The hot sticky sickening feeling hits me in the belly. Shame, unfortunately, is my go-to emotion.
When I lived at an ashram in the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia, there were two emergencies that took place.
The temple, the most sacred building in the community, caught on fire. And a woman passed away tragically of anaphylactic shock.
With both instances, I felt it was somehow my fault and went into a deep place of shame, even though the circumstances were quite different.
When the woman passed away, I was one of the chef’s assistants in the kitchen. I wasn’t working in the kitchen the day that she passed but I had been working a few days prior and wondered what if I had made a mistake?
What if I had put sesame oil on a pan and not cleaned it properly and somehow that had resulted in her anaphylaxis?
My first reaction was it must be all my fault. I felt terrible and carried this around with me until I got some support.
With the fire, I was scheduled to go out of town that weekend for a dance workshop. I had my bag packed and was getting ready to leave when an announcement came on over the PA and said the temple was on fire.
I decided to leave and go to my dance workshop as planned but subsequently felt incredibly guilty for not staying to help. Logically I knew that me staying to help wouldn’t have prevented the fire or saved the building but I still felt guilt.
In both instances, I felt like I’d done something wrong, that I was to blame and that it meant that I was a bad person.
I now know that whenever there’s any kind of a crisis, that my first reaction will likely be shame.
And over time I’ve learned how to navigate and begin to heal this reaction.
And if you haven’t watched Brene’s two Ted Talks on shame, you absolutely need to watch them. You can find them here and here. I think I’ve watched them both a hundred million times ;).
If shame is something you’ve been struggling with, please join us at an Emotional Support Circle. This is a safe space to share whatever emotion is coming up for you and to receive support. The circles take place every Monday from 1:30 – 3:00 pm EST and are free or pay-what-you-can. You can register here.
Keep taking the best possible care of yourselves and get support in the moments you find yourself in shame,