So far in the series, you’ve discovered more about what shame is and how it can impact our lives. In this final blog of the four-week series, I am going to explore how powerful compassion can be in healing shame and share a simple but powerful strategy to help you be more compassionate.
How Can Compassion Heal Shame?
Throughout this blog series, we’ve been on a journey of understanding shame and how it can hold you back from healing your grief, getting relief, and moving towards a life of fulfillment and joy. We’ve talked about the effect of shame on our self-care, on the limiting beliefs that make us feel we are ’not good enough’, and we looked at what shame actually is and how we can move through it, to a place of self-compassion. Once you understand what shame is, you can learn how to care for yourself and begin to treat yourself with the compassion you deserve. Compassion can help you heal your shame. Let’s take a closer look at compassion.
What is compassion?
You may find that treating yourself kindly from a place of love doesn’t come naturally to you and you may wonder why you find it so challenging to be self-compassionate. The trauma we’ve suffered is so commonly the cause of our inability to be compassionate in general, and especially with ourselves.
Well, it’s time to change that.
Every one of us has the wisdom and ability to be self-compassionate. It’s a resource we need to help us accept painful emotions, so that we can heal from our trauma and find inner peace. The greater our pain and suffering, the more we need compassion.
It is a key element in the process of removing your fears and feelings of shame once and for all. Being compassionate means to love, to be kind to and to accept someone or yourself. It is a blessing on your journey to healing and creating a happy, joyous and free life. In my Stop Suffering Now and Make Peace With Your Past group program, we focus on creating and developing compassion for ourselves and integrating tools to support you every step of the way. It’s important to be kind and caring with yourself as you celebrate your own progress and to also be compassionate, kind and caring with others as well.
Self-compassion heals shame. But, what is it? Being self-compassionate means to love, be kind, and to accept yourself. It’s important on your healing journey to begin to be kind and caring with yourself and to celebrate your progress.
Sure, you may find having self-compassion difficult. You may find that you have a hard time just being nice to yourself. And, usually, we find that the reason we feel this way is a direct result of the trauma we’ve suffered.
One foot in front of the other will help you get started practicing self-compassion, and in doing this, you’ll affect a region of the brain that makes you more sympathetic to another person’s mental and emotional state. You will begin feeling compassion for others – and yourself. Really, it’s true! See when we experience or provide kindness, support, encouragement, and compassion, neurons get reconnected in the brain. In the same way, not experiencing these feelings as a child can leave you feeling unlovable – eventually allowing shame to get stuck in our neural pathways.
With new experiences and practicing compassion and self-compassion, we can begin to grow new neurons and connections in the brain. In other words, you can override that shame memory with goodness you experience today. You can change your life!
Being able to relate with another who has experienced childhood trauma is an important tool for healing. Simply relating and feeling for another is a huge step on this journey. Practicing self-compassion means you will get the strength and empathy that will allow you to connect with others and even reach out for help. In my Stop Suffering Now and Make Peace With Your Past 12-week group program, I work with trauma survivors who struggle with moving forward. Together, we are able to move past the trauma and into a phase of healing.
THE PROCESS OF SELF-COMPASSION
Here’s a simple truth: You’ve got to start being nice to yourself. Yes, you have been through something horrific. And, yes, it is going to take some time to get over it and that cannot be done until we are ready to feel real emotions...when we’ve made that peaceful connection between what our bodies feel and what our mind tells us. But, guess what? Everyone has been through something. Maybe not like your experience. But every step in life, every hurt, every pain, and every trauma can leave a mark. The better we are at being able to connect with ourselves, the better we are at being able to connect with others, the better chance we will have at healing.
So, give yourself permission to be kind to yourself. When you notice yourself being unkind or critical of yourself, stop and take notice. Then, repeat what you said, turning it from a negative to a positive, reframing what you tell yourself. For example, if you are frustrated with yourself for not getting the help you need, you can tell yourself, “I’m in the process of getting myself the help I need to move forward”.
The trauma of your past is never going to go away. And, trying to simply forget about it is not going to help you with it at all. However, you can heal and move forward. Practice self-compassion in regard to your trauma.
Being kind to yourself and speaking kind words is very healing – even if you are saying them to yourself. In my Stop Suffering Now Program and Make Peace With Your Past we focus on self-care and begin your journey towards your fulfilling and joyful life.
The benefits of compassion
When you bring compassion to all of life, you’ll be enlightened by a shift in your thinking and wellbeing. You’ll step into a powerful emotion, as the energy of the feeling of compassion creates a beautiful two-way interaction. In other words, you begin to feel togetherness, rather than feelings of separation or isolation.
