Shaming is meant to correct behavior. It is a way for societies to let their young people know what is acceptable in their culture and what is not. Shaming is experienced as a survival level threat because the punishment can be expulsion. When we feel shamed, we feel vulnerable and want to hide so we are not kicked out.
Behavior correction in the context of loving, connection with other people does not lead to feelings of deep unworthiness and shame. Many people in western cultures have developed core beliefs of being unlovable and basically so bad that we are not worthy of being included in the human family. It is not our behavior that is the problem. It has become a belief about who we are at our core.
Yoga meditation philosophy understands we are all basically good at our core. We have habits and qualities that cause suffering for ourselves and others. Our work is with what obscures or covers over our basic goodness.
We are traumatized by the kind of shaming that has happened to many of us. Fear and core beliefs of unworthiness can create an internal climate of criticism and judgment. I have experienced public shaming and shunning through my teen years and know the suffering that continues through adult life. I have also let go of old beliefs. I know myself to be good. I no longer shame myself. I have developed a friendly internal atmosphere of kindness and respect.
This guided inquiry was part of the Healing Shame workshop last weekend. It comes with a trigger warning. It can bring up intense emotion and energy. Allow yourself to stop. Open your eyes, take some deep breaths. Set it aside for now. Reach out for support. Go back into the inquiry. There are many options. We don’t get a gold star for pushing ourselves. Do something that is right for you now.
Imagine all shame is gone. Thoughts and beliefs about your own worthlessness, shame for what you have done or not done, any judgments and criticisms either from your past or in your own thoughts now. They have all dissolved. They are no longer part of your inner experience.
Relax your body and stay in touch with your breath. Visualize your life, the look on your face, the energy in your body, your thoughts.