. Every week I would start by playing in the sand with the tiny little bamboo rake, drawing, smoothing, or raking the sand in about every way imaginable. Some days I could talk, some days I would cry and pace the room, and play in the sand. Deanna gave me the tools, self confidence, and probably most importantly, love to take baby steps back into my life. This was an integral part in closing the gap of self hatred.
Spirituality and Faith
Through the practice of yoga I found myself deeply connected in eastern religious such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Though these philosophies and practices, I was able to nurture and work towards forgiving myself. Forgiveness is a vital step to breaking the chains of shame. Furthermore, through meditation, breath work, and asana (they physical postures), I began to love myself and cultivate my own joy. Regardless of you religious or spiritual beliefs, I believe they are vital to healing the wounds that are behind the shame and unworthiness we carry.
Finding My Tribe
In the immediate months after Brian died, I could not listen to music. I’m talking about zero music. The radio was banned in my car, I wouldn’t let me kids listen to anything. The music that blared over the speaker in stores and malls, could bring me to my knees. Also, things that normally did not cause an emotionally reaction, did. For example, music, news stories, people, babies and children, and sometimes the air itself. Consequently, I systemically weeded people, stories, and even advertisements out of my news feeds on social media. TV commercials and shows or movies I used to watch, were now like hot daggers in my heart. So, I cut them out.
This was the beginning of finding “my tribe”. I unfriended people on Facebook if they posted sad or hateful things. I just couldn’t deal with any sad, grumpy, negative, or critical things in my life. Consequently, this was a natural path to meeting people and making connections that were uplifting and soul filling. By filtering out negative patterns, unkindness, and even violence, I found my tribe of people and experiences that were healthy for me.
Stop hanging out with people who are not like minded, who put you down, and/or who constantly have spew negativity. Finding my peeps, and learning to let go of those who don’t bring me joy or add value to my life has enabled my to see the good inside myself. As a result, finding my tribe is one part of my journey towards less shame and blame.