I have pondered for a long time what is it in these moments in the photos above that touches me so deeply. Is it the enduring spirit of human connection to heal? The tender touch, the soft gaze of love or joy? What the heck is it?
If you haven’t seen them already, the moves are Moonlight, Rocketman, Intouchables and Lion.
I NEVER watch moves twice, but for some strange reason I have been compelled to play these ones time and time again.
And I shed tears every single time!
It is something beyond words, that I can’t describe. For me, they are an example of Yugen: the Japanese word meaning “a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe … and the sad beauty of human suffering”.
I know I’m on to something big, something meaningful when I sense there is something there I cannot understand that affects me profoundly (ask my husband about my ‘dog-with-a-bone’ approach to understanding humans).
I have finally realized it is this: the power of human connection to heal shame in the eyes of another that say “I see you. I hear you. I love you.”
“…simply because you are human. An imperfect, beautiful, divine gift to this earth. You are worthy and you always have been.”
They are stories of healing through deep empathy and love through connection with another human being. A connection that tells us “I am lovable.” This is the knowing that underneath our so-called faults and flaws, that we are all connected. We are all the same at the very root. We experience the same emotions and also hide and pretend to be strong when we don’t always feel it.
All of the main characters have experienced the deep pain of rejection, humility, aloneness, fear and shame. Of being vulnerable.
Everyone experiences shame. But when it becomes secret and hidden, it becomes toxic. Shame is one of the most deeply painful and debilitating emotions. It is difficult to access and doubly difficult to talk about. At the core, it is the worst fear of a child or adult that somehow “I am unlovable.” And it is a complete lie.
It can show up as anger, rage, perfectionism, procrastination, people-pleasing, over-doing then burnout, constant anxiety, fear of success…
Shame says “You are bad. You are not enough and definitely not worthy”. It is very isolating and, although many suffer from it’s far-reaching tentacles, it is not something that is easily admitted.
It stems from larger trauma such as abuse or neglect, or smaller incidents or interactions.
As a child, it is confusing to understand adults, and because a child’s brain is still ego-centric, meaning they can only focus on their own experience and cannot perceive of other factors influencing behaviour other than “There is something wrong with me”.
Not “Mom is stressed” or..
“Dad is an alcoholic narcissist” or..
“My parents love me but they don’t know how to show it” or…
“My parent left because they were too young, too scared, too..”
“That bully is insecure” or…
You get the picture. Children cannot think this advanced.
Shame lies at the root of addictions and trauma. It is often the reason people don’t reach their goals and suffer with fear of rejection, fear of abandonment and not being liked.
The shame of being excluded is physically painful.
It can also lie at the very root of chronic pain conditions.
Until Brene Brown’s research exploded onto the scene, shame was hidden in the shadows, where it thrived happy and well and destructive.
Shame cannot survive being exposed and being spoken and counteracted with love and empathy. Healing says “I see you. I hear you. I love you, not despite your experiences, but also because of them.“
Transformation comes from owning it, speaking it, not to the world (or perhaps) but in a trusting, loving and safe relationship. We cannot always understand what happened to us or why, but we can come to see the facts, and heal the debilitating belief that “there is something inherently wrong with me.”
Not only are we healing on an individual level, but right now the world is undergoing a wave of transformation where repressed trauma and shame are coming out, into the light to be seen and healed on a global level.
It is the painful, beautiful suffering of being alive that is being released.
As we do this, we can also start to see how our scarcity economy feeds off of our shame and spins us a wheel of perfectionistic ideals:
You are not thin enough.
You are not fit enough.
You are not smart enough.
You are not doing enough (a particularly toxic one).
Buy more. Work out more. Eat less. Look better. Make more money. Eat good food, but not too much. Have more friends, but don’t compare yourself. Get more likes, but beware of social media. Don’t stress, but make time to exercise, meditate, shop at the market, achieve more, work harder…
Aggh. Dear friends, you can see how this fuels anxiety, loneliness and the shame of never being enough. Our economy has depended on it.
We make mistakes. We screw up. Sometimes in a big way. We don’t always get it right.
We are not here to get it right.
We are here to be who we are.
The antidote to shame is this:
1. Talk about it. Find someone you trust that you can be vulnerable with. A friend, a therapist. No, not on Facebook.
2. Bring in a good dose of self-compassion. Self-empathy. This is bucking all the mainstream trends to go it alone and push through pain. Check out Dr. Kristin Neff to get started.
3. Rest with yourself. Listen to your heart. Not what your head tells you you should do. Drown out the outside noise with your own knowing.
“Nothing in the Universe ever grew from the outside in.”
Richard Wagamese, Embers
Know that you are not alone.
And you are enough. Just the way you are.
In this moment, in this breath.
You are so enough.
Question anything or anyone that tells you otherwise.
You were born enough.
If this resonates with you, feel free to break out of the trance of shame right now and shoot me a reply to say “Yup. I’m breaking free.”
Imagine a world where shame didn’t exist everyone knew they were already enough… oh the fun we would have!
Lots of compassion to all us imperfect humans out there,