Shame is an emotion that society uses to control people, to make us ‘less than’. It’s utterly self-defeating and one of the many gifts we can give ourselves in our recovery is to let go of Shame.
Shame can weigh really heavily on our whole being – and so to feel better, we need a sort of spiritual weight-loss programme. Our aim here is to feel lighter and free. That makes us healthier and releases energy for our forward progress in recovery.
Oh – and here’s a thing. Shame and stigma are inextricably linked. So how would it be if we could all work together towards dissolving Shame, thereby lessening the Stigma around Addiction? Shame and stigma feed each other and it’s time to let go of all that nonsense.
Letting go of Shame means we can let go of our STORY. Rehearsing our story again and again in our heads and beating ourselves up for what we did or didn’t do, is what keeps us stuck.
It’s an energy thing. When we shift all this stuff, we begin to find things go better in our lives. We are no longer struggling to get through the day as we once did. This has worked for me and it might just work for you, if you want it to.
Your tools for letting go of Shame (and your story around why you feel Shame) are Awareness, Acceptance and Action (This comes from Step 10 of the 12 Steps).
AWARENESS, ACCEPTANCE, ACTION
You CAN try this at home!
Start by bringing your awareness to your emotions a few times during the day. It doesn’t have to be for long – a few seconds here and there will be enough. When you realise you’re feeling Shame, don’t push it away or bury it. Just acknowledge that it’s there. When you acknowledge the feeling of Shame, you are accepting it.
A practical tip – as soon as you acknowledge that you’re feeling Shame, notice that it loses some of its power over you. This is where you can let the magic begin to happen. Every time you do the simple, brief exercise described above, a bit more of the Shame you are carrying will dissolve. (Don’t beat yourself up if you forget to acknowledge Shame now and again. Remember the 12 step slogan “Progress, not perfection”).
And now – Action. Going to an Al-Anon meeting can really help when we are experiencing a difficult emotion such as Shame.
I’ve noticed how when I share my feelings around any of my challenges or experiences in an Al-Anon meeting, I feel so much calmer afterwards. There’s a magic in the non-judgemental witnessing of my experiences by those who have been through this stuff themselves. They listen, they don’t comment or dispense advice; there’s an almost tangible feeling of empathy, support and acceptance from the other people in the rooms of Al-Anon. When we share our darkest secrets in meetings, we find that we are not alone. We see the disease of Addiction more clearly and realise that others have been or are going through the same experiences and emotions as our own family.
By exposing our Shame to the light of day we dissolve it and we take back our own power. That’s a hell of a step forward into our Recovery.