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Friday, October 17, 2014

Understanding the Nature of Guilt, Shame, and Vulnerability - Brene Brown - Conclusion - Part 4


What do we do to numb?  Addictions.  This can occur in a variety of forms: alcohol or drug abuse; high-risk sex; gambling; compulsive exercise or work; or repeatedly getting involved in emotionally or physically abusive relationships.  These are just a few examples.  We make the uncertain, certain.  Religion was a beautiful mystery of spirit infusing all of life, and there are many different pathways to the same God, however, we've come to a situation in our society and our world where my way is right, your way is wrong, and if you don’t follow my way, I’m going to kill you.  Our beliefs have become so restrictive and limiting, we don’t allow ourselves to open up to something bigger and more inclusive.  Instead, we believe we are right, and if you’re with us, we like you, you’re our friends, and if you don’t, you’re against us, and therefore, you are our enemy.  We also use blame as a way to discharge the pain and discomfort of guilt and shame.  The playwright Moliere in his play Tartuffe writes, “Those who have the most guilt and shame, are the first ones to accuse and blame.”  Blame is a method we employ to avoid facing what needs to be faced.  Another thing we do is we ‘perfect’, which doesn't work.  We get plastic surgery; we obsess over our bodies; we attempt to control the behaviors of the people in our world, because we see others in our world as a reflection of who we are, and if they are perfect, that must mean I am perfect; we do this to our children, and instead of giving them nurturing, love, and the tools to empower them to meet the challenges they will inevitably face in life, we try to make them these perfect little boys and girls.  And when they don’t measure up to our expectations of them, they are likely to experience emotional and psychological damage.  

Lastly, we pretend.  We pretend that what we do does not affect other people.  It does.  All of life is connected.  Plants give off oxygen which we need to breathe, and we exhale carbon dioxide which the plants need to live.  At the molecular level, the atomic soup of all living things is carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen.  This is found in every living thing you see: a butterfly’s wing, a parrot’s beak, a lion’s tooth, a leaf of a tree, and in you.  What we do affects all of life, because we are a part of life and life is a part of us.  Whenever you hurt another human being, imagine a sword right above your head, and whenever you strike out from your pain, that sword is reaching down and striking you.  What you do to others is what you do to yourself.   There is only one of us.  All of these things by themselves or used in combination prevent us from being real and authentic with the people in our lives.

Shame keeps us doing the same things over and over again because our souls want to heal from this pain.  The soul wants to be united with love, the love that it is, and the love that it shares with every living thing.  Anything that is not love will come up to be healed and transformed, if we recognize that this is what the soul is doing.  

So, how do we eliminate shame?  How do we eliminate guilt?  First of all, we must give ourselves permission to truly be seen.  We must be transparent; otherwise we are living in secrecy and hiding the things we don’t want others to see.  Our society has taught us it is better to lie about ourselves than to be open and honest with the people in our lives.  Everyone has at one time withheld the truth because it was our impression this would keep us safe and protected from the judgment and accusations of others that we are bad or wrong for feeling this way, which would then keep us from feeling love and connection.  I’m declaring this is wrong minded thinking.  It is better to speak the truth of who you are than to live a lie in order for people to like and love you.  Those who truly love you will love you more because of the courage you showed by opening up your heart to them honestly and truthfully.  Those who find fault or judge you harshly, are coming from a mind that doesn't understand what it means to live authentically, and the courage it takes to reveal the secrets that you hold.  Let them go, with acceptance, grace, and dignity, knowing the right people will come into your world who will accept you exactly as you are.  Truth plus transparency along with unconditional love equals healed.  You have to allow yourself to be seen by those with whom you can tell your story whole-heartedly to without being shamed for it or judged. 

Another thing to do to eliminate shame is to love with your whole heart, even though there is no guarantee you will receive love back.  You've got to go out into the world and love.  Be love.  As many people have said before, you can only give what you have, and thus, in order to give love, you must be love; you must recognize the love that is already inside of you and give it away.  It will come back to you, in some way, in another form; your job is to be what it is you want to experience.  You also want to practice gratitude, joy, and seeing the goodness and abundance in your life.  When you are able to see the good things in your life, which are right there in front of you just asking to be seen, you will slowly but surely pull yourself out of the prison house of shame.  Life is not all dark.  See the light, be drawn by the light, and light will infuse your world.  You call into your life what it is you want to see and experience.  Along with the desire to experience the light, you've got to feel that you are worthy of good things, that you are enough.  No one can give you what you already have.  No one outside of you can make you feel worthy, it comes from you.  You have everything inside of you right now.  Stop running away from the things you need to face.  Face it; with love, compassion, and understanding, and you’ll be able to free yourself from the guilt, shame, and pain of your past.

What do we learn from the Brene Brown video and from the analysis presented in these last 4 blogs?  If we don’t look at our guilt and shame, it will keep us in a place that doesn't allow us to be the fullest expression of who we are capable of being.  Guilt and shame imprisons us, binds our spirits, and holds us down at the mercy of our past actions and behaviors.  Guilt and shame is hell.  There is no other hell than that.  However, guilt and shame cannot survive empathy.  And when you find it within yourself to be truly honest, and to look at those places, re-contextualize those events and those experiences, to extract the gold from the dark, to pull out the things which are of value in your life, you will see that these were lessons for you to learn and grow so that you may become the person you are capable of becoming.  Without those experiences, you wouldn't be able to bring to the world what you were intended to bring into it.


Charlie Pacello is a PTSD, Depression, and Healing Trauma Recovery Expert and Life Coach, a former US Air Force Lieutenant, and creator of the program, 'Lt. Pacello's Life Training Program.'  He can be reached by visiting his website at