“Cleansing often brings the worst to the surface before it is dismissed. The first stage of a washing machine cycle is called “agitation.” The clothing needs to be stirred up to loosen the accumulated dirt. To look into a washing machine while the basket is agitating, you see a fowl mire of grime rise to the surface of the water. If you did not know better, you might think that the clothes were getting dirtier and be tempted to shut off the machine. But that would be foolish; the dirt is not being added, as it might appear – it is being removed. In the presence of flowing water (metaphysically representing Spirit), the dirt is drained away, leaving fresh, clean garments. If you just stay with the process, the cycle will complete itself, and soon the clothes will be much cleaner than when the process began.” Alan Cohen, “I Had It All the Time”
I woke up feeling agitated, irritable and like I had been hit by a truck. My dreams were about struggle and not being able to get to where I wanted to be. I KNEW something was being dredged up from my unconscious to be healed and transformed. I was in the washing machine cycle called “AGITATION” and it felt awful.
When I went to bed the night before, I shared with Larry that I felt BAD and ASHAMED when I got off the phone with John, my computer guy. I downloaded the new Windows 10 to my computer, but I couldn’t figure out how to get my pictures from my IPhone to my desktop. A friend suggested I go back to Windows 7 which I did and was successful with.
Unfortunately, I still couldn’t get my pictures to my desktop even with the old Windows 7. If anything causes me stress and I want to pull my hair out, it is dealing with computers and technology. I called John and asked for help. John has always been very patient with me and is able to help me. John must have had a bad day because he appeared frustrated and said, “You need to take a computer class because you should know this stuff by now.”
John’s remark and frustration triggered my SHAME. The SHAME was still deep inside in my unconscious and needed healing. It must be REVEALED to be HEALED. It really had nothing to do with John. If the shame wasn’t inside of me, I would have thought, “John is having a bad day and has nothing to do with me.” But I internalized it and felt “bad and wrong,” that I didn’t know what John thought I should know. Feeling “bad and wrong and not good enough” is at the core of a shame-based person.
When I shared with Larry what I was feeling when I woke up, he read the above passage from Alan Cohen’s book to me. It helped me understand what was going on and what was being “dredged up” from my unconscious. Larry encouraged me to trust the process and asked, “How can I support you today?” This was an opportunity for me to nurture myself, re-parent myself and give myself self-love and compassion, rather than beat up on myself. I spent the day in prayer, loving and nurturing myself and within a few hours, I was back to myself. I wrote in my journal, “Today I will allow the light and love of God to flow through me, heal me and transform me. I will re-parent myself and give myself everything I need.
Growing up with an alcoholic mother, I wasn’t encouraged to ask questions or ask for help. I had to figure things out on my own. I was EXPECTED to know the answers, even though I wasn’t often taught how to do things. I PRETENDED to know what I was doing, but often felt “inadequate and not good enough inside.” It was hard to ask for help because I didn’t want to feel vulnerable and ashamed if I didn’t know the answers.
Thank God I know the truth today and have changed that belief. Today, I ask for help when I need it and am not ashamed if I don’t know the answers. I know it is healthy to ask for help and that it is unhealthy to put unrealistic expectations on myself.
Larry’s experience with shame
When do you feel shame? Underneath the shame could be thoughts of unworthiness, inadequacy, not good enough, not smart enough or thoughts of being a failure. As a parent, I have felt some of the above at different times. I have not always recognized this as shame until recently. People don’t talk about it because of its insidious nature.
There may be times in your life when you have felt ashamed because you didn’t think you were a “good enough” friend or supportive enough. You may feel some shame about how you look; too thin, too fat, too tall, not pretty enough, etc. I have felt shame about not having a higher education which made me feel “less than” others.
Many people believe their worth has to do with how much money they earn. Society often judges us by the amount of money we earn and when we have a lot of money, we are deemed successful. When we don’t measure up to those standards, we may judge ourselves to be a failure, which ultimately becomes shame.
In my own life, I have experienced shame when I put too much value on my ability to dance perfectly. I am leaving myself open to react in a negative way when my partner makes a mistake because I see it as a reflection on me. In this area of dance, I realize that I have been too concerned about what other people will think of me. It seems that my ego and wanting to be perfect has allowed me to forget that what other people think of me is none of my business. Thankfully, in many areas of my life, I believe that “what other people think of me is none of my business.”
My grandparents were farmers in Connecticut and had emigrated from Lithuania. They spoke broken English and when I was with them, I often felt ashamed of them because they couldn’t speak correct English. Then I felt ashamed of myself for feeling that way about them. Apparently, I saw it as a reflection on me.
Parents can often, unknowingly, put their high expectations on their children (get all A’s, pass this test, attend college). When children don’t think they measure up, they may not feel “good enough” because they think they are disappointing their parents.
Could it be that shame comes from a “hole in the soul” that only LOVE can fill and heal? When we learn to give ourselves self- love and acceptance, the feelings of shame and not being good enough will no longer have power over us.
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