Mental connection Richard J. Read  

Your Walk of Shame – The Happiness Connection

Have you ever been in a situation that left you wanting the ground to open up and swallow you up?

Of course you have. You are human.

Some people are more easily embarrassed than others. For many years, I was one of those people. I think it’s because I was brought up to care too much about what other people thought of me.

I was trying to be who I thought I should be, rather than who I really am. This person had to be kept out of sight.

I learned to deal with embarrassment when I was 20 years old. I used these experiences as dinner entertainment. No situation was too mortifying to share with my friends, who burst out laughing.

Everyone loves to hear about the worthy experiences of another person. We can all identify with and imagine ourselves in a similar situation.

I wonder if I would be so quick to share things that I’m really ashamed of.

This thought arose because embarrassment is a mild version of shame.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines shame as a painful emotion caused by awareness of guilt, inadequacy, or impropriety.

In other words, shame surfaces when you say or do something that reinforces a deeply hidden belief that you are somehow broken or not good enough.

You don’t want others to notice it, so your first instinct is to walk away from everything that has happened. This usually involves running from it or burying it deeply so that you can pretend it never happened.

I think shame is an emotional mushroom. Mushrooms do not like direct sunlight. It prefers a shady environment.

Shame too. He doesn’t want you to expose him, because then he would die.

He prefers to lie down in the dark, waiting for the slightest chance to resurface. Usually when you least expect it. Whenever this happens you are reminded of how inadequate you are.

The lower your self-esteem, the easier it is for shame to materialize. When you already think that you are less than you should be, you are using this lens to interpret your experiences.

As long as you keep the shame hidden, it will thrive. The best way to deal with it is to expose it to the light of day.

I experimented with this idea. Is it possible to stop shame in its tracks, simply by choosing to recognize it and look directly at its source?

What better place to start my trial than with my longtime nemesis, my body image?

I have been ashamed of my figure for most of my life. It didn’t match the images I was surrounded by when I was growing up. The media convinced me that I must look like Twiggy.

Being slim and having a flat chest was the ideal body shape at the time. It was never going to be me. Even when I was very thin, I was still plump.

I’m sure you can relate to looking back at old photos and regretting that you didn’t appreciate how you looked. If you’ve always loved and appreciated your physical self, think about something else that you felt was insufficient.

I decided the best way to get rid of this destructive emotion was to stop hiding – from myself. I needed to bring to light what I believed had been broken and let it be seen. Not just once, but regularly.

It was time to stop behaving like my body was something to hide. Instead of looking away from the mirror when I stepped in or out of the shower, it was time to fix my eyes on my reflection. I wanted to be able to look at myself without the usual prism of criticism.

I added more opportunities to bring out my physique by doing my morning and bedtime routines without anything. It was uncomfortable at first, but like everything, I got used to it.

One morning, I was shocked to see that the body that was sent back to me looked different. I no longer saw a woman the size of a barn. Instead, I was greeted by someone with a large build with long limbs.

I have spent my life looking through a warped lens. Yes there are fat deposits and wrinkles but they don’t make me look ugly or substandard. They are just part of me and the choices I made.

My attitude changed because I was ready to expose my shame and expose it to the light.

No matter what your body looks like, it always deserves to be nourished and treated with love and respect. You don’t have to look like a model to be worthy of admiration and affection.

It’s time to stop thinking you’re broken. You don’t need to be fixed. This applies to your mental and emotional aspects, as well as your physical appearance.

Treat shame with a strong dose of light. It can only thrive if you hide it in deep, dark shadows.

For me, the process was painful at first. But the end result was worth every moment of my pain.

You are without doubt your harshest critic. It’s unlikely that someone else will judge every flaw and conclude that you are not good enough.

In the change that someone is, don’t worry. What they think is not part of your journey. It’s on them.

The only one you should care about accepting yourself is yourself.

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