SHAME. Here’s how to let it go

I never thought I’d say this, but I recently had a breakthrough during meditation: I realized that much of my unnecessary stress stems from simply adding a shameful tone to my thoughts.  Have you ever experienced this?

It happens when I set goals for myself and don’t reach them, no matter how small or insignificant. Like if I said I would do homework and ended up 2 hours into a Netflix streak or when I said I wouldn’t that day (whether it was most of the bar or even just a couple squares of dark chocolate!).  Usually what follows the realization of failing to meet this goal is an automatic response of self-inflicted shame.  And it wasn’t until I was mediating early this week that I realized shame was even present at all.  How hurtful and unnecessary this tone was to show up so uninvited!

But this shame is self-inflicted.  Buddhist teachings call this the “second arrow”, or the pang we hit ourselves with after an actual event. (The first arrow being the event of not reaching a goal, the second being the shamefulness targeted at the self.) The way to turn off the shame is by bringing it to the light!

Imagine it: when you start sinking into a darker place in your mind (literally!), the shame can sneak around easily without you being able to see what it truly looks like or where it is. You may have that uneasy feeling of its presence and you start to doubt yourself or freak out.  But BAM! Once you turn on the light, you see exactly what that shame looks like, why it’s here, and how it is trying to get to you. It looks so silly and insignificant when you can see it clearly.

Personally, my shame comes trying to steal that self confidence and self appreciation that is locked away. It wants me to feel bad for going to bed 30 minutes later than I had planned for. (Because THEN it will have shown me!) But really, how silly does that sound? Would you tell your best friend that she should be ashamed of herself for shutting her eyes a number of blinks later than she had aimed for? Of course not! That’d be silly. You love your friend and admire that she set a goal and went after it, no matter the outcome.

IMG_6287You would appreciate and applaud your friend for making strides toward her goals and listening to herself, no matter how far she got.  And this is how you should treat yourself too.

Since I started identifying my shameful thoughts and putting a spotlight on their true shape, they have stopped showing up as often.  So Now I want to turn it back to you.

How to Combat Shame
1.  Give yourself a minute or two to just sit and think of times you have felt shameful or uneasy about something. And let yourself sit with it.  This is where the personal growth can happen.

2.  Put a name to the shame. Identify where and when the shameful feeling comes up. Why might the shame be there? Where do you experience it in your body? Once you can spot times it might show up and why you don’t need to believe it, you can dismiss it more easily when it wants to visit again.

3.  Recognize that you don’t have to listen to that shame or second arrow, because it isn’t you and it isn’t true.

4.  Appreciate yourself.  Appreciate that you want the best for yourself and thank yourself for everything that you do anyway, no matter how small.

Bonus! Physically feel the freedom that comes with letting go of that voice’s hold on you.  How does it physically manifest itself? Maybe energy runs from your feet to your core or your shoulders are able to relax more and drop that tension you might not have noticed before. If you still have trouble letting go of shame’s grasp, still imagine how you would feel without it.  Next time you see shame trying to creep up, try to remember this physical response of letting it go.

Remember, you are always worthy of love.

Things to Love about Gaining Weight

I have gained weight since tearing my ACL.  It may not be that noticeable, but it has happened.   I haven’t been able to work out, which is tough because, as I have shared before, exercising is a great source of joy in my life (like yoga!) and because I love to eat.  Now, already over a month into my new sedentary lifestyle, I have already noticed a smaller, slower appetite.  But this doesn’t mean that eating habits don’t die hard… And even though I have been eating less, I have still noticed myself gaining weight.

My initial reaction is an overflow of self-doubt, shame, worries of social standards, and any other negative thought.  How terrible is that? Not only am I in physical pain from my surgery, but I am experiencing completely unnecessary emotional stress as well.  How terrible is it that I feel bad about my body when it is working overtime to give me back my normal life, but I have the automatic fear of NOT looking “perfect” (as if it were attainable for anybody anyway).

So I have decided not to let it bring my happiness down.  Why should occupying a few more inches in the world have an effect on how I feel about myself and the joy I experience in life? The people in my love me for being myself.  And right now, carrying an extra layer of skin around is still part of me, and they still love me.  In fact, I feel more loved now than ever.  And guess what? This has no correlation to my weight or perception of my weight.

Life is about moving through change. We all go through different cycles and stages at different points in our life.  There is an ebb and flow. And this change is okay.  It is inevitable! You might be at a point in your life where you cannot do the things you might want to (like lay on the beach in the warm weather because it is, at least in Virginia, snowing and below freezing.) In my case, the thing I cannot do is exercise, work out, be active at all, and even getting myself in and out of the car without assistance (thank you mom!!).  But this too shall pass, and there will be a time in my near future where I will be able to be active and live the lifestyle I want.  (Aka go to a yoga class, go for a run, lift weights, or even bike on a stationary bike without pain.)

If this is one of those times where you need to love where you are right now, no matter what point on your journey it may be, here is a list of great things that come with gaining weight.


Things To Gain With Weight

  1. Bigger Boobs.  As a member of the “itty-bitty-titty-committee”, I am not going to lie about this one.  It’s nice to have more of my girls present and accounted for.  Why not enjoy it?
  2. Time to appreciate qualities in yourself other than your weight….and whatever else might come with it.  Used to having abs you can see through a shirt? Me neither.  But I am used to how my normal stomach looks and feels, and this is not it.  Instead of taking time out of our day to stress and worry about it, let’s take the opportunity to think about things you might not notice if you just stopped the thought process at your appearance. While staying ” a great quality about me is my 6 pack” is always nice  (again, nothing I have been able to claim), try reaching deeper for something like: “I love how patient I am” or even “I love that I am able to take care of my cat”.
  3. At least for me, gaining weight means looking like this goddess.
    Ashley Graham is one of my heroes.  She is makes amazing strides for body acceptance, and truly redefining what the “accepted standard of beauty” is.  If gaining weight means looking more like Ashley, I look forward to it.

