If we're not free to fail, to get hurt, to get wounded...we can't really live. We can't live fully. We can't love fully.
We know the pain of creating rejection because we fear it.
"Shame is the most pervasive (spreading widely) type of contemporary suffering; feeling fundamentally not OK. So, how do we bring radical self-acceptance into our lives? How do we deal with self-hatred, or embarrassment, or a deep-rooted feeling of being insufficient? It's scary to be exposed to what you feel most vulnerable about, isn't it?
Not only have we grown up with, and been programmed by societies do's and dont's, shoulds and should not's, acceptable and not acceptable's; but, we have personally created some along the way. How then, do we peel back the many layers of who we think we should be, in order to get to who we really are? How do we learn to accept ALL of who we are (flaws, mistakes and all) without feeling defeated by the trap of comparisons; and/or buying into the guilt we think we should carry for whatever our issue is?
Take a look at this video "Radical Self-Acceptance" by Tara Brach for a Buddhist way of dealing with the issue of overcoming shame. In my humble opinion, it's a beautiful look into the shadow side (darker side) of our lives, and it gives great insight for becoming aware of your issue, then finding a way to accept it. The further I got into the video, I heard more jewels. ---> http://youtu.be/FBheXP9M5iI
However, if you'd like, you can read this blog further for a quick overview, and to get excerpts of the information shared in the video. See below:
First, let's identify what some of our escape routes are from shame:
Flight: To avoid shame by using food, drugs, sex, work, alcohol and even depression (guilting you into a more hopeless state, and numbing you from dealing with it); whatever can numb, or dull, or distance us from shame. And, we also use denial. We pretend to be OK.
Push Away: We try to push away shameful feelings. When there is an overwhelming feeling of 'not belonging', it's intolerable. People act out of that. For most of us, the most frequent form of fighting is the ongoing violence of judging and blaming others and ourselves. The more insecure we are... the more insecure our culture is... the more put-downs we give out, and we hear. ~ We all have something that can trigger in us a feeling of not being good enough. This can cause us to lash out, even in a raging fit, if not dealt with. Then, we end up pushing away that person or thing that brings up that feeling, with judging and blaming. Underneath it though, is this feeling of insecurity; not being enough.
Always Trying To Be Better: We're all trying to be better people. Self-improvement is big in our culture. However, it can be a conforming, pleasing mentality that's always running by an inner monitor. And, there's constantly a standard to meet (personal and the world). Underneath it all, there's still a lingering sense that something is wrong. These strategies are trying to make up for a feeling of not being OK. This kind of striving can reinforce a distrust in our basic nature, and make us lose track of realness. Then, we become afraid to take risks, because we're afraid to make mistakes. And, by making mistakes, we might fear losing love, or status, or the 'self' we've created ourselves to be.
Sidenote: I believe this is different from choosing to access your full potential; which would require letting go of things that don't work for you in your life, and picking up the habits, thoughts and tools that do. To see what's at the root of you 'trying to be better', a good question to ask could be, "Where is my desire to be better coming from?"
But, what in life is valuable without risks? We can't even learn to walk without falling down. And, what about the risk of being in a relationship? There's definitely the possibility of being hurt. If we're not free to fail, to get hurt, to get wounded...we can't really live. We can't live fully. We can't love fully.
Each one of these strategies (Flight, Push Away, Always Trying To Be Better), actually creates more of a feeling of deficiency. It's been described as secondary shame. There's yet another layer of shame added, because we try to cover and get away from the initial shame. Whatever we do, to cover up that feeling of deficiency, just deepens the groove; locks it in place. It makes us less capable of intimacy with our world personally. If we don't like our secret self, then how can we trust that another person would love or like it either? Our mistrust of our own inner being, actually acts to drive away others. We know the pain of creating rejection because we fear it.
We end up trapped in what's being called, a substitute life. It's the not seeing of the suffering (or covering of the suffering) that keeps us bound.
Let's consider, for a moment, what's difficult to forgive in your life; someway that you may have behaved that you feel is not acceptable. As you consider it, what makes it so bad? What makes it so unforgivable? For many of us, whats unforgivable, is that we're hurtful, that we'll never be different, that we'll never really be able to belong with others. Now, consider what would happen if you did forgive or accept this imperfection. Take that leap for a moment. What would happen if you could accept yourself just as you are? As you reflect, include what stops you from doing that. What really stops you from accepting?
If I accept what happened to me then ______________.
If I accept that I did that to them then _______________.
If I accept that I have this addiction then ____________.
It's out of this fear, that we keep our strategies going (Flight, Push Away, Always Trying To Be Better). You're a workaholic, or you're overeating, or you keep denying your hurts. We're afraid to really recognize and accept the rejected parts of our lives. We're conditioned to resist; to run and hide, and live out the strategies mentioned above. Our freedom lies in waking up out of this conditioning, and embracing exactly what's here, what's been excluded, what we're afraid of; and embracing that fully in our bodies with 'kind awareness'.
To move into a more empowered state, it's been described as having 2 wings. Getting the first wing involves the seeing of what's true; to get an understanding of what's really there. ~ The other wing, is to hold with 'love' what is seen. We need both. For most people, we want to feel understanding, and to feel love/accepted. We need both. These qualities, that we might want in an ideal parent, are the very qualities of awareness that we need to develop, in order to face and embrace shame; to transform and awaken. It's like spiritual re-parenting. By learning to develop these qualities, it helps us to heal our wounded parts.
This can awaken us out of the trance of unworthiness, and help us accept and embrace who we really are. We're learning to reconnect where there's been severed belonging. To re-include these parts of ourselves into our life. ~
By acknowledging, embracing and accepting this shadow aspect of ourselves (the darker side), it opens a real door to healing. It allows us to 'feel OK' in our skin. When we can accept ourselves, it makes it easier to accept others just as they are. Then, someone else can extend that same love and acceptance to us right where we are, as we are.
Start the journey to your healing right now by being honest with yourself. And, if needed, remember the countless others caught up in a negative self-image, just like you, who wish to be given the same opportunity to be loved right where they are... flaws, mistakes, and all.