Today's post is my first Vlog (!!) - and as the title suggest, it's all about shame. I share some of my personal experiences and perspective on carrying the burden of toxic shame, and how we can transform our shame and step into our power by turning towards it and taking ownership of it.
I am a crown prince of tiggering. Or I would be, if they gave out crowns and royal designations for getting triggered and acting a fool.
But, alas, they do not. Still, I have a colourful history of getting triggered and enacting outdated, inappropriate and toxic patterns - not an incredibly unique trait, I know. But one of the greatest journeys of my life so far has been studying the process of emotional “triggering” - in my own life. Slowing it down while I am in it, learning the signature thoughts and feelings of various unconscious patterns that have traditionally subsumed me, and developing the awareness and emotional resilience to withstand this type of inner coup.
Last summer I poured myself a glass of water and decided to try something different that I'd heard about:
I held my hands above the cup of liquid (which was simple, unadorned filtered tap water), closed my eyes, and started to imagine energy beaming out of the centres of my palms and into the water. I breathed into my heart as I visualized and felt the energy of money, joy, and material flow both inside me, and flowing through my palms, infusing my water with its essence the way a bag of tea would.
Except this was a lot more interesting than most tea - it was a flavourless, odourless alchemical infusion.
The mythology of Christmas tells the story of many of our deepest inner lives.
Take the hard-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge who, visited by three ghosts and taken back through time to witness the calcification of his empathy and humanity, has an incredible awakening to the divinity of self, other and life.
Most of the great Christmas stories we tell are some variation on this theme of heart-opening, often assisted by a child or divine intervention (ghosts, Santa etc). You might say that they all depict some form of transformation into Christ (or more accurately, Christmas) consciousness.
That’s a bit of a mouthful, I know.
It’s also the technical term for what happens when our intense, unresolved emotions manifest as physical symptoms - something we all experience, whether we are conscious of it or not.
For me personally, there’s almost an inside joke among my close friends around how intensely I ‘somaticize’. That is, how my emotions and the misaligned energy of others I interact with can easily, if I am not careful, manifest as severe physical symptoms.
Call it being highly sensitive, empathic, blessed or cursed, it is a colourful reality that I’ve come to respect and learn from. To put it really simply: when my brain loses the plot - when mentally I am comfortable with things that are totally unacceptable to my core self - my body doesn’t miss a beat in staging full scale revolt.
When I was about five years old, I was on a trip to the city with my family when I lost my wallet.
Somehow I had saved up fifty dollars - a significant fortune for my five year old self - so the level of devastation I experienced when somehow I wasn’t able to find my life’s savings, contained within my precious wallet, was profound.
A few years ago this experience came to the surface as I was doing some inner work and excavation around feelings of loss, betrayal and scarcity - all of which were certainly cultivated by the episode of my lost wallet.
How does a breakthrough become more than just a momentary rupture in our status quo, and actually result in lasting, meaningful change to our person, our behaviour and our life?
I have asked myself this question endlessly, both as an individual on a path of conscious healing who’s trying to figure out all of the stops and starts, all of the roadblocks and beacons - and as a facilitator who helps others both “breakthrough” oppressive patterns or situations, and learn how to anchor new ways of being in their lives day to day.
Author and psychiatrist Judith Orloff has a great quote that I am going to paraphrase here: "When you are empathic, there is no such thing as casual sex."
When I read that, it resonated with years of personal experience and observation - lessons I have learned through tough, sometimes devastating, love.
I sometimes shy away from using the term Spiritual, because there are so many practices that fall under that moniker which are really spiritual bypass.
Spiritual Bypassing - although it is an unfamiliar concept to some, is incredibly common. It could be considered a shadow side of a lot of spiritual practice.
In essence, it is present whenever we use spirituality to disconnect from - or bypass - things that are challenging, difficult to look at, painful, or that we are ashamed of.
It is in action when our spirituality enables us to disconnect from or gloss over what really matters. And it seems to happen in most spiritual traditions. Many Christians bypass their sexuality, many Buddhists their anger (yes, these are generalizations), and so on.
But why does it matter?
I have a lot to thank Polyamory for.
Let me be clear from the beginning though: I don't actually practice polyamory. However, my one brief foray into it's landscape was the catalyst for a period of deep soul searching that completely changed my life, in more areas than just intimate relationship.
Many years ago, I had been in a relationship with a woman for several months when they made it clear they were not comfortable with the relationship being exclusive.
The list of things I felt when I found this out was long and intense: Confused, devastated, overwhelmed...