In my estimation, shame sucks. It serves no purpose. It is a toxic emotion. Guilt on the other hand, can be instructive, can spur us on to be our best selves. Mindfulness, my friends, is all about being your best, loving, calm, abiding self. So first, some definitions:
Guilt says: “I’ve made a mistake. I own it. How can I make it right, do better next time, restore anything I’ve damaged, make amends to anyone I’ve hurt?”
Shame says: “I am a mistake. I was born this way. I am flawed to the core. I’ll never be able to make it right. I am damaged and undeserving of anything good. Because of this, what is the use of aspiring toward anything, of helping myself, and others?”
See the difference? Many of us have been conditioned, in sometimes abusive ways, to feel shame. It can take years of daily work to silence the voice of shame. But mindfulness practice can help.
Today’s letting go exercise: As always, start with a few deep breaths. If you need a review of the best way to breathe to calm your nervous system, check out this video on breathing basics.
1. You might want to get a pencil and a piece of paper for this one. Ask yourself, how would I act in my daily life if I believed I was a good person? How would that be different than the way I live now?
That’s it. This exercise can be heavy, and can bring up some tears for the harsh way we have been treated, and the harsh way we treat ourselves. so don’t forget to end the exercise with the same deep breathing. This exercise is excellent paired with some self-compassion.
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We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!