Shame and Secrecy


Shame is about secrecy, about being guarded. I lived my life always playing a role. I kept up my guard so that I would never be too vulnerable. I continuously looked over my shoulder believing that there was a hunter, who was going to expose me. Someone would find out that I’m flawed and defective, that I’m not what people think I am, that I’m not a hero, achiever or an ideal man. Mostly, I was just anxious and threatened by anything out of my control.


I was raised by a harsh and overly critical mother. She wasn’t much for showing affection. She believed being soft was a sign of weakness- and she deplored weakness. As I grew up, I naturally took that role over from her.


So I lived with great anxiety because of my shame. Shame always sent me into hiding. Shame is about having eyes on you when you are not ready for others to see you. Shame is also the sudden explosion of experience when the unexpected happens, and you are “brought down to size”—embarrassed or discovered lacking and not enough.


How could I ever learn to love myself if I was living in the shame of my “shadows”? Shadows are those dark parts of who we are that we keep hidden. My shame became toxic; I was no longer feeling it, I was believing it. If someone gave me a compliment or told me how important I was to him, I often felt embarrassed or self- conscious. Immediately, I would start to believe that they were only being nice to me or wanted something from me.


As I started to heal, I became aware that shame was eating me alive. Shame was consuming all of my time with thoughts of resistance and fear of failure. But, there was a part of me that knew this could not be true. I call this my higher self—that small still voice that always encourages me to get back up and try again.

I now only trust that voice and no longer buy into the stories of my mind. Our minds sometimes insist that this “still voice” is the illusion. The more I trusted this voice, the more my threatened mind would fight to pull me back into a trance of unworthiness.


Reprogramming your thinking is an exercise in self love and compassion. It requires your higher self or higher mind to take authority over your tendency to be critical and to challenge the stories that show up when you are triggered by vulnerability.

I now am aware that my vulnerability is a gift not a curse. And when the ugly face of shame shows up–and it inevitably will–I can challenge my mind by exploring ways I can be more compassionate and tolerant to myself. All thoughts of shame are just the evidence of an “un-questioned mind.”

Learn to be kind to yourself, not just in deeds, but in the holding of your own tender heart during moments of vulnerability induced by the monster of shame.


Photo by BlueRobot

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