|image courtesy of shamelessmag.com/
One of my favorite quotes by Julia Cameron is this: “Anger is meant to be acted upon, not acted out.” So simple, and so true. This statement alone has helped me navigate so many difficult situations in my life. When I begin to feel angry about something, I think…wow, there is something I need to act upon here. My boundaries are being crossed, I’m hurt, I need to speak up and establish my boundaries clearly. If I don’t, I will carry that anger, and it will be projected onto people who don’t deserve it.
And so it is with shame. Shame, like every emotion we have, is there to send us a message. It is an emotion that initially that tells us “this isn’t right for me”. At times, it can be good for us- it acts as our conscience. We stole from the corner market, we feel ashamed (this isn’t right for me
) and we don’t do it again. We’ve hurt someone unnecessarily, we bullied someone…we feel shame, act upon it ( apologize, discontinue the behavior) let it go, and move forward. When we act upon it, we are enlightened and changed by the experience. When we don’t, we either turn inward against ourselves, or project our shame onto others.
When we carry negative emotions like shame, fear, anger, regret, jealousy, the weight of it wears us down. It steals our joy, sabotages relationships, even weakens our immune system. When held inside, each of these emotions picks up a partner. Fear’s partner is paralysis. Anger’s partners are suppression and rage. Regret’s partner is worthlessness. Jealousy’s partner is criticism (of self and others). And Shame’s partner is silence. It is miraculous how your life can shift by letting go of that “partner”.
Letting go of Shame’s partner is as simple as breaking the silence.
It is the carrying of Shame that Amy Ferris and I would like to eradicate from this planet, through sharing stories in our anthology The Shame Prom, and in our workshops.