Where Your Shame Is

One of my strong memories of Marcy will stay, of this Halloween. 

She was tired after her day at school. She had gone back to college to get her nursing degree. She was tired, like a shirt that had been over washed in hot water. She was the kind of tired that looked like the good emotions in her water bottle had been slurped down, and the refill was still in the fridge in her kitchen corner. At home. And she was still in the car.

These feelings started to increase and crescendo, and pretty soon she was tieing into memories of failure in her past. A young child who heard her parents yelling at each other in foul language. Marcy heard, “My family doesn’t love each other or me.” A kid who dressed poorly and Mom said, “Go change. You look terrible.” Marcy heard, “I’m an ugly kid.” A teen who didn’t get invited to the parties that she knew were going on. She heard in this, “I’m not likeable.” A young adult who watched her mother walk out on her father. Marcy heard, “I’ll never be someone worth committing to.” And now on halloween, with her daughter coming home from school, Marcy felt like a failure as a student and as a mother.

She told me about this, last week. We were in the quiet space of my office. Lamp light shone over the beta-fish hiding behind his splashing filter. 

Marcy told me, she was wilted there, in the seat beside her daughter. Saying words in effort of trying to be understood, she spoke, and she cried. At some point, Marcy realized she thought that if she didn’t go trick-or-treating with her kids, it meant she was a let-down. She wasn’t a good mother.

Not only was she someone who gets tired too easily, she was also a flake.  

Marcy threw out a few options; how to make this right for them. Then her mind opened up and processed these. She saw her inner beast let shame go. Something better in her said that she would give what she could, and discharge the rest. 

Marcy, in talking it out with her daughter, made herself vulnerable to what brought her shame. In that, she let the truth surface that she was, actually, not “a piece of crap,” after all.

Building on what our living experiences are, rather than disenchanting, they are healing. The easy fantasy that comes from comparison, from fabricated idealism, and from the personalizing of it, is destructive. We can be resilient by building on real experiences. We can be present and connected both to ourselves and others.

Brene Brown speaks on wholehearted living:  “It’s about the willingness to be imperfect, to be vulnerable. It’s about the courage to wake up in the morning and acknowledge that no matter what gets done and what doesn’t get done, that I’m enough, and that I’m worthy of love, belonging, and joy.”

Halloween will be a reminder to me of Marcy letting shame go, not identifying with the thin logic of her own self-inadequacies, and of getting into the living of it. That’s courage. That is brave.

Self-Care Tip: Start exploring where your shame is, and let your real experiences speak toward your belonging and self-value.

 

Question: In what areas of your life do you feel like you are not enough?

What has helped you discover your reality?

Please tell your story! We need to hear from you. Keep on!

Say It Out Loud. Three Day Challenge.

Hello friends. Please join us at Friend to Yourself in a three day, “Say it Out Loud,” challenge.

Throughout the next three days, whenever you think of something you like & are grateful for about yourself, say it out loud to us.

I’ll start! 😉

I like my body.

Say It Out Loud.

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The Elephant is in The Room To Help Us

English: The eye of an asian elephant at Eleph...

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How do I get him to see it?

How do we get our friends, our husbands, our wives and kids and patients to see the elephant in the room?  My patients ask me this and I ask this of myself.

I want to feel better.  I just want to get to the bottom of this!  

Will someone please just treat what is wrong and I can move on?!

There is this implication that someone is plotting against progress to derail us from appropriate therapies, treatments, walnuts and soy milk.  Why they would want to do that, no one agrees on.

When Cincy said something to this effect in clinic, a huge shade in the shape of an elephant in the room, caught my eye and it was distracting.  I smiled at the wraith and conspired with it on how it could best gain acclaim.  I tried to explain what I was seeing to Cincy, but how does one describe an apparition?  I’ve never heard anyone do it better than Edgar Allan Poe and so I know it can be done.  I’m learning.  I needed to learn from Cincy.

Teach me Cincy.  Help me learn how to speak of these things better.

I felt like I should know that already.  But we physicians don’t graduate with a certificate in introducing elephants.

Trying to do the teaching-thang in clinic or out of clinic, if we want to get anywhere, we can’t do much if we aren’t both seeing the elephant.  Talking about solutions, about treatments, motives or anything that doesn’t redirect each of us back to that specter in some way is skipping critical development.  Counterintuitive, the immediate task at hand becomes more and more simple when there are ghosts about.

