Does Shame Live In Your Marriage?
My husband, Chris, and I recently experienced an extended effort in attempting to make a shame-based decision- it took 11 months to be exact! We needed to find one of our dogs a new home. It was an extremely difficult decision to begin with, and then was prolonged due to feelings of shame.
Oddly, this precious and docile pup did not blend (at all) with our other dog. So, instead of returning him to the rescue shelter right away, we all suffered in various ways for 11 months! Ya gotta love self-induced drama!
Previously, I was the ‘judgy’ woman who looked down her nose at people who ‘got rid of pets’ (blush…). Obviously, I had more to learn about compassion. Thanks for another lesson Universe, and a great big, yucky slice of humble pie… As a result of our (Chris and my) shameful lies of being ‘bad people’ if we ‘got rid of our dog’, we engaged in an emotional WWF wrestling match on and off for 11 months. Now, don’t get me wrong, this time period came with several fruitful lessons. Aside from stripping me of another layer of judgment and replacing it with ever deepening beautiful compassion for myself and others; I also ramped up a serious level of patience – being that our first dog wined for literally 3-5 hours straight every night for 11 months in protest of this unwanted and uninvited creature who had invaded her home! We also received the pure joy of rehabbing an abused, starving and terrified dog, and taught him that the world IS a safe and loving place- this gift is far beyond measure. In the end, we found Lucas the perfect home with beloved friends where we will be able to visit! And with many days of tears, we said good-bye to our sweet Lucas.
All humans experience the icky, dark, gruesome feelings and stories associated with shame (um, except sociopaths). Shame lives in all marriages (and families) to one degree or another.
Like a stealth and ferocious lion looming near by, shame lies in waiting for 1 of 2 unsuspecting opportunities to pounce.
• Shame is prepared at any moment to pounce on your emotional body when you’re vulnerable. To blame you for not being enough- lovable enough, skinny enough, smart enough, sober enough, successful enough, home with the family enough, saving enough, etc.
In the story above- my self-abusive shame was attached to the lies and limiting beliefs around not being smart enough to ‘figure it out’ and not being loving enough to just ‘grin and bare it’, and feeling like ‘a bad person’ for wanting my home to return to that of peace and solitude - I know, it sounds ridiculous when stated aloud!
• Secondly, shame is ready to be unleashed onto an unsuspecting lover or other family member at the drop of a hat. This happens usually as a projection of our own perceived imperfections or perceived short-comings, which is why it is necessary to clean up, remove and learn to rebound quickly when the wash of shame attempts to over take you.
During our time of ‘fostering’ Lucas, there were many times I wanted to yell at Chris and be angry with him when I ran out of patience with the spasmodic doggy duo! After all, we did get Lucas on Chris’s birthday, so obviously it was his fault that our pups loathed each other, right!!?
But in reality, I just felt overwhelmed and exhausted with the situation. And fresh out of ideas to reclaim calm.
When any feeling of powerlessness are present, shame and it’s cohorts are not far behind.
I am fortunate and thankful to have many tools at my disposal for rebounding from shame, guilt, anger and upset- but they did not prevent my human imperfection from expressing my, scratch that, puking my frustration onto Chris 100 percent of the time!
If Chris and I had not succumb to ideas of shame and social pressures, that we knew intellectually, but ignored in this situation -(ie, pleasing others at the expense of our family unity and peace), and accepted our lessons quickly (replacing judgment with compassion), much heartache would have been avoided.
Removing shame is truly an expression in SELF & FAMILY love, compassion and honor.
REMOVING, HEALING & REBOUNDING FROM SHAME IN YOUR MARRIAGE
The thing about shame and the many emotions, like anger, resentment and frustration that accompany it, is that shame can come in and out like a flash (which is the goal of learning to rebound quickly), or completely envelop your body, mind and spirit for extended periods (which is what we all must unlearn in order to have a fulfilling and joyful life and marriage).
Shame is at the heart of all depression and anxiety. Thus, learning to heal, remove and rebound from shameful limiting beliefs is paramount to a healthy emotions.
Shame is fantastic at masquerading as ‘acceptable social’ thinking and behaving. Most people aren’t aware of the role shame plays and the damage it creates for individuals and marriages. When one partner is stuck in a shame cycle, closeness and connection are absent I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I spend much of my time helping clients and couples wade through, heal, rebound from and remove shame from life and love so they can move into a truly thriving and blissful space.
3 ACTIONS TO REDUCE SHAME
Shame is complex and requires time, energy and discipline to remove. Yet, learning to remove and rebounde from shame will change your life fast and effectively and greatly reduce depression, anxiety, frustration, perfectionism and resentment. Below is a simple process to get you started.
1. Name It. First, you must become attuned and practiced at calling a spade a spade. When shame grips you. Call it shame. Say to yourself, ‘I am feeling ashamed.’ This will instantly soften the tendency and temptation to unleash anger, blame, overwhelm, and self-loathing.
2. Share It. Shining a light on shame dissolves the vast majority of the icky gross feeling almost instantaneously. Sharing a shame experience requires great strength and courage, and MUST be done with someone who is emotionally safe (ie, compassionate friend, lover or coach).
3. Breathe It Out. Once you have named it and shared it, it is time to expel the dark cloud from your body. Give yourself 2-10 minutes to sit quietly and breathe. Visualize the dark cloud of shame leaving your heart, mind, emotions, and body as you exhale and see bright white light, love and compassion enter your mind, body, emotions and spirit as you breathe in…
Thank you for joining me!
Cheers to Liberate Living! Shawn