Let's be Shameless
Updated: Jun 25
As humans we have a tendency to shy away from things about ourselves that we don’t like, are frightened or ashamed of.
We have somehow deluded ourselves into thinking that we are striving for perfection. We need to be amazing and perfect at all times. No flaws allowed. And the moment we see any flaws we tend to do one of three things: defend, hide or deflect.
The idea of not being perfect or good enough is appalling to us. When we find a part of ourselves that we don’t like we either want to shove it into the darkness of our shadow or we want to annihilate ourselves (and anyone else) for seeing it.
It appears that we are not only scared of what is “out there”, we are also scared of what is “in here”.
But in our attempt to hide the parts that we do not like, we disable our ability to know ourselves. We rob ourselves of fully experiencing the most important relationship of our lives; the relationship with our self.
When we know ourselves we have power. When we know ourselves we have strength. When we know ourselves we have agility. These are three very important ingredients for resilience.
Acknowledging our flaws
Picture having a much-loved vehicle that is used for wonderful adventures. What would you do if you discovered that the vehicle had a little quirk or flaw?
Perhaps the petrol gauge lacks accuracy, and indicates there is a 1/4 tank left when it’s actually close to empty.
Would you need to feel shame?
Because knowing that information is helpful isn't it? You can use that knowledge to get the most out of the vehicle.
Imagine treating ourselves like a treasured possession, flaws and all. Perhaps rather than immediately feeling shame and shoving our human frailties into the crevices of our shadow, we could acknowledge them with the attitude of, “Great -- I know that now; I can work with that information.”
What if we recognised all the little quirks of who we are as a way to make better use of ourselves?
Instead of hiding all the parts of ourselves that we don’t like, what would happen if we brought them into the light? What if we invited all these parts to join us around the fire so that we could get to know ourselves and then get the most out of life?
By hiding these "shameful" parts, we rob ourselves of experiencing our fullness. We also inadvertently give those parts way too much power. Those things that we keep in the shadow have the ability to haunt us. We spend our days tap dancing because we are scared of anyone seeing them. We expend so much time and energy keeping them hidden and at bay, making sure no one – including ourselves -- can see them.
Make friends with yourself
The problem here is if we won’t look at something, we can’t own it and we most certainly can’t change it. As humans it seems we are here to grow and expand. We have the capacity to learn from our mistakes, but in order to facilitate this we need to see things clearly.
We can’t do this if we won’t look at ourselves.
We can’t do this if we are incapacitated by shame.
We can’t do this if we spend all of our energy running away from the truth about ourselves.
If we could harness that energy, we could use it for something beautiful. We could use it to graciously accept all the parts of ourselves with kindness, compassion and love. We could use it to work on our “shortcomings” and expand who we are and our experience of ourselves in our lives.
What a relief to just say it like it is and just be ourselves. What a relief to own our shortcomings and our failures. What a relief to be shameless. Then all the energy that we’ve been using to defend, deflect and hide can be used to grow and expand. We can also make empowered choices about what we want and who we want to be in the world.
Wouldn’t that be liberating?!
I encourage you to welcome the darkness, and without malice bring it into the light. I invite you to give yourself permission to get to know yourself and make friends with what you see.
ARTWORK SARAH HEINAMANN