Dismantling Shame

You alone are enough.  You have nothing to prove to anybody.  Maya Angelou

Guilt is a healthy emotional response that helps us to stay on track because we know we made a mistake and we want to behave differently in the future.   Shame on the other hand is the belief that we are a mistake and the erroneous idea in our heads that we don’t measure up.  Guilt reminds us that we did something bad,” while shame tells us that we are bad.  It is that voice that says, “I’m not a good parent” or “I’m not a good enough teacher.”  Shame wants us to feel like we are flawed, we don’t measure up, and are not good enough. But do we really know what others are thinking about us? The truth is that any thoughts or opinions we believe others have of us are imaginary.  And even if someone does not like us, we have to remind ourselves that we can’t control what others say about us, but what is in our hands is the choice to see our beauty and to love ourselves!  When we go to that place of shame we constantly question whether someone values us and whether we are worth loving.

In our current culture perfectionism has been turned into an intrinsic value.  We watch shows on HGTV with houses that are flawlessly decorated, we open up magazines with air-brushed bodies, and we go on a friend’s facebook page and view pictures of a seemingly perfect marriage and vacation.  While media and advertisers turn perfectionism into a commodity, the result of this is that we look at ourselves, our homes, and our families and decide that somehow we don’t measure up.  Perfectionism intensifies our feelings of inadequacy because we falsely believe that if our bodies, homes, cars, marriages, vacations, and lives are perfect enough than we are worthy of love.  Our pursuit of perfectionism actually intensifies our shame and leads to greater levels of anxiety and self-loathing. The truth about perfectionism that it is exhausting.  We are constantly in the pursuit of pursuing our worth instead of realizing that we are enough, just as we are.

  • What if instead of trying to make our marriages appear perfect on social media, we admitted that marriage is hard?
  • What if in lieu of trying to have a perfect body, we saw how beautiful our bodies already are?
  • What if our alternative to obsessing about whether a colleague likes us, is to think of the people who do have regard for us in our lives?

I invite you to do something that may feel a little out of your comfort zone.  Go and find a mirror or simply use the camera on your phone and look at yourself and say out loud:

  • I am enough
  • I am beautiful
  • I am worthy

Whenever you find yourself feeling shame, I encourage you to call a trusted friend who accepts you just as you are and admit to them the feelings of shame you have, and when you do this I bet you will find that they too have had their own struggles of feeling not good enough.  Unless someone is a socio-path, shame is something that haunts all of us and it can really help to verbalize our shame to a friend. But if our friend doesn’t answer the phone, we also can combat our negative shame-filled thoughts by saying this mantra again to ourselves: “I am enough…I am beautiful…I am worthy.”

Let’s dismantle our shame by naming it and claiming our beauty and worth,

Christy

Meditations for your mental, physical, and spiritual health

Living Generously

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.  Proverbs 11:25

In generosity and helping others be like the river.  Rumi

When I was a child my family went through two floods in Jackson, Mississippi, first in 1979 and later in 1983. I was only a baby during the first flood and then was four years old during the second flood. I have limited memories of the second flood, but what I do remember is that this was a very anxiety ridden time for my parents and also for me and my brothers. Over the years my mom has shared memories of the generosity that was poured out to us and members of the Jackson community during this time. In the aftermath of the floods, my family received help and support from non-profit companies like The Salvation Army and The American Red Cross, but also from for-profit businesses like General Electric and Avon. My parents did not fit the typical profile of people who we would think need help. My mom and dad owned their own home and my college educated dad worked as an insurance manager, while my mom had a masters degree and was a stay at home mom.  And despite my family’s economic advantages, my parents were hit by unexpected floods, without flood insurance, and in need of support.

My mom remembers The American Red Cross giving us a voucher to buy a new mattress and bed frame. She also has recounted to me a memory of The Salvation Army providing small appliances and clothing that had been donated from General Electric and Avon. A local church in Jackson helped by offering free childcare for flood victims’ families, which my parents were able to utilize.  In the midst of a despairing situation, organizations like The Salvation Army and The American Red Cross were a source of light and hope for my family and others.

Years later in 1993, when devastating floods happened in Missouri, my parents were able to make a trip from our home in Tennessee to Missouri, to help for a week with the efforts to rebuild in Washington, Missouri.  It was now my parents opportunity to offer back the love and kindness that had been poured onto them during their hour of need.

Sometimes when we are far removed from a disaster it is easy to watch the pictures on the news and go back to the daily grind of our own lives and ruminate on our problems. But there are people in Florida, Texas, and across the country whose lives have been devastated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Even though we may feel far removed from this disaster there are people in great need and there are ways to help those suffering in the wake of the hurricanes.  Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have caused between $150 billion and $200 billion in damages to Texas and Florida, which is comparable to the costs from Hurricane Katrina, according to initial estimates from Moody’s Analytics. We may wonder how we can make a dent in the process of the Hurricane rebuilding efforts across our country and yet whatever we offer will impact lives.

  • To Donate:

https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation

https://give.salvationarmyusa.org

  • To Volunteer

http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/volunteer

http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer

In 2010, my family was impacted again by flooding when my younger brother experienced the devastating effects of a flood in Nashville, Tennessee.  And yet again, I witnessed agencies, neighbors, family, and friends offer tremendous generosity in response to the natural disaster my brother’s family and many others in Nashville were impacted by.  So in the aftereffects of these catastrophic hurricanes that have flooded homes and lives, we have an opportunity to be generous in some way. Whether we offer our time, a financial contribution, listening ears, or prayers, we can make a difference in the aftermath of these terrible storms.

