It might seem a little bit out there to share this, but in the last week I had a huge breakthrough. A coach asked me this question a few weeks ago – what do I need to clear to set myself free? And I think I found my answer: shame.
Shame isn’t an emotion I personally identified with despite having a rocky road in my 20s, where if you knew the details, you’d think I probably should know shame. I’m going to share with you the definition that enlightened me:
Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. – Brené Brown.
When I read this, I realized this was something I knew well. It made me wonder – can you let go of an emotion you don’t identify with or realize you have?
In 2015 I was at the tail end of what I’d label as a breakdown. It drove me to travel for a couple of years and spend as much time as I could introspecting, meditating, learning about myself, and it became the spiritual journey that fundamentally changed my life. I met so many like-minded people on a similar self-discovery mission, and I thought I’d had all the deep emotional conversations possible, but I didn’t come across a single person who talked about shame. Which I’m now labelling: the unspeakable emotion.
After a few years in Asia I arrived in Vancouver, Canada a more authentic version of myself, expecting life to be easier now I was in a calm state of mind and more in touch with myself.
The thing with spiritual awakening is you can’t reverse it and there are a few side effects. Firstly it’s hard to go back to the mould of yourself you previously lived in, sometimes you try and fit back into it but it just doesn’t feel right anymore, and for that reason it can be isolating as you change your lifestyle to fit your new self. Secondly when you become grounded in who you are in a world where most people don’t know who they are, it can be confronting and make people uncomfortable, your vibration has changed and it may not match those around you.
Living from your heart is synonymous with vulnerability, one doesn’t exist without the other. The newly formed version of me, that was still finding home in my body, wasn’t sure how to conduct itself back in city life. Am I being too open? Should I put some more barriers back up? Would that make everyone more comfortable?
To my surprise I found rejection in relationships, jobs, and friendships. If I have peace within me, it should be found outside of me too, right? Being rejected when you’re wearing a mask to the world is one thing, you remind yourself – they don’t know the real me. Being rejected when you’re showing the world your heart is another. It made me want to sink into the ground, but I didn’t know how to go back to burying myself under layers of armour. My conclusion: I am fundamentally flawed and un-loveable, I don’t belong here.
Until I picked up ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ by Brené Brown to learn that what I was experiencing was a chronic shame storm. I can’t tell you the relief I felt learning that this was an emotional response, emotions – I can deal with emotions! I have tools in yoga and meditation that have helped me to build a relationship with my emotions, but I realize I have to speak about the unspeakable emotion to give it the recognition it needs and that’s how I let it go.
My message to shame: Thank you for showing up to remind me that I’m being vulnerable in a world where people may not accept me, but I accept me so there’s no need to worry. I’m sure I’ll meet you again because I’m prepared to be vulnerable and step into my authentic self so others can also set themselves free. I’m proud of myself for getting this far. Love Rochelle