After today, I am going to break from discussing shame – it is a very large topic and one we will revisit many times. The reason that I feel we must keep chipping away at shame is that shame is “A Master of Disguise”. Shame has the ability to create limits that are actually lies as it covers its own stealthy tracks. More importantly, Shame like fear, anxiety and other affiliated emotions are self-sealing. That is that they engage in behavior that reinforces and seals the belief inside where it grows unchallenged. It seems that even our feelings like power and will run rampant when we do not challenge them. Logic is often used by such feelings to justify keeping them in place. “I would feel good about myself if only ______.”
Shame, fear and anxiety are deceptive to us at times. They are protective in nature, but can grow to be more punishing than the original intention – they take on a life of their own and begin limiting our behavior creating an invisible fence in our minds. Much like those cruel shock collars, shame, fear and anxiety take on the same methodology – when we get too close to an imagined boundary, we get zapped! Some people suffer shame attacks, others anxiety attacks and still others over-reactive fear responses that are grossly out of proportion to the stimulus.
Why do I write about these emotions and limits? Because like all humans, I have had my share of afflictions and I believe that we must use the latest knowledge and tools to hack out way out of the limits that impose smallness and limited lives upon us. Each and everyone of us has a right to be here and to grow in the direction we choose. To do that requires removing a lot of invisible fences.
Much of the time you will not see your invisible fence for what it is, you will need help. That help can come in the form of a friend, a support group, a great coach, a good therapist. The point is you must know it is there in order to challenge and remove it. Sometimes, you will just have to jump the fence take the shock and realize it did not kill you, then do it over and over again – a process of systematic desensitization.