The Rhythm of Life.

November has arrived in New England and with it some cool, damp days.  Mother nature has showered us with an orange confetti of leaves.  The winds of November have blown soft this year.  Soon this colorful landscape will give way to the monochromatic season of winter.  Like black and white photography, winter has a way of revealing hidden beauty, structure and form. Blessed are we who witness the change of seasons for we take nothing for granted and can easily measure the passage of time.  Water flows in streams over granite boulders and pushes aside snow and ice, bare trees claw the sky and animal tracks make visible their presence in the snow.

Winter strips life down to essentials; natures party clothes are put away.  The warmth will return predictably, when the calendar turns and one season folds seamlessly into another.   For now, the season of rest and reflection is upon us.  What will you do with this time?  Will you hide inside and wait it out, pine away for summer, or sustain your spirit with a few weeks of vacation in a warmer place?  You could use this time as nature intended – a time to reflect, rest and re-energize.

Consider examining your emotional inheritance.  Ask yourself which of your beliefs were handed down to you and then decide if you wish to keep them.  It requires self-inquiry, it is hard, it is worth it.

Louise Hay, the best selling author of, “You Can Heal Your Life” says we are all victims of victims.  We unwittingly enter into a chain of pain passed down through generations and repeat those unconscious patterns until someone is aware enough, strong enough, brave enough to shatter them for good.

Become aware of your “Chain of Pain.”  What did you inherit?  How will you change it? Is it your pain or the pain of your ancestors you feel?

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Serpentine.

In times of fear, have you ever found yourself losing interest in your goals and chasing new ones?  Some people think they have ADD or shiny ball syndrome, always chasing the next new thing, never sticking with one course of action but, instead, chasing every new dream that comes along?  Do you not stick up for yourself, but divert your anger into something trivial or more socially acceptable instead?   These are but a few of the ways you can avoid the hard stuff, the stuff you may believe, you just can’t handle.

Have you ever found that you cannot settle into one vision, one goal or one thing? Instead you keep losing interest, repeating patterns and running all over the place in a seemingly chaotic fashion?

Perhaps author, speaker and research professor Brené Brown (Rising StrongDaring Greatly, The Gifts of Imperfection etc.) can shed some light on your behavior.  Brown introduces us to the idea of “serpentining” as a protection strategy we use to avoid vulnerability.  Borrowing from the 70’s movie, “The Inlaws”, Brown describes a scene in which one of the characters tries to dodge flying bullets by moving in a serpentine fashion – zigging and zagging rather than moving in a straight line in order to avoid being an easy target.

As a protective strategy “serpentining” can be exhausting because, in the end, more energy is expended “serpentining” than facing the fear head on.   It may be helpful to examine your own places of resistance and invulnerability and notice where you find yourself doing the serpentine shuffle.  If you are truly dodging bullets, “serpentining” may have its place, but when facing up to challenges in our life, it is a protective strategy that requires closer examination

For a visual example and a bit of levity, you can view the ‘serpentining” clip from The InLaws here:

The Exponential Potential of Shame.

Shame

Shame, is a topic almost no one wants to speak about – they are simply too ashamed. First, we are ashamed of something.  Then we feel shame for being ashamed.  It is the exponential factor of this most wretched of emotions.  It is an isolating and miserable experience. 

The distinction between shame and guilt is this:  We feel guilty for things we have done; We feel shame for what we are.  Shame is pervasive and all encompassing.  It demoralizes and humiliates us to a barely breathing raw pulp. Shame is merciless as it tears at the very fabric of our being.  Shame is a place we dwell and pray that no one ever notices us again.  Shame results in a desire to be and stay invisible, unnoticed and unworthy of being noticed.

Have you ever fallen down?  Has it caused you so much shame that every decision you make subsequent to the fall is shame-based and thus contaminated?  Have you felt the G forces that suck you into a vortex of debilitating, life-ruining, downward-spiraling shame?  Each layer of the spiral seems to etch deeply into your soul creating what feels like permanent threads of hopelessness.  Shame sucks.

We all experience shame, but most of the time we are too ashamed to admit that we are ashamed.   Worse yet, the shame of being ashamed is a double whammy.  Thus, we encounter the exponential potential of shame that makes it toxic to human beings.

Many people feel no shame; others feel shame for those people.  It is an odd thing that when we feel ashamed we often turn to blaming someone or something else.  It relieves us of the burden of shame by projecting it onto others. They are two sides of the same coin – shame and blame.

If we are blaming, we are trying to shift our shame.  I call it “shame shifting.” We relieve ourselves of a highly negative emotion by denying and disassociating it from ourselves and by placing it on someone else.  When we blame others, our finger of blame points outward; four fingers of shame point back at us.

Highly sensitive people are the most vulnerable to this shift.  Someone does them wrong and then energetically shifts the shame on to them through blame.  It is easy to do, HSPs are empaths and, by definition, are emotional sponges.  They often carry the burden of others people’s shame and guilt along with their own.  They are emotional pack mules. 

I have gotten lost and I am ashamed of it.  I tried to pivot my career and became lost in a whirlwind of fears that arise when you step out on your own.  A tempest of survival fears – the very basic, hard-wired fears of the human organism.  I stood on the diving board too long, made too many excuses, and chased too many shiny balls because I was afraid.   I knew what I wanted, but wondered if I might be wrong. if I might not be good enough.  Such is the power of shame; it cripples self-trust and induces self-doubt, which in turn reinforces shame.   In short, things did not go as planned, but went, as I feared – funny how that works.  At least I have learned a lot.

Shame researchers Jane Middleton-Moz and Brene Brown have both delved into the subject of shame deeply.  If you would like to read more about shame, please check out there great work on the subject. 

What is your experience with shame?  Where does it cause you the most harm?  There is an antidote. 

To discuss shame without shame, simply reply here.