    For those of you who don’t know Ashley Graham, she is   g o r g e o u s  and  s e x y  and  c o n f i d e n t
  4. Focusing on confidence.  It doesn’t matter what you look like.  It matters how you present yourself to the outside world.  If you are confident in yourself, other people will feel that.  Trust me, I know this is harder than it looks.  It is hard to deal with change, even just to accept it.  So embracing the change enough to embody confidence? That is tough.  But it is this step out of our comfort zones that allows us to grow.
  5. Practice in accepting what is.  That feeling of accepting yourself in a new and different state that you aren’t used to is just great practice to sit with yourself and get comfortable being uncomfortable.  What are you able to offer yourself now? Are there new things you can do now that you couldn’t do before?
  6. Re-framing your definition of yourself.  You aren’t living the ins and outs of your normal life, which means stepping out of that story you tell yourself everyday.  The story about how you are, who you are, the way you “should” be, or what you “should” be/look like.  As our bodies change, it forces us to jump out of that definition we have of ourselves.  This is a chance to open your story to anything you want it to be.  What about your story can you let go? What is a new lens can you view your entire person through?
  7. Take up space in your life.  I think that the desire to be tiny and take up less space, physically, in the world is linked to feeling a lack of permission to be here.  And that does necessarily mean not mean here on this earth, but rather not granting yourself permission to be yourself, to really claim your aspirations, or even speak your mind.  What mental space is free for you to take up as your body claims more physical space for you?
  8. More of you to love and more love to go around.
  9. Embodying more feminine energy.  Gaining weight means more curves, right? When have curves not been a great womanly quality? How can gaining weight help you move into your expression of your feminine side?

Just remember life is more than fittin’ in your jeans.

-Ed Sheeran

Have a soft heart with yourself.  It is tough to love your body sometimes, but just remember there is really no right way to be.  The only right thing to do is be the most authentic expression of you.


Love, As always,

What to do when Life knocks you down

Two weeks ago, I walked (on crutches) down the sidewalk crying over the phone to my mom. Why? Because I felt beat down by life and I couldn’t do anything other than run home (or in my case, *crutch* home) to my mom, crying. If you’ve experienced this low before, you know what I am talking about.

About a month ago, I tore my ACL. And despite knowing how disappointing and difficult it is, not to mention how painful, to have an injury, I still have found myself facing more moments in the past month than in the past year or two where I feel like I just don’t have the energy to pick myself back up again. I’ve been feeling a lot of moments where all I want to do is to cry to my mom or and just have my friends take care of me and not have to think about my situation. I was having trouble adjusting to life not being physically able to do the things I enjoy the most: walking or biking to class, playing volleyball, doing yoga, cooking, even holding the door for somebody else. That on top of the fear of wondering how serious this injury was and how long it would be before I will be “back to normal”.

Without having to say, it seems unreasonable to think that we would go through life without having these moments. In fact, that sort of is what life is: a compilation of highs and lows and the moments in between. So why is it that it is still so hard to pick yourself up when you are feeling down? And why is it that we don’t talk about it more?

First of all, it is OKAY to feel this way! Simply recognizing that it is okay not to be happy 100% of the time is half the struggle. You were born with a spectrum of emotions to feel, so why live life without at least being able to feel all of them. As cliche as it might sound, without the lows, the highs wouldn’t be quite as tall. *So give yourself permission to feel your emotions.*

“What you resist, persists”- C. G. Jung

Sit with your emotions. I found this quote through Marie Forleo, and it is one of my favorites.  By giving into the unpleasant, uncomfortable, or unfamiliar emotion, we allow ourselves to get over it faster.  If we avoided them, we might cause more harm than the original feeling on its own.  When we sit with the emotion, it is like tearing off a band aid.  It hurts a lot for a little bit, but afterward, you can focus on making it better. 

Ask yourself what you can learn from this experience. Ultimately, our emotions are here to help guide us through life.  It is easy to see that we tend to do the things that make us happy more than than those that don’t.  At the same time, we tend to avoid the situations, people, or things that bring us down.  The uncomfortable and unfamiliar emotions are just the same, it just takes a but more guts and perseverance to sit with them and question them.  So what can we learn from this experience? In my case, it made me realize that I have been ignoring my intuition.  And my body finally said “LISTEN TO ME!” too loud and clear for me to look away.  I learned that I need to slow down, and by being a bit more physically disabled for the time, I am forced to make decisions on what and who are absolutely necessary for me to make an effort for.  I realize that by running around being so busy, I have been neglecting people in my life who mean the most.  Almost like forgetting to water the flowers in the living room because all I see are the ones by the door on my way to the next meeting/class/event I have to go to.

When you are ready, ask yourself what will bring you back up. Who and what brings you joy? Who is somebody you can go to who makes you feel safe and excited for life?   I, personally, had to sit there and brainstorm things that bring me joy that don’t take that much movement.   I asked for support from people around me. I learned that I have a community around me who cares for me, but who I may not reach out to as often as I want to.  I remembered how much I like to sing, and how I haven’t been doing much of that lately.  Will you reach out to an old friend? Will you make an effort to do something nice for yourself? Will you accept help from those people who always offer, but you never take them up on it? Whatever it is, when you identify it, you are able to reach out and get a helping hand.

Before you know it, you will look up and realize that you haven’t felt that uncomfortable emotion in a long time, and you didn’t even notice it had left.  Life will knock you down sometimes, and that is okay! The key is to let it guide you so you can get back to feeling the way you want to feel and living the life you want to live.

Buona Notte Bella,