Having a healthy ego (a healthy sense of Self) is to fully acknowledge or “own” both our positive attributes and our weaknesses or faults.
If we don’t have this balanced sense of ego—where we have nothing to prove and nothing to hide—it’s easy to get caught in the Shame-Blame Game. If someone is criticizing us or if an experience arises that reveals one of our weaknesses, we can easily start to spin in the tidal pool of shame: being embarrassed, critical of ourselves, or ashamed of this aspect of Self.
If someone else happens to blame us or shame us, we may take it personally and jump in on the game, beginning to drop into a painful cycle of flogging ourselves and beating ourselves up. This only serves to lower our self-esteem and to clog and tie up valuable psychological, creative, and physical energy.
When we transparently acknowledge, admit, and accept the parts of ourselves that may be embarrassing or unattractive, then shame has no power!
We shed light on our Shadow, and it dissolves. No longer is the Shadow split off or pushed away. It is integrated. This frees up trapped energy (prana), softens us into humility, and helps focus our attention on how to make positive changes and improvements in our selves and our lives.
Notice where you are blaming or criticizing someone else (look to your family or romantic relationships for the most glaring clues) and ask yourself where that quality lives in you (more on this liberating exercise in the coming weeks).
This week, practice loving and unconditionally accepting all the weaknesses and faults that you have. Practice being humble (same root word as “human”); allow yourself to be human and have less than desirable traits. We all do! Practice accepting and loving these vulnerable places and turn this energy into fuel to initiate positive change in your life.
Please share with us what traits or characteristics you are most ashamed of. What do you prefer to hide or hesitate acknowledging? Out yourself!
Shadow: I am late (almost always…highly embarrassing). I can be manipulative. I am competitive. I am critical (mostly of myself). I am a perfectionist. I overcommit and often cannot complete all the things I attempt to do in the time requested. I tend to put others before myself, at the detriment of my own nutrition and working out.
Light: I am also loving. I am kind. I am passionate about helping others. I am resourceful and creative. I am intelligent and soulful. I am deep, thoughtful, and highly committed to my work, family, friends, clients, and students. I am strong, very forgiving, understanding, and intuitive.
P.S. It helps to do this admission stuff publicly…VERY LIBERATING!
Here’s to NO MORE SHAME! Share your shadow and your light in the comments below!
Elevating personal growth as a lifestyle, Ashley Turner, M.A., brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern-day psychotherapist with a soulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit. Ashley is the co-author of Aroma Yoga®: Using Essential Oils in Yoga + Life and creator of four best-selling yoga DVDs. She leads monthly, weekend retreats at Montage in Laguna Beach, CA, as well as retreats and workshops around the globe. For more on her and her events, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.