The Shame Game – Emotional Freedom

By Melissa Owens


Recently I was talking with a close friend who was experiencing shame. I has asked her how she felt about something that had recently happened to her. She all but refused to tell me. She couldn’t name the feelings she might experience if this thing she wanted didn’t come about. She became agitated. I drew in a quick breath as I realized that to her, naming her feelings, would put her at a place of such vulnerability that she wasn’t willing to name it, own it or admit it, even to herself. It’s way too easy to just keep the negative factual talk going, but as soon as someone stops the chatter and asks,” What do you want and how would you feel if you got it or didn’t get it?”, then it’s literal crickets. There is was… SHAME. I got to thinking about what makes a person shy away from the “This is what I want!” statements. It’s the fear of what will happen if I say what I want and someone denies me it, or , tells me I don’t deserve it, or disapproves of my desire to have it….whatever it is. Maybe these are things we have heard before? Painful statements of SHAME. Shame is an eraser of the soul. It says, “You should not exist.” It strikes us to the core way into adulthood when we stay angry and bitter and lash out at people instead of honoring our sense of self and desire and giving ourselves permission to admit what it might feel like to not get that job we so wanted, or earn that sales goal bonus like we thought we would, or that we are failing at controlling our temper and being a patient, loving parent. Humility can be freeing. It carries with it, grace and mercy. Humble people are beautiful people in my opinion and they are refreshing to be around. When you say, “If I don’t get the job that I applied for, I’ll be sad” and we say that out loud for all to hear, then we may be pleasantly surprised that people around us have felt the same way, and hey, it’s okay! Feelings are never wrong. No one call tell you not to feel what you feel, that’s not their place, and besides, feelings can change minute by minute and with new information. Just like the man who was going to that job interview in New York City on the day of 911. I am sure since he missed his plane that day that at first he felt over-the-top angry, upset and downright pissed off at the world until he realized that the plane he was to be on was headed for the twin towers shortly after take off. Give yourself the gift of feelings whatever it is you feel, say it out loud and don’t apologize for it. Feelings direct us to pay attention to something very important. Be free of shame and explore the freedom of allowing yourself to just feel.

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