Sitting With Shame:

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Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that called Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five Senses 

~William Blake

 

We all go through periods of intense transition in our lives, deep valleys spanning between our mountains of accomplishment. When we are in these shadowed places it is easy to feel everything is going wrong and more intimately, as if WE are somehow wrong.

Let me briefly set the scene for my life right now. I am turning 30 in a few months.  My husband and I just moved out of the small RV that we have been living in for the past year and a half, into a set of rented rooms in a friend’s house while we work on constructing our dream home. My summer job at a local farm is coming to an end. Hours and income are dwindling, and I am trying to get a new business off the ground. 

Essentially, lots of shadowy transitions are happening and I could feel myself begin to panic as I checked on my bank accounts.  When we decided to move out of the RV and into our friend’s house for the winter, I had offered to take on the responsibility for rent, leaving my husband free to save up money for closing costs and upcoming construction loan payments.

I could feel that sinking, heavy weight in my abdomen and the tightening of my throat, as I started comparing the money in my account to the looming rent, student loans and credit card bills. I wasn’t going to be able to make it work, and knowing this felt like failure.

The truth of the situation is that my husband has a great career as a high school teacher, and as a married unit, we have plenty of money. I have a beautiful, loving relationship with my husband, we are not going to be homeless, there will be plenty of food on the table, and there is no reason for me to panic!

Despite knowing all this on an intellectual level, I found myself constantly sinking into this mentality of lack and not enough, because my personal bank accounts are low and I might have to…( *insert gasp*)… Ask For Help! I don’t have to ask a stranger or a distant relative I barely know. I don’t even have to ask my parents. I just have to ask my husband, who loves me and is always happy to give me what I need, for a little money for rent this month, and I was panicking.

The other funny thing is, this was not even the first time my husband has covered the rent. It’s not like we have completely separate finances, but for some reason all of these emotions were coming up for me full force. Just goes to show that emotions and limiting beliefs can surface at any time and be triggered by almost anything.

Despite my tendencies to get VERY stressed out, one thing I love about myself is that I am a beautiful mix of opposites. I am trained in the sciences and can be super logical and rational, and I fully believe in the value of scientific methodology. At the same time, I am also intuitive, extremely emotional and full of faith in the benevolent, helpful and magical nature of our universe.

When I am in extreme emotional discomfort, I tend to take advantage of all my resources to look deeply at the issue and try to figure out why I am experiencing those uncomfortable emotions. I go about my process of personal development like a scientist! Essentially, I use the scientific method to isolate the root of my emotions; I ask a question, formulate my hypothesis, test my hypothesis, record my observations, analyze my observations and use them to find a new question to ask.

However, instead of basing my personal development purely on quantifiable data, all of my inquiries are based on the faith I have in these concepts:

  • It is my true nature to be happy, and full of trust and love.

  • I am a connected part of a greater energetic whole; a divine spark in a divine universe.

  • I control my thoughts, which then shape my reality.

  • All the resources I need are available to me right now; I just have to be open to receiving them.

 

My personal development experiments are pretty much ongoing, but certain questions can take weeks or months to answer. In this case, my first question was “What is blocking my abundance right now and causing these feelings of panic and anxiety?”  

My first hypothesis was, “FEAR. I must be afraid. This must be my fear of ‘not having enough’ bubbling up for me.” To test this hypothesis I needed to become clear on what I was afraid of when it came to my financial situation.  And let me just say, the lists of fears and limiting beliefs filled up page after page in my journal. After the writing purge, I sat with each fear, saying it out loud, and paying close attention to my body, observing how I physically responded to each verbalized fear.  

The way our bodies physically respond to our thoughts, especially if we say them out loud, is SO COOL and provides really amazing data. Everyone’s bodies can do this, it just takes knowing where to place our focus and what to look for.

When I say something that I believe to be true or that I have identified with, I experience a physical reaction. If I say or think something I believe to be false, I won’t really feel anything.

But just because we “believe” something doesn’t make it TRUE. So how do we tell the difference between the negative or limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves, and the beliefs that align with who we truly are?

The answer to that question gives us a chance to realize how integrally linked our physical bodies are to our thoughts and emotions. When I say something or think something that I believe to be true and it is NOT in alignment with my true nature (someone who is happy and powerful and full of trust and love), I will feel an uncomfortable dissonant sensation of constriction or tightening or weight in my body. My stomach will sink or my throat will tighten, like it does when I am trying not to cry, or I may get stabbing pains in my chest, reminiscent of a panic attack.

Conversely, when I say or think something that I believe to be true that IS in alignment with who I am, I feel light and open and free. My body will noticeably relax or hum with a pleasant, resonant energy. This is the feeling people refer to when they say that something deeply “resonates” with them.

Going through my list of fears gave me a lot of good data, and my fears certainly felt relevant to the situation, but none of them felt like the root of the problem. None of my fears fully explained the reason why I was blocking abundance or why I was panicking over my bank accounts.

More importantly I wasn’t sure how to continue in a scientific manner. I didn’t know what question to ask next.

Feeling totally stumped and a little frustrated, I reached into my faith. I started taking a few minutes every day to open up and ask the universe for some clarity and guidance. I would get to work a few minutes early and sit in the car with my eyes closed and just start talking to the universe, stating my intentions in my mind; “Universe, I am open to guidance and clarity. Please help me resolve these feeling of panic around my finances. Help me open to receiving abundance in my life!”

There is so much truth in the statement, “Ask and you shall receive,” and as silly as it sounds, talking to the universe works for me every time!

