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Shame is a combination of fear and grief, which are a result of trauma.
It is the fear of being bad, being rejected for that badness, and the grief of not having been loved in a healthy way.
Shame is relational, in that it develops through the trauma we experience in our relationships.
Our relationship to ourselves, and others, is essentially learned from the trauma we experience, the environments we grew up in, through being socialized in school, and all the other ways we are conditioned through living in a particular society.
Western society pathologizes wounds that arise from a lack of love.
This does a number of things, among which is condition our collective association to symptoms of trauma to be seen as pathological, an illness, and bad. We shame addicts and people with personality disorders, or who struggle with depression. Narcissists. And on and on.
If these issues are seen as bad, we do not want to associate with them or think that they are a thing living inside of us, so we live in fear—fear of being bad.
I’ve been serving and helping people with trauma and grief for 25 years in many kinds of scenarios. This fear of being bad, being rejected for it, and the grief of not having been loved in a healthy way has been alive in every human I’ve helped.
Shame prevents us from feeling safe to be who we are; to feel safe in our bodies; and to truly experience love, interconnectedness, and genuine care for self and others in the world.
It also prevents us from being able to sit with our internal world, to tolerate the discomfort of an underworld journey to meet and dance with our shadows. Because shame is one of them, even though it’s right there in front of our eyes.
Shame keeps us separate.
From each other.
We live in a trauma culture, one that is centered on patriarchal, white supremacist, and capitalistic values.
Based on this alone, every single one of us has emotional pain, psychological confusion, and spiritual disconnection on some level, because this is actually a healthy response to an incredibly unhealthy culture.
But, we aren’t really trained to see it that way.
We are trained to see that there is something wrong with ourselves or other people, not the culture we are living in.
This is changing now, but it’s important to be mindful of this because we cannot lift ourselves out of this shame-based, emotionally violent way of living using the same tactics that got us here in the first place.
We have learned to do this to ourselves. And, each other.
Trauma has been weaponized.
Our unprocessed trauma, our reckoning with our deep fears of not being loved, and our grief of never experiencing healthy love causes us to build whole identities, organizations, programs, and ideals based on our trauma that we can project onto others.
We cast out those who don’t agree and keep those close who we can trauma bond with. Meanwhile, none of us feels truly safe in this world.
Shame polarizes us. It keeps us feeling separate. It is painful.
Addressing our own shame, and avoiding pointing out the shame of others, is crucial. Because without addressing our own shame, we simply cannot see clearly.
From the small to the large scale, we are all fractals of this world, and I dreamt last night what it might be like—what kind of human fractals we could create from the centers of our hearts, spiraling out into this world—if we all turned toward our shame for healing, rather than looking for what or whom to blame (including ourselves).
We are in pain. That pain needs love—not emotional violence—to heal. And, it’s shocking how much we’ve normalized emotional violence in ourselves and in the world that we can’t even see it for what it is.
Shame needs to be turned to—that grief of not having been loved released and the fears faced.
We can metabolize the trauma of the past, lay the lessons on the altar of vision, and use that resilience to uplift each other so we can collaborate and make these new fractals from the energy source of love in our hearts.
Please, let’s be more sensitive to the trauma so alive in our collective body right now.
There are humans on the other side of all our screens.
Right action balanced with healing trauma, grieving what is in the heart of our shame.