May we be generous,

Christy

Meditations for your mental, physical, and spiritual health

 

The Alternative to Playing the Blame Game

When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot.  When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.  Dalai Lama

In today’s meditation, I have included a short video by Dr. Brene Brown.  I encourage you to watch this 3 minute video, which invites us to reconsider our propensity to blame others.  Clearly, there are cases in which a person is blameworthy and guilty of a crime, and in these situations acknowledging blame and responsibility does not constitute playing the blame game.  But there are many other times in life, when we find ourselves on the blame game bandwagon.  One example of playing the blame game is a college student who fails an exam, and then becomes angry toward the teacher and posts bad reviews online about their professor.  Another example, might be a boss who disciplines an employee for being late to work, and then the boss is labeled a bad boss, and can never do anything right again, in the eyes of the employee.  The student and the employee in these situations are playing the blame game with their professor and boss.

  • Can you think of examples in your personal life when you have blamed someone or when someone has blamed you?
  • How does it feel to be blamed?
  • Are you a blame-gamer?
  • Do you look for someone else to blame when things have gone wrong?
  • Do you tend to demonize the person you have identified as the culprit?
  • Do you talk badly about the person you are blaming to their face or behind their back?
  • Do you yell at the person you are blaming or alternatively use the silent treatment and/or angry glances towards them?
  • Do you fail to look at your role in the situation and take some personal responsibility?
  • When something bad happens can you talk to the person who has upset you in a non-blaming way?
  • If you tend to be a blame-gamer, what should you do differently to find peace and joy?

In the video I have attached to today’s meditation, Brene Brown invites us to consider why we blame others.  When something bad happens our tendency is to find someone else to blame because this gives us a false sense of control.  Brown’s research has discovered that when we blame others it is our way of letting out our own “discomfort and pain.”  Brown informs us that blaming is very debilitating for relationships.  She reminds us that the alternative to blaming is accountability. Accountability means that instead of staying angry with someone for something that happened, we can talk to them about our feelings and how we experienced whatever may have happened in the workplace, at home, or with a friend from a non-blaming position.

Another layer to the problem of blame is that when we blame others we are only seeing something from our own angle, instead of having the emotional maturity to look at a situation from the perspective of both parties.  When we blame others, we demonize and vilify them, and this is something I am concerned that is happening more often in our culture. I went on a walk with a friend this week and we discussed the greater level of reactivity we have noticed in the world.  As my friend and I talked, we agreed we attribute this problem, to the shouting, blaming, and defaming that have become so common in our political landscape.  What happens at the top seems to filter down and affect our nation, communities, workplaces, families, and relationships.  Have you noticed how the tendency to blame others has become more pervasive in our world?

The Dalai Lama reminds us when we have a victim mentality that convinces us everything is always someone else’s fault, we will suffer a lot, but when we start choosing personal accountability, we will find peace and joy.  It is so liberating to move from the blame-game to personal responsibility.  Can we make this move away from blaming and towards the more vulnerable place of accountability, that allows us to empathetically see a situation from not just our outlook, but from someone else’s perspective?

May we find peace and joy instead of the blame game,

Christy

Meditations for your mental, physical, and spiritual health

 

 

Getting Your Happy Dance On!

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.  Henry Ward Beecher

My niece is in 1st grade and we love to dance to Pharrell Williams’ song, Happy.  I can be in a grumpy mood, but as soon as I start to sing and dance to this song, something in me will shift and all of a sudden I have swallowed a happy pill that has heightened the oxytocin levels in my brain. In the song, Pharrell sings, “Clap along if you know what happiness is to you.”  Do you know what happiness is to you?  It is important to find work that makes us happy, people who bring us joy, and hobbies that bring life to our spirits.

When John Lennon was a child, his mom told him that happiness was the key to life. When he was 5 and went to school, he and his classmates were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up and John Lennon wrote down “happy.” His teacher, who was likely looking for a certain response, like doctor or fireman, told John Lennon that he did not understand the assignment and he replied to her that she didn’t understand life. When we face challenges, sometimes happiness seems elusive, but I do believe happiness should be the ultimate goal.  So we must seek happiness, even in the midst of the challenges of life that are ever before us.  Each day is filled with sorrow, but there is also joy to be found if we will recognize the gift of ordinary moments in our daily lives.

Take a moment to answer the following questions:

  • Who makes you happy?
  • What hobbies are life-giving to you?
  • What has been a moment of happiness in your day today?
  • What is happiness to you?

In response to today’s meditation, I invite you to consider embracing your silly side by finding your favorite dancing song and playing it loudly, while you dance with some gusto.  Life is to be lived.  If you are experiencing a difficult season in life, dancing will not make your problems disappear, but for just a moment, maybe you will create some feel good chemicals in your brain and find some life and joy.  Gerard Way said, “Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect.  It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”  So go do a YouTube search for your favorite song and for just a moment, look beyond the imperfections of life and sing and dance with all your might.

Let’s get our happy dance on,

Christy

Meditations for your mental, physical, and spiritual health