What do you feel when you hear the word shame? How about guilt? Shame is usually a toxic emotion that keeps us frozen in time. Guilt on the other hand, can be instructive, and can spur us on to be our best selves. Your mindfulness practice can help you develop 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 your 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. Grab your “letting go” journal and a writing start.
2. Ask yourself, how would I act in my daily life if I believed I was a good person, if I accepted my “mistakes” as important learning experiences.
3. How would that be different from the way I live now?
This exercise can bring up some strong emotions for the harsh way we have been treated and the harsh way we treat ourselves, but letting go of shame is an essential component of making more room for our highest aspirations. Don’t forget to end the exercise with the same deep breathing we started with. This exercise is even better when paired with some self-compassion.
Need to consult with us? We are here to help you on your letting go journey.
We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!