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Escaping Our Shame

Many of us carry shame. Shame that represents our mistakes, family secrets, or identity. Sometimes we know exactly what we need to do to move forward in life and other times life feels like a constant struggle to keep our shame managed.

How do we come to a place that we can escape our shame? How can we feel at peace with who we are, what we’ve done, or the identity we carry? How is kindness a part of the healing and repair?

Kindness echoes its theme through several parts of the healing process. Kindness happens in the relationships that offer us grace and in the self-compassion that we eventually learn to practice.

Relationships and Friendships

In relationships and friendships, kindness is the means by which we are offered a foundation of safety and acceptance. Kindness invites vulnerability and depth. Kindness invites us to be playful, funny, and open. With this foundation of kindness we even learn to feel comfortable making mistakes or asking for help. The actions that describe kindness begin with hellos, eye contact, smiles, and remembrance; and it progresses further to invitations and pursuit, play dates, coffee, happy hour, practical help, sharing meals, and genuine interest in knowing the nitty gritty details of another person’s life.

In relationships with this foundation of kindness we have opportunity to share our mistakes, insecurities, lack of knowledge and shame with another person. Kindness receives these vulnerable conversations and gives back grace, wisdom, peace, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, and acceptance. Our shame, fears, and insecurities lose their power and influence on our life.

When relationships both share their experiences, then we learn that there is actually a commonality in our struggles and pain. We don’t feel as hopeless or alone.

We need to find relationships in which we are both the giver and receiver of these moments of grace and kindness.

Kindness is experienced in our friendships and it also models how we can practice self-compassion.

Self-compassion is difficult. We are our harshest critic. We judge ourselves unrelentingly and hold ourselves to a higher standard than we would hold our dearest friend. Frequently our shames and mistakes hold a secret part in our mind in which we don’t allow us to forgive ourselves and therefore the thoughts keep cycling. We want to take responsibility for our actions and we know that we could have done and should be doing better. Self-compassion seems like we’re taking the easy way out or excusing our behaviors.

And yet it is actually the model of how to move forward in spite of our mistakes and failures, to learn what we can, apologize or mend where needed, and believe that our value is greater than our mistake. We are more than the mistakes and shame that plague us. Our mistakes are a part of our story but they are not who we are.

Kindness echoes its theme through several parts of the healing process that allow us to escape our shame. We all play a beautiful part in the story of rescuing each other from our shame.