We’ve all had an aha moment.

An insight or epiphany, where life alters. Circumstances loosen their hold, and we have a new freedom and vital energy to forward what matters to us. As the wisdom integrates, we consciously choose new behaviors and responses to life, not the same old patterns. We are in alignment.

And we’ve all been there, when the newness of that realization, fades into the background, and lulls us into a new normal. Pretty soon, the new normal becomes as constrained and limited as the previous one from which we had that breakout aha!

Curious Wonder

Earlier this year, I had an aha moment where I discovered a soft, womanly wisdom and curious wonder. In my new awareness, 2017 became the year of showing up and embodiment. I participated in community, attending and hosting events, circles, and reunions. I connected and shared with people deeply and authentically. Blocks disappeared through healing and coaching programs.

A New Normal

Isolation, embarrassment, and anxiety dominate my internal state.

I can’t find anything good to say, so I stop speaking about what matters to me.

Rather than look like a complainer, or worse, a failure, I stay strong, keep it together, and put on a good face.

I hide in plain sight, defer attention, change the subject, and stay “busy.”

I beat myself up; my shortcomings grow, and my world shrinks. I am miserable and don’t know why.

So I get it out of my head and into my journal, to find the root of all my (current) complaints about life. A common thread emerges and bigger picture comes into view. There’s good news and bad news.

Another cycle…

Irritating, yet beautiful. Awareness fades to the background so that issues arise, in a different light, with more nuance, for healing and dealing. Like levels of a video game, cycles offer obstacles, lessons, and tools for aligning toward a vision.

The common thread of my complaints: “I suck” on every count. This isn’t new. It feels true and heavy. WTF?!

It’s REALLY familiar. My Inner Critic.

In 2015, she came to my mind as a cartoony character I call Abusive Amy. She’s judge, jury, and executioner. By her account, I can’t do anything right, I can’t win, and I don’t matter. So why bother? In 2016, I collaged the feeling and mood of this pattern (to right). Yuck.

Now…this, AGAIN?!? UGH. I’m beaten down, defeated. I break. I bawl. I can’t see or think straight.

I surrender, hoping through the blindness I can get aligned. Curiosity sets in. It brings with it willingness… to be vulnerable, seen, even wrong.

I recall that there seems to be lots of judgment around lately. The words “shame on you” show up frequently. Monica Lewinsky’s name is on my list of TED talks to watch. My DVR queue contains Brene Brown (vulnerability expert) on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.

I watch, read, research and feverishly consume everything about shame as it relates to human behavior, psychology, and emotional health. (Well, maybe not everything, but I went down the link tunnels from here (1, 2).

The dots connect! 

Shame says, “I am bad” and pertains to a person.
Guilt says, “I did something bad” and pertains to action, blame, and remorse (3).

For the first time, I can define this “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that I am flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging” as SHAME (4).

Like any limiting belief, I made up “I’m bad” to make sense of what was happening in my life.

Suddenly, I see my experiences of shame and being ashamed as separate from me.

Up to now, shame was a spiral that sucked me in and down to the bottom. Like a tornado, it ripped away empowering thoughts, positivity, and sense of accomplishment, leaving me disintegrated and disoriented.

Aha! We’re back…

To that moment of awareness,…where we connect newly with our divine spark. In the presence of divinity, we align to what matters and let that spark shine. We have permission to just BE a human BEING.

In this moment, peace permeates my being. I confess to the covering up, hiding out, and pretending. I speak the truth of the present, not stories of the past or fantasies of the future. I shed the shell of shame surrounding me, seeing and owning all that I have already accomplished.

Feeling light and free, I see new actions to take in creating the year of embodiment and showing up…without the shame.

And, I’m curious…

What judgements does your Inner Critic run about you?
How do you interact with / talk to your Inner Critic?
Where in your life have you experienced a cycle like this?

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shame
  2. http://www.psychsight.com/ar-shame.html
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201703/whats-the-difference-between-guilt-and-shame
  4. http://brenebrown.com/2013/01/14/2013114shame-v-guilt-html/