He doesn’t want me to take medication because he is afraid of what his mother will say.

Start talking about Me and not about him.  How does Me factor in to deciding on medications?

Smoking is my last vice and I’m not here to talk about it.  I’m here to talk about why I’m tense all the time.

Tension happens when our blood vessels constrict.  Tension increases when our heart rate….

Well, goodness.  You don’t want this from me now on this post.  I’m just trying to talk about that darn elephant.

When things feel complicated, when conspiracies seem to be around, when we hear ourselves naming others to explain our condition, when we avoid talking about something and when we lose Me -> reduce.  Still missing it?  Get even more basic.  Soon we’ll see the shade.  The elephant is there to help us, not shame us.  He’s there to bring us back to Me where everything starts and ends.

Question:  How has the elephant in the room improved or worsened your self-care?  Please tell us your story.

You are Valuable. Being With You Is A Privilege. Even for You.

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You are valuable.

Things in life; status, emotions, perception of different realities change – but this will not.  You are valuable.  Any time with you, even if only in your thoughts, is an immense privilege – for me or anyone, including you.  You? Privileged to be with you?  Yes.

Have you ever lost yourself?  Have you felt the heat hit your face when your thoughts fly into a rage, words rushing out as if exploding dynamite.  Bewildering, no?  You know then.

Have you forgotten where your car keys are but do not care because you are still in bed and have no motivation to move.  Your calendar, that once excited the tap of your fingers across your keyboard, holds no interest now.  You hide, ashamed but mostly you just do not want to explain to others.  “Too much energy,” you think.  If so, you know then that being with you is a privilege.

All these things you despise are reminders that you are precious and of immense value.  You are worth anything and everything to have the chance of holding once again.  You are the reason people crossed the prairies, fought against the sun and hunted for food to survive.  You are the reason the ark survived for forty days and forty nights.  You are the reason precious metals are considered lovely.  And it is because of you that you want to be your friend.  You are valuable.

In the previous chapter, we talked about Briggs and his wife.  They did not like the condition they were in, but they valued themselves as evidenced by seeking help.  While taking their history, I gathered together the names of medications Briggs had taken, when he took them, why he took them, how long, why he stopped and what they did for him.  And then the foreboding came.  I started thinking about numbers.

Now, you know that I am not a number person.  Remember?  “Big fat F.”  (F for feeler in terms of Jungian Typology.)  But here was Briggs and when the numbers started obstructing my “F” I got uncomfortable.  That meant to me that Briggs was risky.  He could die.

In Chapter One, I asked you, “Is there any treatment you think is too extreme to consider to get brain health?”  I did not say this directly to Briggs but I said it.  In my thoughts, Briggs is so courageous to fight the cruel sun the way he does.  In my thoughts, he is why freedom and fresh flowers and hope remain.  He is valuable.  I wanted to know his answer.

“Briggs, what do you want to do now?” 

Our culture does not remember that Briggs is the reason that diamonds cost more than more.  Culture tells us that he is damaged and not so much of a treasure.  Culture says, some treatments are shameful and the value of hiding shame is more than the value of Briggs, or me, or you.  For shame.  The value of Me is more than the value of hiding shame.

We are part of culture and culture is part of us.  Knowing what we want to do when what we have done has not yet worked, this knowing begins with our culture and with our self-value.  This knowing of Me increases our freedom to choose.  Knowing the value of Me increases our courage to choose what is difficult, what takes energy and hard work and a standing up against stigma and the taking of risks.  Knowing what we want to do when starts with knowing the value of Me.

You are valuable and being with you is a privilege.

Questions:  

  • Do you know your value?  

  • If you are lost, what are you willing to do to be with yourself again?  

  • How has knowing your self-value increased your freedom to choose?  

  • How has knowing your self-value helped you decide what to do when you were or are ill?

Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Remember your value.

Revenge – Not so Friendly to Me

Original caption states "A photograph tak...

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If you have been around kids much you may marvel as I do, how fast they dish revenge.  I’m here to tell you, if you eat food off of my son’s plate, you should run.  Yet, seeing my or your four year-old hit someone is much less awkward than seeing an adult do it.  But they do.

