“Let us use and heal our wounds by helping one another. It is time for guilt, shame and blame to be abandoned. We are all God's children. Let us accept our imperfections, apologize for the pain we have caused, heal our relationships and become the family of man."
Bernie Siegel, M.D.

Shame is a cloak with a hood that we use to hide our true selves. Shame is an emotion that tells us we are not good enough, that there is something wrong with us. It encourages us to hide the truth, so it corrodes honesty. Shame tells us that we deserve to be punished. It suggests that when good things happen to us, it is a fluke. Shame precludes joy. Shame and joy are not found in the same place or the same moment. Like darkness and light or dryness and wetness, shame and joy replace each other.

In healing ourselves, we must acknowledge our shame and give it up. We can recognize mistakes we have made and be aware of our relative strengths and weaknesses of character without shame. In fact, only when we give up our shame does the truth come out. Shame promotes hiding. It causes us to hide our weaknesses from others and perhaps also from ourselves. On the other hand, our shame may convince us that our failings are more significant than they are. We feel less worthy, less powerful, less whole.

Children don’t come into this world with knowledge of shame. It is taught to them. If it can be taught, it can be unlearned.

Think about your shame. What do you feel guilty about?
What secrets about yourself do you hold in your heart that would cause you pain if anyone knew?
What have you done that you hope no one ever finds out about?
Are there things that were done to you that you hope nobody ever learns about?
Are there episodes in your life that you would never want to speak about?
What do you think about your body? Are you more modest than most people? Is there anything to be ashamed about in having a body?
If you give up your shame, who do you become?

Breathe in acceptance.
Breathe out your fear.

Say to yourself:
I accept myself for who I am.

I acknowledge what I have done in my life.

I intend to not make mistakes I have made before.

Where I have harmed others, I ask forgiveness. Where practical I will make amends.

I am worthy.

I am capable of kindness and love.

I make a difference.

I will not hide from myself.

I will not hide myself from other people.

I wish to be healed of my shame.

I give it up.

I accept that I am who I am.

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© 2002 Tom Barrett