Days after I started setting my intentions to be more open to guidance, my sister invited me to a workshop she was running all about the ways we block abundance and how we can allow more abundance into our lives. One of her talking points was titled “Avoiding Vulnerability”, and as soon as she said those words, a thought came to my mind and demanded my attention:

“If I ask for help, then any accomplishment I make thereafter is null and void. I didn’t do it and I can’t feel proud of the accomplishment if I accept help along the way.”

This thought felt like the metaphorical tap on the shoulder and I knew I had to immediately write it down. When I voiced this in the workshop, my sister said something along the lines of “Does the first place marathon runner not get a medal at the end of the race because she didn’t make her own shoes, or grow the food that she ate that morning? We are all inseparably interdependent and asking for help NEVER diminishes our accomplishments. In fact, you should be congratulated for taking the initiative and making the best use of your resources to accomplish your goals!”

 This was so wonderfully helpful to me! Not because it gave me the “end all, be all” answer to my initial question, but because it allowed me to see the next important question.

 “Why am I afraid to ask for help and tap into my resources when it comes to money?”

The answer didn’t come immediately.  There was no light bulb “AHA” moment. So I just continued my ritual of asking the universe for help and guidance each morning and continued to set my intentions to be more open to receiving help.

This time, the answer came through a podcast I was listening to at work. The idea hit me hard and true; I was ashamed.

Shame is an emotion that I normally try to ignore or distract myself from as soon as possible, but the subject of this particular podcast was all about sitting with your emotions and allowing yourself to feel them fully in your body. At this point, the financial panic wasn’t going away and I was uncomfortable enough with it to try anything that might help.

So I sat with my shame, on my friend’s front stoop after I got home from work that day. I sat with my shame and allowed the physical feeling of shame to fill my body. It was so intense! Slimy and heavy, the shame filled my gut and closed my throat and filled my eyes with tears. But it didn’t kill me! I may have felt overwhelming emotional pain, but it did no harm to my physical body to sit there and witness what shame really feels like.

The longer I sat there, the more thoughts came into my mind about why I felt so much shame around money, where that shame came from in the first place, why it was not based in truth and why it no longer resonated with who I truly am right now. Before I knew it more journal pages were covered in my hasty scrawl, records to be looked over and analyzed later, when I wasn’t feeling so raw.

Brene Brown defines shame as, “…the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”

So why was I so full of shame around money?

I was full of shame because I had made an agreement with myself as a little girl that stated “I will never rely on anyone else, especially my spouse, for money. I will always be financially independent so that no one will ever be able to trap me in an abusive situation.” This pact was the armor that protected me from re-living my mother’s experience, and prevented me from making my mother’s mistakes. 

From an outside, objective standpoint, asking my husband to transfer a little money to me to help with rent this month is not a huge deal. However, from an interior, subconscious, emotional viewpoint, I was essentially breaking a solemn promise that I made to myself. Breaking this longstanding pact required that I take off my armor and be vulnerable with myself and with my husband in a whole new way. I would have to trust that this financial link between me and my husband would not lead to feeling trapped in an abusive situation in the future.

I gave myself the time to sit… and feel… and integrate the fullness of these realizations. As the knowledge of my past agreements came to the forefront of my mind, I was able to experience them fully and by observing my body’s reactions, I was able to discern that this agreement was no longer in alignment with my true nature.

Right now, I am a woman who trusts the universe and who trusts and loves her husband. I am a woman who has learned that her value is inherent and not based on the numbers in her bank account. I am a woman who is no longer served by this old agreement, and though it may have served me in past relationships, the time has come to let it go.

This experience was a huge opportunity for self acceptance and compassion. I was able to feel my shame and say to myself, “Even though I feel this shame, I truly and deeply love and accept myself.”

 I was able to think of my mother, who taught me the importance of financial independence because of her love for me and her fear for my future. Despite the pain and blockages brought on by those lessons, I have full compassion and gratitude for her.

I was able to have compassion for the fact that it was her personal experiences that instilled that fear and shame in her. I was able to forgive her for passing that shame onto me and I was able to forgive myself for accepting that shame into my experience.

This was it; within minutes of sitting down on the front stoop and holding that space for my shame, the compassion and forgiveness I felt spread back in time, encompassing my mother and grandmother and great-grandmothers, healing and soothing generations of pain and dis-empowerment.

The end result of sitting with my shame was a feeling of elation, compassion and loving oneness. It was totally worth the weeks of asking and experimenting and the temporary pain of allowing my body to fully feel. 

This all goes to show that the objective facts about our reality often have less sway on the way that we perceive the world than do the deep seeded beliefs and agreements that we hold within ourselves.  These pacts are linked to the information we picked up and stored subconsciously as children and the cycles of fear, shame and negativity that get passed down through the generations.

Breaking these cycles is possible! This incredibly important work is something that not only enriches the relationship we have with ourselves, but also the relationships we foster throughout our lives.

 This is why it is so important to be self-aware enough to end the shame and fear cycles, and release the agreements that no longer serve us. We need to allow ourselves to sit with the shame or fear or guilt or loneliness or heartache in order to prevent the cycle from continuing to the next stage of our lives and into the next generation.  

When we finally break free, we start to walk out of the shadows of transition and up the mountainside to our next great accomplishment.

 


 Hello Friends!

I know this was a lengthy one, but if you have a few minutes to comment, I would love to hear about what this blog brought up for you and any questions you might have!

Sending love as always,

Ana