Ingred told me that she had been humiliated at the make-up counter of Sephora.  A stranger had called her a bad name.  The stranger said it loud enough that other customers and staff heard it too, Ingred was sure.

“I just told her to go F— herself!”  

Unfortunately for Ingred, she was soon escorted out of the store by security who didn’t care about Ingred’s story and just wanted to keep the peace.  Also, unfortunately for Ingred, she essentially absolved the stranger of what little remorse she may have felt before Ingred retaliated.  Ingred essentially dissipated the natural introspection that comes to us after we misbehave, the natural drive to right our wrongs and the self-care that that stranger was due for.  Ingred had “paid the price” for both.  Ingred made herself the scape goat.

Ingred needed to buy into this concept but also that for her, everything starts and ends with Me.  Like us, Ingred takes care of her own feelings and behaviors to get friendly with herself. Taking revenge, getting even and responding by acting out we are trying to take care of their feelings and behaviors.  That’s not friendly to Me.

Inversely, if Ingred, or my four year-old son, had owned their feelings as their own, been accountable to their shames and angry selves and adapted to this stressor, they would have … Well you tell us.

Questions:  What has happened to you in these situations?  And how do you take care of your own emotions and behaviors, and account for them even when you perceive that you are provoked.  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care tip – Revenge isn’t friendly to Me, but being accountable to why we want revenge is, so try it out.

Become a Better Friend To Yourself In and With Your Culture

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Image by Toban Black via Flickr

A barrier to getting friendly with ourselves might be our culture.  The inverse of course could also be true.  ‘Takes culture to design the flavor of our homes and habits, our communities and the energy between us and them.  Think, TV in the bedroom, alcohol tasters offered to children, books or the absence of books on the floor and shelves.  Think religion and diet, family meals or take-out.  The way we deal with shame.  Culture is a gate-keeper for many of us.

We could call our culture, the way we live together at home, the balance between each family member and the flavor of emotions there.  Culture might be layered, wrapping us from one balance of energy into another into another creating our own galaxy between each point of light.  In any room, if we look we can find culture.  In any space outside, there is a flavor telling us how to maintain the balance between me and thee.

I don’t know if sociologists look at culture this way yet, but I hope they will.  With all that observing, data gathered and surmising, I hope they study how the individual can be a better friend to herself in “this” culture.  And then I hope they tell us.

Becoming an active designer of your culture is not always easy.  But it is friendly.

Questions:  How has your culture introduced you to your friend, “Me?”  How have you been able to develop a more friendly culture for Me to live in and grow in?  What’s still keeping you?  Please tell me your story.

Don’t Run Away. You Might Fall In Love With Your Flaws.

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Empower yourself by going towards what scares you.  Take it to the table and be with it.  Get to know it and openly share company with it.

Opal was throwing up.  She threw up more when she gained weight or felt fat.  Throwing up didn’t help her lose weight.  It was just a tool she had to deal with it all.  Opal was told often not to worry about her weight.  Told, she looked fine and not to weigh herself.  No one said openly, “Opal, you’ve gained weight and you’re going to get other illnesses because of it if it keeps going.”  They were afraid saying anything like that would make her throw up.  Hm.

What do you say?

We remember the three things that help maintain long-term weight loss.  Well one of the main reasons they work is because they help keep us present with “the problem” or “fear” or “shame” or however we name it.  Our natural instinct is to go away from fear but this is another example of when we don’t get help following our instincts.

What empowers Opal is to get tools to contend with her struggle with obesity.  It is probably a life-er for her and oh-well!  We can love our flaws better if we stop running from them and grow our skills in living with them in a friendly way.

Get empowered with whatever you are afraid of in yourself.  If you can’t do what you need to do to be in the place of that fear, it may be that you have a medical illness keeping you from coping better.  It doesn’t mean you’ve failed.  Staying with your journey, even to taking medication, even to naming brain illness in your life is so courageous.  You become one of the great ones.  Heroic.  It is so much easier to disconnect and lose our opportunity to love our flaws.

Have you ever heard someone call their life-er, “my old friend?”  Maybe it is arthritis?  Or recurring cancer?  Maybe it is brain disease.  Some day, we will also name our own, “my old friend.”  And we, with Opal, will mean it.

Self-Care Tip – Empower yourself by your presence.

Questions:  How do you do what is friendly to yourself when your instincts tell you not to?  What has that done for you?  Please tell us your story.