There’s a scene in game of thrones where Cersei is stripped naked and forced to walk the streets, whilst Septa Unella rings a bell and intones the word shame, repeatedly. And I felt it. Not the feeling of physical nakedness, but other ways that that I can be stripped bare. That word, shame, with every step that Cersei took and every intonation from Septa Unella, reverberated in my cells.
And, there have been a couple of bouts of shame that I have felt during the last week or so…
- the morning after the night I had one more glass of wine than I needed and I woke up feeling fuzzy and incompetent
- the afternoon that I left work feeling ashamed because I didn’t understand how something worked, and I was telling myself that I should. And I carried it with me, all through the night and into the next day
- the morning when I reacted from a place of shame because I felt I ought to know the thing and I didn’t. And I felt like I had failed.
So what do I do about shame when I’m feeling it?
Remind yourself that the people who got you here are incredibly competent and they did not make a mistake.
– The Muse
These are the things I’ve tried, historically, that I don’t anymore because they really don’t help
- Let it stop me. Get so overwhelmed by it that it feels like I’m drowning and unable to find a way out. Get so stuck that it takes days to surface
- Drink more wine. This just makes the shame greater – specially the next day when there’s a hangover to deal with as well
- Avoid feeling it. Stuff it down. Refuse to acknowlege it exists. Do that until I don’t want to feel anything anymore
- Spend a lot of time in my pyjamas. Feel shame about that too
And what is useful for helping me when I am feeling shame?
- Allowing myself to really feel it. Without wallowing in it. Shining a light on all of the edges and getting curious about what is causing it
- Asking myself whether or not what I’m feeling is actually real, or simply an old story that I’ve got on repeat
- do The Work
- Sit down. Get quiet. Connect with the earth. Then slowly work my way up and down through the energy points in my body until I get back to the place where wisdom leads the way, instead of shame, or fear
- Talk about it with someone I trust. Be vulnerable. Stay open and listen, really listen, to what is offered
- Make a list of ways I can be kind to myself. Pick one and do it
- Get up. Try again. Repeat all the things that have worked for me in the past. Every time this happens, it lasts a little less time and I learn a little more
I find it interesting, too, that this feeling is coming up as I read through Brené Brown’s most recent book Rising Strong. It’s somehow like I’ve given myself permission to feel it and be in it, and find ways to work through it a little more.
So next time shame appears (because I would be kidding myself if I thought that it wouldn’t), I can deal with it more lovingly.