Shame, regret, guilt, and remorse are energetic contractions that negatively bind our energy in unhealthy ways. I work with many women who have hidden issues of shame around their inability to conceive. It may show up as feeling unworthy to bear a child or become a mother. Sometimes there are past issues which feed this contraction – like past abortions, past missed opportunities to become a parent; but oftentimes it is just a deeply suppressed feeling of somehow being flawed or wrong. The feeling of being innately flawed reminds me of the Christian idea of original sin. I remember the Lutheran liturgy we recited at church every Sunday that began with, “We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and have sinned against Thee by our thoughts, words and deeds." It is as if we could clean up our thoughts, words and deeds, we would somehow be worthy of grace. Somehow there was an ambiguous message here – that we needed to clean something up in order to receive grace.
I like the true meaning of sin – missing the mark. We all feel separate; and in that there is a sense of not measuring up. Not being worthy. But we don’t earn our way to hitting the mark; it’s something that we open up to. Not through effort, but through being real. Being who we are; not who we think we ought to be. When we are trying to measure up to some external standard of being: a good mother, a good wife, a good daughter, a good friend, a good Christian/Buddhist/Hindu/Muslim, someone who wouldn’t get an abortion, someone who wouldn’t have thoughts of envy, greed and anger every time we see a pregnant woman, someone who can’t become good enough… we reinforce the contraction of shame.
The emotional binding pattern that occurs is one of anger, worry, fear, and regret. Each of these emotions has a different directional hold; hence the difficulty in overcoming this complex mix. Physically, the diagnostic expressions can be a combination of kidney deficiency, spleen qi deficiency, liver qi stagnation, and blood stasis. Let’s open up each energy, and comb out the different energetic facets.
Anger – a powerful upward and outward dynamic moving us forward into new opportunities. When anger is at self, it holds this mighty force inward. (Liver Qi Stagnation) Worry – an internal cycle in the gut of trying to think our way out of a situation. (Spleen Qi Deficiency) Regret – a fierce holding that stems from believing the illusion that the past could have or should have been different. (Stasis) Fear – a downward pull that holds us back from life. (Kidney Deficiency)
We have powerful processes in retreat for releasing each of these strands, so that the concept of “shame” dissolves on its own. We cannot know our inherent honor, our inherent worth, without experiencing its polar opposite, shame.
I watched a movie last night where a woman was telling her story of shame. She actually got what she wanted through an act that felt shameful. But, she mused, perhaps honor is another face of shame. Perhaps we shouldn’t be ashamed of shame.