Experiencing shame has been the most intense emotion that I have experienced in my life. Shame has motivated me to hide, to withdraw, and essentially, over time, to develop an introverted personality from within the intense feeling of shame. On the other hand, I have also programmed myself with a personality of confidence which I used to overcome the program of introversion in situations where I had to integrate myself with new people and new environments. In other words, I used the program of confidence to compensate for the program of introversion.
Now that I look back on this situation, having gained some distance to how I have programmed myself in this way, I place myself into the memories of my younger days to see how I had made my parents my role models. My father for the feeling of intense shame and my mother for the program of confidence. I lived both of these programs to the extreme in that shame motivated me to often take drastic measures, by taking huge leaps into the unknown and using confidence to produce the courage to do so.
The difference between guilt and shame in my personal life has been that shame seems to have been always there and the intensity of shame was regulated, more or less, by how I experienced the external world in relation to my memories. Guilt on the other hand, has typically been restricted to concrete and isolated situations, mostly where I was caught in a dilemma of what I “should” be doing and what I “wanted” to do. I ended up doing what I wanted to do, which could have also been giving into resistances. Facing the consequences of the situation then caused me to experience guilt because I knew better and I knew what was coming as a result of my action or inaction.
An intense feeling of shame stems from a fragmented sense of self that is permeated and penetrated by experiences that led to labelling self as unworthy, defected, useless - in short, to reject the self. Self-acceptance is replaced with a (ego) picture of oneself in how one wants to be, yet that picture is unobtainable because it is based on a skewed self-perception, divorced from reality. Through intense self-judgement of not being able to live the (ego) picture, the self is hurt and injured. This is the point of separation that causes the fragmented self.
It follows that when one has intense self-judgement that necessarily others in one’s world are judged with equal measure. This causes an internal situation of friction between self and others, which intensifies the cycle of judgement of others and self, and promotes the resulting feeling of shame.
We can think of the (ego) picture as part of the manner in which we “outsource” the self to the external world. But the act of outsourcing the self can also be the way we interpret another’s behaviour in relation to ourselves, because through these interpretations we give up our power and use others to define who we are.
The healing comes through directing one’s will to establish a relationship with self. This can be done when dedicating oneself to work on multiple fronts.
Letting go of the (ego) picture that one carries within oneself, starting with one’s body and the bodily image - for example, by doing self-forgiveness when standing naked in front of the mirror. By making a list of all the aspects one dislikes and likes about one’s body and forgiving each item on the list. As a commitment to change one can concentrate on one’s bodily functions. Becoming aware of one’s relationships with excretion, how one feeds oneself, and how one goes to sleep at night. In the commitment of becoming aware, one can focus on listening to the body through gentleness. I found this is an effective manner to establish self-intimacy.
Another angle to work with is to examine one’s desires and wishful thinking. Desires are powerful indicators where we want to live up to the (ego) picture. For example, what do we want from others? what do we expect from our relationships with others? from our job or career? Letting go of desires gently dismantles the (ego) picture one has constructed over the years.
All of the above supports the forming of a relationship with self, and self-trust is another aspect that can be learned and practiced. Here I suggest to place oneself into situation where one fears failing, and then to use one’s will to move through the situation, through the fear, and even the failure to develop and strengthen self- trust.
This is how I have been working with myself, which is a form of self-support in the framework of the Desteni-I-process pro. To get a taste of this process, join the free online course.