Process of Illumination

Choosing “Me”

The playlist at Rooster is so funny today. It’s some pop music from my youth, but the really cheesy stuff like “Oh What a Lonely Boy”, “Mandy”, “You Fill Up My Senses”… you get the idea… I find it so refreshing and I’m sitting here, singing along.

Part of that pre-amble is probably me just procrastinating. I’m feeling a little “off” today and somewhat unsettled. I’ve been thinking about why that is all morning and I think it has to do with a few things which threw me off over the past few days. Let’s see if I can work it though by writing it out.

As you know, I’ve been really good the past two weeks or so, since my “holiday breakdown”. I’ve been in a daily morning meditation practice, saying affirmations, eating really healthy, getting lots of rest, practicing self care and taking some flower remedies to help transform some of the feelings that are coming up. I’ve been really calm, asking for what I need, saying “no” wherever necessary and not doing anything that feels less like a choice and more like an obligation. The result is that I’ve been productive and energetic (even though I’ve had a bad chest cold the whole time), my resentment level is way down and the interactions with the people in my life have all been really positive. I’m noticing that my kids are taking me more seriously and following through with little or no resistance. In general, nothing has really changed overnight so the fact that I’m suddenly feeling thrown off must have to do with a few things that happened over the past few days and, collectively, my sense is that they are hitting my “shame button”.

Without going into too much detail, it started on Friday night when I went out for dinner with a friend. We were at the restaurant for over 5 hours and ended up drinking a LOT more than I’m used to. On top of that, I had been on a detox cleanse for the previous 2 weeks so I think my system was in shock. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling great on Saturday but thankfully, that was overshadowed by the fact that I had a really fun time Skypeing with someone who was kind enough to offer me a live Squarespace tutorial (which is the platform I’m moving my website to). I spent most of Saturday and Sunday working eagerly on my new website design, which is very exciting.

On Sunday, however, I had a run-in with someone. The exchange was rather brief and I managed to stay out of my defenses and in my power while still “standing on my scared ground” but the other person was pissed off and on a mission to inflict pain. They had a problem with a choice had I made and verbally attacked me, pulling out all the stops in an effort to shame me. I was accused of “letting someone down” and, in fact, the words “shame on you” were actually used. Whether they realize it or not, this person knows exactly where my weak spots are and when they shoot, they shoot to kill.

Because I did my best to come from a place of worthiness, I felt I handled that exchange well and when it was done, I figured it was over and I would just move on.  However, when I started to feel triggered by a few other unrelated things that came up, it made me start to wonder if that encounter was really as benign as I had originally thought. Not only was I suddenly “rewinding” to find problems with choices I have made in the past but I was doubting myself and feeling fear for the future because of the empowering choices I have been making recently. It’s part of the same theme that I’ve been writing about the past few weeks. Even though I’ve been really successful at keeping the “shame gremlins” at bay most of the time, I realize that, when I’m under attack, I’m still vulnerable to the unconscious tape that plays, which is basically this:

“If I choose me, in whichever way (having fun, traveling, getting massages, saying “no”) I’m being selfish and letting others down. Others’ needs are more important than mine so I don’t deserve to put mine first. On the other hand, I have committed to practicing Self-Love and I’ve learned that choosing “me” is an essential part of that. Therefore, I don’t choose “me”, I will feel resentment… and if I do choose “me”, I must feel ashamed, to balance it out. ”

What I want to get across with all of this is how easy it is for us to get blindsided by shame, even when we are doing so well in most other areas. There will always be those who can’t handle the fact that you are living your life in a way that feels good for you and who won’t understand that you aren’t willing to sacrifice that to make them feel better. They may even judge you, try to bully you or shame you into doing what they want you to do. What’s more, I want us to remember that their attacks will have an effect on us and we will want to rely on our default coping strategy (aka armour, defenses, counter-attack). However,  if we are to practice being authentic and vulnerable, we have to remain open and stand our ground, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. In this work, we are not trying to protect ourselves from shame, we are building our resilience to shame. And as I become more aware of how shame can sneak up me when I least expect it, I can learn to be ready with kinder, more loving messages to say to myself in the moments when it creeps in.

I’ve been doing the “Gifts of Imperfection” 6-week e-Course with Brené Brown as part of Oprah’s Life Class series and it’s been a really amazing way to support myself in doing this work. It’s based on her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”, which I highly recommend.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Brené, which includes a mantra that I’ve adopted:

“I have a little boundary mantra now… ‘Choose discomfort over resentment’. In those moments that sometimes it’s uncomfortable to say “No, I can’t,” or “I’m sorry, I’m not available,” and it feels uncomfortable. But it’s so much better for me to choose being uncomfortable in a moment, than feeling complete resentment and judgment forever.”

All blessings to you…