“Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets.”
The more I speak to people on the spiritual path, the more I become aware of the hidden shame that many of us carry.
We’re ashamed of our bodies, our thoughts, and the feeling that we’re odd, defective, or abnormal.
Shame is a form of secret suffering that we keep in the shadows of our being. It’s like a bruise that keeps getting re-opened over and over. Simply said, shame hurts.
Shame is a source of unhappiness that thrives on inattention. Ignore the shameful feelings, and they’ll poke at you forever.
But turn toward them with your loving and curious attention, and the pain of shame begins to soften.
You get to know the story of shame and the way it takes up residence in your body. And your heart begins to open with compassion to the sense of the one who feels so hurt.
And what opens to this hurting part of yourself? It is you being aware of shame, watching it like a movie on the screen.
This is so important to know: the you who is aware of shame is simply noticing, untouched by the shame itself.
This is how you find freedom from the shame. You discover the gap between the experience of shame and you as the observer of it. In the moments when you rest as this observing presence, the wave of shame subsides.
Now you’re relating to shame in a completely new way. Instead of being lost in it, you study it to see what it is—and realize that it doesn’t have to define you.
You become tender toward the shame, feeling its pain, while also knowing that something in you is strong, whole, and perfectly okay.
Can you find that sense of being okay? Maybe it will help to take an expansive, conscious breath. Even if that being okay is a tiny seed, it’s in there, I promise you.
Softening Into Our Humanity
The more we befriend our own perceived imperfections, the more tender we are toward others.
In our humanity, we know at some level that we’re all messy, awkward, and unsure. We all have vulnerabilities that show the richness and diversity of living the human life.
So in a sense, anything that we experience as shameful isn’t personal to us. In the silence of shame, you might convince yourself that you’re the only one who feels the way you do.
But dig one inch below the surface, and you’ll find that everyone is vulnerable in the same way. It’s the nature of the human condition.
This invites us to meet our own and others’ vulnerability with love, compassion, acceptance, and lightness—and not judgment. Judging doesn’t serve, but love and presence do.
Be the loving presence for whatever arises—whether in yourself or someone else.
Intimacy from No Longer Hiding in Shame
Then, with deep acceptance of your own experience, the fear of judgment starts to fall away.
- You show up with others open and vulnerable.
- You share what you’re experiencing because you no longer need to hide it.
- You break down walls and open the door to so much intimacy and deep understanding.
It’s a sacred path.
Ignoring shame will keep you lonely and disconnected. Meet it with curiosity and a tender and open heart, and you’ll wake up to yourself: peaceful, boundless, and one with all.