The Enlightening Mat: Befriending Shame

This is Brene Brown's followup video on vulnerability and it covers something even deeper -- shame. If you haven't seen her TED talk on vulnerability you'll want to watch it first here.

Shame is something we all feel but rarely have honest conversations about it. Perhaps written in journals, during therapy, among strangers in support groups, or with your closest loved ones you have touched these uncomfortable feelings, but not many people take the opportunity to embrace and make friends with shame, embarrassment, or guilt.

One of the most applauded moments in this TED talk is when Brene Brown says, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change." In order to create something new, you have to first reach down and grab a handful of vulnerability. In this thinking, the art classroom of your youth wasn't so much about becoming great at making things, rather it was a place to hone creativity, your most powerful asset, and to face your fear of vulnerability -- one of the greatest stumbling blocks to being truly successful.

If vulnerability is the room where you find your strength and courage, shame is the monster lurking behind the door, taunting you to stay silent, to hide truths, to create without making mistakes, to hold back ideas, to procrastinate, and to sabotage your creativity. Shame is the enemy you need to befriend in order to actually move forward or you will always be stuck in a game of wanting to create things in your life but not making it happen.

Sometimes it's hard to admit how utterly scared I feel when I create something new, for I am attracting potential criticism, feelings of shame, and a belief that I may lose love. I'm not sure this experience will ever completely vanish from my life, but through practicing Bikram yoga and working the 10-steps in my book Lemonade Mantras, I am making shame my pal.

What's the process for making shame your creative collaborator? What could it look like? For me, in Bikram yoga, when I try something new, fall out of a posture, and risk humiliation in front of a classroom of people, this is shaking hands with shame, saying hello, and making it my coach. When I react to an emotionally charged event by saying or doing something embarrassing, I work through my self-judgments by using the Lemonade Mantras process to take responsibility for my actions, cultivate self-acceptance, grieve my unmet need, and look for new possibilities. This process of self-confrontation is an example of using shame as a teacher of wisdom.

Shame and you already have a relationship. However, you have the power to choose what that relationship looks like by actively cultivating a friendship with shame. You could build this relationship by trying something new, putting your creativity out there, speaking truths, examining your actions, or stretching your mental and physical abilities. In doing so, perhaps you will be given the opportunity to connect with shame and give it a big hug instead of ignoring its plea for love and acceptance.

The Enlightening Mat is a blog series exploring moments of awareness that come to Beth Hemmila while practicing Bikram Yoga.

To shop for yoga charms that celebrate the different poses click here to view this blog post Sterling Silver Charms for Bikram Yoga Postures

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