This is me. In a bikini. At Six Flags White Water. I issued myself a challenge, and I accepted! The challenge was to accept my body for exactly the way it is right NOW, and to LOVE my body RIGHT NOW. Not when I weigh a certain weight. Or when my stomach is flat like it was in my twenties. Or any other IDEA I had about HOW I should look in order to wear a bikini. But to boldly shed the weight of the shame right now! And man was that freeing! I actually didn’t CARE what anyone thought!
Shame and guilt are big topics that rarely really get discussed. I mean, maybe on a surface level, but deep down we don’t often go there. The sad part is that going there, really digging in to explore where the shame comes from can really FREE us, and deliver us from the heavy burden of shame. This is a topic that we have discussed in depth in our women’s group Self-Centered Women.
So, guilt and shame, are they the same? Well, in short, no. Sometimes we confuse the two, but guilt is about our behavior, whereas shame is about who we are. Guilt says “I did something bad”, shame says “I am bad.” Once dissected we can see that guilt may help us change our habits and behaviors, while shame keeps us mired in the past, which we cannot change. I think this quote by Brene Brown about sums it up: “Guilt is just as powerful but it’s influence is positive, while shame’s is destructive. Shame erodes our courage and fuels disengagement.”
And here’s the thing, every time I accept myself for who and where I am right now, I can choose to work towards my greater potential, knowing that yes, I can do better! Brene Brown also says this, “When we choose growth over perfection, we immediately increase our shame resilience. Improvement is a far more realistic goal than perfection. Merely letting go of unattainable goals makes us less susceptible to shame. When we believe “we must be this” we ignore who, or what we actually are, our capacity and our limitations. We start from the image of perfection, and of course, from perfection there is nowhere to go but down.”
True self-care is deeply rooted in freeing yourself from shame. Think about it. What is it that holds you back from scheduling time to exercise, going to bed at a decent time, or taking the time to meditate? How many times have you thought “I am not a good spouse, parent, fill in the blank, if I take time for myself”? We think we should say yes to every request made of us in order to be a “good person.” There are pressures placed on us from many outside forces that tell us how we should spend our time, and very often these forces tell us that spending time taking care of ourselves is selfish. We believe that taking the time to take care of ourselves by practicing The Four Seeds of Self-Ca