The power shame and vulnerability has over our lives is colossal. They are emotions that are debilitating if they are allowed to fester and remain unchecked. Shame and vulnerability may also be used as a compass to guide you toward your inner peace.
Unfortunately I have allowed these beasts to wreak havoc for most of my life. The baggage of shame I have carried around with me is remnant from childhood. I never felt good enough or worthy. I felt I always had to work that much harder in order to prove my worthiness so others could not question it. There have been times when people (probably due to their own baggage) have poked holes in my achievements. This subsequently sparked a spiral of self-doubt and a need to prove I am worthy of success and appreciation. It has been my own personal hell. Crazy, hey! It feels like you have to continuously look over your shoulder. You can’t fully bask and trust in your success because some bastard is standing in the wings waiting to tear you down.
Other’s Criticisms of Your Success Are Not About You!
I used to think it was all apart of the “Tall Poppy” social phenomena prevalent in most societies. As a relatively high achiever in life, I set goals and worked to achieve my endgame. I learn well, sitting at the front of the class, actively participating in lessons. Being expressive I talk about my goals and aspirations readily. For me it keeps the dreams alive and maintains the fizz of intent. My dreams feel real when I am able to readily express them. However, there are other people who seem resentful of this. Some criticise openly for what I create, casting dispersions on whether the work is my own. Sometimes these people readily gossip with others, further spreading the toxicity. Due to my propensity to spiral downward, I end up listening to their words, drinking in the poisonous energy.
As the poison takes ahold I inevitably become defensive and reactionary. I lash out. No one wins these battles. Both sides inevitably retreat with old wounds being re-opened.
It is their own ghosts they are shadow-boxing. Me reacting emotionally is me fighting my own ghosts. My emotional triggers have nothing to do with them either. The cycle is vicious. What magical power can we manifest to overcome this crap?
Vulnerability – A Superhuman Power
I still often forget to engage my superhuman powers of perception and healing which antidote this negativity. If I did that I would understand the behaviours of these people has nothing to do with me personally.
Here’s the weird thing – expression of one’s vulnerability enables other people to relate to us more readily. When we are able to stand tall and in our truth and express what we are feeling, understanding is nurtured. As I have grown older, I have slowly been learning that humanness seems to break down the wall that historically has been constructed between the perceived judgers and I. When I deconstruct the wall I have placed between myself and those who express judgement, the “tall poppy” syndrome dissolves. No longer is there a “them and I” division. It is like my occasional admission of anxiety and shame of being unworthy is extending like a hand out to those judging.
Instead of reacting emotionally and defensively, I can tune in. Enquiring about their interesting perception and expressing a keen interest to explore it further, moving toward the situation rather than running away from it helps me to stand tall. The other person may not be willing to engage. Irrespective of this, it stops my head spiralling downward in the moment.
We Are All One
We are a great big matrix of healing if we choose to perceive it that way. Healing is facilitated in others just by us being ourselves and standing in our own truth. No magic wands required. Just empathy and compassion, for ourselves and those around us. Never underestimate the power of communication and understanding. We become less isolated, instead being more connected with society around us. Those who resonate with us far outnumber those who judge.
There are always going to be those people who continue to avoid looking inward, who choose to criticise outwardly. That is their journey. Rest assured they judge themselves just as harshly deep down as they do with others. For they are envious of you, my friends.
Mindfulness of emotional reaction continues to be a steep learning curve for me. I am far better than what I used to be. I still slip up and end up a dribbly mess but that is okay. With every mindful step I take (irrespective of whether those moments are interspersed with me forgetting to breathe), I am becoming stronger, standing taller and more proud than I have ever been.
Anne McCormack is author of the book, Lovitude: Trying To Calm The Monkey Mind and the award-winning, Peacock Dreaming: The Wisdom Of Flowers.
Feature photo courtesy of Pixabay
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One Reply to “The Power of Shame and Vulnerability”
This article is wonderful. When we bring our shame into the light it has no power over us anymore. Own it. Learn to love the lessons it teaches us and others. Live whole hearted with out shame or guilt. Lovely words you shared.