Shame Is Contagious
Shame is a tricky emotion.
It can lead us to believe we are unworthy of good things happening to us, of love, or even of actually existing at all.
Other than a few amazing shame experts, like Brene Brown, nobody really talks about shame, because it feels big, kind of scary, and pushes on the most bruised parts of ourselves.
Shame is shifty.
It creeps into your life and grabs hold of you when you don’t even realize it. You might be surprised at what hidden corners of your life it hides in.
Shame is not an organic emotion. Nope, somebody planted that seed of shame within you, and any sense of shame you carry around are usually ideas that have been passed down to you by others – sometimes may even many generations old. You might feel embarrassed, experience remorse or guilt, all on your own. But shame – the deep seated belief that you are unworthy of belonging or connection – that does not grow within you all by itself.
Shame can be a something like shapeshifter, as way of it’s true source not being uncovered. Maybe your mom was shamed as a child as a form of discipline – “What’s wrong with you? You can’t do anything right!” So she grew up thinking she was a bad person, incapable of inherent goodness. As she grew into her role as a mother, her shame would leak out when things weren’t going quite right, and she’d try and control it. She’d then throw that control energy your way, and you’d catch it, sensing that somehow, you should be ashamed of the fact that your behavior wasn’t 100% controllable. Still the same shame, but the story or way it shows up has as it’s passed down the line has shifted.
And where did she get the notion that she should be ashamed of herself? Who taught her that? And where did those people learn to use shame as a discipline/control tactic? It’s the vicious cycle of shame.
Or maybe your dad felt shame about his appearance growing up because of something his high school sweetie said to him, and became obsessed with things looking perfect to outsiders as a way to stifle this feeling of shameful inadequacy. You pick up on this shame energy every time a hair is out of place, you have a stain on your shirt, or even when telling people about the job that you love – just because the ‘appearance’ isn’t perfect.
Where did his sweetie get that message? Who taught them to feel ashamed of looking things looking “imperfect”?
Shame is passed around, almost like a virus.
It is most highly spread through family systems, but it doesn’t have to be your parents who passed down the message of shame. You may be “infected” by a teacher, a neighbor, a friend, a bully.
Once you become aware of where shame may be hiding within, especially by noticing how the energy of shame might cause you to unconsciously try to take care of other people’s inadequacies. Breathe into it, feel it in your body, and see if you can notice some movement around where you notice it’s stuck in your body. Realize that the energy and space it’s been taking up doesn’t serve you, and you can use that energy for something else.
And – don’t be ashamed if it’s hard to let go of shame! Remember how sneaky it can be. This practice is one that you’ll want to revisit for years and years!
Want some help saying hello to the shame energy within? Book a session with Stacia for some intuitive guidance and transformation around this tricky emotion.