We are more than the worst thing we have ever done, or the bad things that have happened to you, even if we feel we allowed it to happen. The forgiveness of today’s journey is of the inward kind. Don’t be ashamed of past mistakes, or parts of your life experience. It does not serve, nor do we deserve.  If we carry shame, we let it be part of what defines us.  And it doesn’t, or at least it doesn’t have to. I have carried thoughts and feelings of shame with me, most of my life. I should not have been ashamed to be Indigenous, low SES, alcoholic, having had cancer, and have landed in some dark places.  But I did.

As a 5-year-old, I was ashamed to have darker skin than all the other kids to the extent that I came home from kindergarten and asked my mom to stop suntanning.  It was the 70’s and it was the baby oil…. the browner the better days.  My mom had beautiful, bronzed skin and she was proud of it. I wasn’t.

I carried a lot of shame around both being Indigenous and alcoholic. To come from a family of alcoholics has shame built within it.

I believe most of my shame thinking came from these 6 words. Are people going to judge me?  My pride and my ego of being judged. I still do a little bit today.

Many of us feel or carry shame around something.  And we don’t need to.

Shame does not serve any purpose but to harm, like researchers such as Brene Brown has shown. I still work through shame that I carry within me around being alcoholic, Indigenous, and from things I allowed to happen to me that I wish hadn’t.  To manage these unhealthy feelings associated with shame is work in progress for me today.  We want to do is to take away the power shame has at diminishing our worth. 

So, what do we do if when feelings or thoughts of shame come up? How can we stop the shame spiral of emotion?  A tool we can all access and a skill we can all learn to use, is Self-Compassion.  I’ll bet we can  all think of a time in the last week where we have had compassion for another person. Now if we could place that same respect, love, and compassion on ourselves.  Now we can start freeing ourselves. For me, it was to practice  by using affirming words.  “Tina You are not your mistakes” “Tina, being an alcoholic is a disease”.  And my favorite these days. “I. Tina embrace the beauty and wisdom of my Indigeneity” “I own and embrace the Indigenous part of me”

So, let’s go easier on ourselves. Self-compassion, less judgment and more love are the recipe to help me with working though the feelings of shame that have imprisoned me. May you access your tool of self-compassion today and embrace the beautiful, unique amazing you!

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