Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ups and downs

I think I've mentioned a time or twenty how much I admire and resonate to the work of Brené Brown, who studies and writes about vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. I'm proud to say at the ripe old age of 52, I am beginning to cultivate shame resilience.

Big boo-yah for me! It's been a long time coming and I can feel the effect it is having on me. The work I've been doing through EagleSpirit's Empath 101 course has been setting the tumblers into place so as I discover new areas I have had difficulty with in my life, I am ready to unlock the pain it causes and set it free.

I've had two instances of what Brown calls a "shame storm" in the last few months, and interestingly enough (but I'm sure not coincidentally) both instances are career-related. The first I wrote about in  "Lessons this week taught me" was a hard lesson because I hadn't felt shame in what seemed a very long time. Most of the time I feel guilt.

When guilt hits, I generally address it by apologizing (because what I've done or said doesn't sit right with me and I feel it must be dealt with and learned from). Then I move on. But as Brown says, shame is all about "I am bad" and that is something I've felt from a very young age.

EagleSpirit gave us a forgiveness prayer and  some profound healing happened when I used it on old shames and hurts. I thought at the time it would be a temporary fix, but because I realized that some of the really old shames and hurts would only be truly let go of if they were forgiven by 'lil Kath. And she was ready.

My most recent shame storm occurred at the end of a fantastic day. An email came in from a client who did not like something I had written for him and he used language that I felt shamed by. I felt the heat wash over me; a painful, burning feeling that is both physical and painful. But instead of being carried away by it, I checked in with myself and found that what I was feeling wasn't mine. Eureka! And then I asked my fellow empaths to help me through it. I told them about what I was feeling and got the empathy I needed and you know what, good ol' Brené is right...

I was able to respond by apologizing for what was mine and only mine, acknowledging that the creative process doesn't always hit the mark, and simply letting go of the rest.

Later that night EagleSpirit offered the gift of Hoʻoponopono, an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness, which I had heard of, but not understood. I understand now that the simple words, "I'm sorry. Forgive me. I love you. Thank you." are as much about forgiving myself as forgiving someone else. It's a powerful act. Because when we let go of hurt and anger, the void can only be filled by love.

Since the feelings have not returned from the things I forgave and let go of, I'm thinking there has been some powerful healing going on in my life. As I learned today in my Spiritual Book Club Meeting, situations and people will continue to come back until I deal with my stuff, so perhaps another shame storm will come along to show me there is more to let go of. But I now 'get' that when I shine a light on shame rather than hide it, I have the tools within me and the support around me to cultivate resilience.