A popular way of understanding shame is by separating the difference between DOING wrong and BEING wrong.
So when a person does something outside the bounds of what they perceive as "good," depending on the severity of the behavior or the conditioning from their past, they begin to believe that they are fundamentally bad.
Said another way, guilt sounds like "I did something wrong." and shame sounds like "I am wrong."
The tricky thing about shame is that it can be so tied to the way we were raised, the conditioning of our environment, and the opinions of other people. AND it gets lodged in our bodies, making it extremely difficult to move past.
Shame is the most suffocating energy when it comes to personal growth. Shame, especially when still stored in our unconscious, makes it nearly impossible to move past the behaviors that keep us stuck.
As I have processed my shame and made it conscious, I have found another avenue that shame interferes with my life: the expression of love.
Over the last year and a half, my question has been, "What do I do to limit my ability to give and receive love?"
As I pondered that question, it became clear that shame is lodged in the energetic pipes, blocking my ability to give and receive love.
And as I have explored this with my clients, I can confidently say that shame almost ALWAYS serves as the barrier between ourselves and love.
Importantly, giving and receiving love starts with the individual first. And the shame was completely suffocating the flow of love toward myself.
Reconciling this belief between doing bad and being bad has been complicated. It has also ebbed and flowed and will continue to do so.
The tricky thing about shame is that it is so ingrained in our conditioning that, at times, we can't even see how it manifests in our lives.
So, in the name of making it more conscious, I offer you a couple of questions to better contact the ways shame keeps you from being the highest and best version of yourself.
What is stopping you from giving and receiving love fully?
When/How do you block people's attempts to love you?
When/How do you withhold love even when you don't want to?
What feels scary about being loved and loving fully?
When do you most feel love?
When do you least feel love?
When is it easy to let the energy of love flow through you?
When is it most challenging to let the energy of love flow through you?
If you spend time with these questions, you will see how this shows up in your life. These questions are a backdoor entrance into your unconscious and the unhelpful patterns keeping shame locked in place.
This is a complex topic for most of us and often requires continued work. But if you are ready to unblock the energy and feel more abundant love, acceptance, and peace, this is an excellent place to start.