Being compassionate with yourself will bring harmony to the relationships you have with yourself and with others. What’s beautiful about compassion is that you can choose to start feeling it right away. But how?
How can we call upon compassion and use it to heal shame?
Here is a simple three-step exercise I often use with my clients to help them move through shame.
Think of a shaming experience. It could be from childhood or adulthood. Focus on that feeling. Now think about what you wish someone had said to you immediately after the event occurred. Who was that person? What was it you wanted and needed to hear? Write it down.
Now choose a person that you admire. It can be a friend, family member or even someone you’ve never even met. Picture them in your mind, telling you the words you needed to hear. So, for example, in step 1 you chose your mother and she wasn’t supportive or didn’t believe you. In this step, you would replace your mother with your ideal person - let’s say, Oprah. In this step, you are imagining Oprah saying the words you wish your mother had said. You are feeling supported, respected and safe. Visualize the entire scene, just as you wished it had taken place. Hear their soothing voice and their comforting tone. Imagine how supportive and protective they are. If you are in a space where you can say the words aloud to yourself, say it out loud - if not, say it silently. Breathe into this vision and feel it all the way into your heart. How does it feel to hear these words you needed to hear?
In this step, again we’ll use the example above. I’d like you to consider the fact that your mother is NOT Oprah. Your mother has different limitations, capabilities, and a history of her own. I’d like you to try to get to a place where you can accept the possibility that your mother did the very best she could.
Practicing this exercise alone is a healing exercise. Crying during this exercise is common, as well as any other emotions that come up. I would love to hear about how you’ve experienced this exercise, and if you’re ready to take action in a supportive and non-judgmental space, I’d love to have a chat with you and see if my foundation program, Stop Suffering Now and Make Peace With Your Past, is your next best step. In the program we spend 3 months focusing on what I believe you need to know NOW, today, to be able to really move yourself forward and to start seeing real and sustainable change. Consider it a journey toward recovery and relief and start working towards the life of your dreams, the life that you really want and the life you deserve. The journey takes you through the steps necessary from becoming aware to taking action. And in order to be able to take action, I’ve carefully designed the Stop Suffering Now and Make Peace With Your Past program. In Module 1, Stop Suffering Now, we focus on what I believe you need to know NOW, so you can get out of the pain you are in, start feeling some relief and begin to move yourself forward towards real and sustainable change. We’re going to be talking about all things awareness…see how the trauma is affecting you in your real day-to-day life, explore the impact it’s having and use the strategies to CHANGE that impact. We’re going to be making REAL change right away. We’re going to be learning how to go about trusting yourself and your decision making...and this is really going to help you move through your life with confidence. We’ll begin to talk about setting solid boundaries which will help you with all the relationships you have in your life. The impact of trauma is such an under-addressed problem….it’s important to talk about what it feels like to live day in and out with the aftermath of trauma. There is a big missing link in our understanding of relationship dynamics and the challenges that millions of people have.
We’re really talking about FOUNDATIONAL things too…...working on shoring up your foundation so that you are operating from a place of STRENGTH. You’ll be armed with the tools you need to begin a real MINDSET shift….that’s going to prepare you to move to Module 2, which is making peace with your past, and this is so important to do. This will free you from the burden of holding on to all those negative emotions so that you can lighten your load and move freely towards a different future, one that is peaceful and fulfilling so you can have a happier life. In order to do this, you will need to experience that mindset shift because we are going to go deep on forgiveness and acceptance of ourselves AND of others. We’re also going to be delving into shame, empathy, compassion…...all of these emotions…...and, remember, not only are you getting the information you need and the tools, tips, and strategies, but you’re also getting the support and the safe space you need to be ABLE to PROCESS all of these intense emotions. You are not going to be doing this on your own as I’ll be with you every step of the way. One of the things that’s been holding you back is holding on to wanting to CHANGE the past. We’re going to get into this and you’ll learn strategies that will ALLOW you to deal with your past in a healthy way. We’re going to be looking at forgiveness as a potential possibility and exploring different ways that forgiveness can be a part of your healing and we’ll be releasing the negative energetic component of holding on to the negative emotions so that you can get unstuck, let go of the pain, learn to stay in the moment and enjoy your life.
Don’t let shame and grief hold you back from the life you want! Schedule a complimentary call with me, find out more about my Stop Suffering Now and Make Peace With Your Past Program, and start taking the steps towards having the life you really want. 30-minute Healing Discovery Session call.