Shame is probably the most pervasive and least understood of all human experiences.
If you accept the premise that we are innately predisposed, even hardwired, for connection (connection with other people, connection with ourselves, connection with the divine), then any difficulty with such connection is going to produce pain in our being. Disruption in the bridge of connection is experienced in the body as a sense of wanting to curl in and lower the head. It’s often accompanied by a lossof energy. This is a very vulnerable state where the delicate nature of our essence seems at risk. This is the shame experience – this reflexive, protective covering and tenderness plus all the accompanying thoughts.
Because of the extreme vulnerability and the magnitude of what is at risk, we usually add another layer of protection. We may go to VERY great lengths to hide this reflexive protection (as well as the jewel hidden within). We may cover it over with perfectionism. With the arrogance of needing to be right. With the cover of anger. Or by simply wanting to disappear and have no one see us.
Often we can only find the shame by first becoming aware of these strategies and then looking underneath to see the protective pulling in. And then the jewel sheltered within, the jewel of our essence.
We name it. There is a Chinese proverb that says, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their rightful names.” When we name this protective pulling and all that goes with it as “shame,” by extension, we are also saying this is not the Truth, not the truth of who we are.
We are also pointing toward the medicine. Since shame occurs when connection is damaged or broken, the medicine is to reconnect. The ultimate reconnecting is with the Divine.
Shame is a two edged sword. In one sense we are hurt so deeply and intimately; and on the other hand, shame can become the perfect door of vulnerability to a most profound connection to The One.