July 21, 2013

You Unfriended Me! Unpacking Shame. ~ Shasta Townsend


You Unfriended Me!

It was perfect.

I had just returned from a deep weekend of healing and transformation that had brought forth some of the stories that kept me small and separate. I realized I often feared abandonment and rejection but that was all gone now. The world was beautiful! (I thought) I had let go of all the shame and fear.

And then I saw it… I was on Facebook and noticed that my friend count was down by at least four people. Four people had unfriended me in the last week. What the hell?

Were my new articles too inflammatory? Or was I boring people? Did this mean I was doing something wrong? Saying something wrong? Being wrong? Did other people not like me either? Was I too much? Maybe not enough? What did I do to these four people? Was there something wrong with me?

Shame. Shame Shame.

I have come to realize that shame is almost as universal as love. My friend shared his shame in being dropped from a magazine shoot at the last minute and how the old fear of not being good enough arose. Another friend told me she felt ashamed when her co-workers went for drinks after work and did not ask her. “Was she unlikeable?” she asked. Another friend tells me how painful it was to tell his lover he loved her and she walked away. He feared feeling too much and coming on too strong and of course, of feeling unworthy.

Maybe you have felt shame recently.

So what to do with it? Perhaps smoke a cigarette, or something stronger. Have a drink, or six. Push it down, push it away or project it out. Seek the latest self-help cure and hope someone can just guru it away for you.

For me, after I felt sad, angry, rejected and thought about devouring a chocolate bar, I did these five things instead.

Five Ways to Unpack Shame:

1. Notice It and Let It Be

Often we don’t want to feel bad, so we don’t. We distract from it, mask it or bury it or even worse, we project it out at others.

I just let it be. I did not eat that chocolate bar. I did not call my husband for consolation. I did not go for a run. I just noticed it.

“So four people don’t want to be friends with me. Well that is sort of painful. I feel sort of rejected. I feel bad,” I said. “I can feel that pain in my stomach and a little heavy in my heart. I am just noticing it.”

2. Breathe Into It / Lean Into It

After noticing it, just breathe. Yes, really. Just breathe into that painful place. Lean into the feeling from a witnessing place as though you are an explorer.

I notice that pain is held in my stomach and my throat is tight and I breathe into those places. Somehow it’s like unpacking a tightly bound suitcase. I felt lighter.

3. Look for Something True

When we experience shame we often go to extreme statements.

“Everyone must hate me.”

“No one ever likes me for me.”

“I will never be good enough.”

This is the language of extremes and it is never true. So look for something that is true right now. The truth is at least one person loves you a lot. The truth is at least one person, maybe even your cat, thinks you are the moon. The truth is you are the Divine in form, and so, you are totally worthy, beautiful and wonderful. The truth is that even this pain will pass.

4. Look for Something Good

When we go to extremes and we are in the midst of a shame storm, it can be easy to only see the negative and become extremely negative.

When my friend felt rejected she said, “Fuck them. I don’t want to go for girly drinks anyway. I should tell them what c*nts I think they are actually.”

This is totally normal, but a powerful choice is also available. I am not saying stuff away your feelings of anger, vengeance or pain but maybe don’t act on them. It may not help your career to call your co-workers c*nts.

In the moment I felt rejected, I looked for something to feel good about. I looked at some of the smiling faces of the people I am friends with and felt such love for them. I thought about how I seek to love and be loved and this was good. I felt better.

5. Remember What You Really Want and Who You Really Are

Anytime we have a vivid experience, especially a painful one, it can be a powerful reminder to focus on what we do want.
Having had this experience, I remembered that I don’t want a thousand friends who don’t really want to be friends with me. I want to feel loved, accepted and appreciated even if you disagree with me. I don’t want to play it small to appease others. I celebrate our differences, but love you too.

Remembering what you want may also lead to a new discovery. My friend remembers he wants a lover who passionately expresses love and he tells her so. This leads to the discovery that his lover is carrying shame and fears about being loved. Their relationship moves to a new level of intimacy and healing. He could have been trapped in shame and blame and pushed her away but instead found heaven on earth.

Shame is a great great calling to also remember who we are truly. I am not my friend count. I am not your opinion of me. I am not my story and I am not my image. I am love—plain and simple. I am love whether with 849 or 845 Facebook friends.

I am love, and you are too my friend.


Like elephant journal on Facebook.

Ed: B. Bemel

Reply to Sarah Somewhere cancel

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Allison Aug 1, 2013 11:52pm

What a great article, with one nit-pick — I'd say shame is at LEAST as universal as love.

I've spent a decent amount of time reading Brene' Brown's work over the last couple of years, and I can't recommend it enough. For an idea of her style/research, her TED talks are great. This is the one that brought her to my attention: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerabi

Good for you for realizing what you needs, and yay for me that I get to learn from your experience!

Sarah Somewhere Aug 1, 2013 6:10pm

I love this! I struggle a lot with shame and it's something I'm becoming really aware of right now. It kind of makes sense that the more 'us' we become on the journey to living more authentically, the more facebook friends and 'real-life' acquaintances will slip away, making room for others who we will connect with on a deeper level. It still pangs, but in the long run, it's for the best. Great article.

amphibi1yogini Jul 24, 2013 9:52am

You know, something like this happened to me on my blogsite (which, essentially, is social-network based, rather than platform/host-based)

I figure this: I've become too fabulous for those people … just too darn fabulous …

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Shasta Townsend

Best-selling author, award winning teacher and down-to-earth Canadian girl, Shasta Townsend helps women and men reconnect to their wholeness, release blocks to their happiness and reclaim magic so they can live a wonderful life, no matter what! Shasta is passionate about the how-to of creating good relationship—the relationship to our Self, to each other and to the Earth. She is a feisty champion of “unbroken wholeness”—that is the current of love, goodness and creativity that supports us always, and is adept at integrating various disciplines so we may tap into this current with power and ease. Shasta is your feisty champion as she helps to strip away the old stories and reveal your authentic radiance as you unabashedly create the next big, beautiful chapter of your life.

Shasta shares her passion for living well as a Featured Columnist at Elephant Journal, The Good Men Project, Rebelle Society and Vivid Life. Shasta leads retreats, workshops and talks around the world. She lives in Canada with her husband, cat and creative impulse. Her debut book, Happy, Sexy, Shameless – What Our Mother’s Didn’t Know About the Birds and the Bees is an international best seller and is available through amazon.com and all amazon platforms world-wide. Connect with Shasta on Facebook or on Twitter @shastaherself.