I made a new friend recently whom I liked very much. She made a judgement about my views based on a lot of misinformation about something I’m part of, and didn’t want to talk to me anymore. As a result, I was very bitter. I hang out with people who are different than me quite a bit, yet I hadn’t experienced this before.
I tried to get over it. I prayed. I prayed for her. I talked to friends. Still, it was there. When one looses something one cares about based on injustice, one has a right to be angry. But this felt darker.
After a CL meeting, I was sitting at a table with friends and I told one of them about the accusation of holding certain views. She had a look of surprise on her face. “But you don’t live your life that way,” she said. I shared that I was angry and my friend said, “Of course you are. If she thinks that she doesn’t know you.” And she shared that if someone did that she’d be angry too. My friend also didn’t think it was unreasonable that I blocked that person. I was hurt and protective.
Right away, I felt peaceful and was able to forgive. Why? Had my new friend apologized? Had I gotten through with logic? Had anything externally changed? No. The only thing that changed was that my feelings had been validated with sound reason.
Though I knew the accusation wasn’t true, part of me believed it. Though I knew I was protecting myself, I felt like blocking someone wasn’t being a good person. When my friend said those things, that shame was released.
I have never seen a certain principle illustrated so clearly as this, and it got me thinking. How much pain is because of shame? Guilt is, of course, feeling bad for doing something wrong, and it leads us to change. But shame says, “There is something wrong with me.” When I can’t find anyone to go to the movies with, it hurts, but it isn’t just because I’m lonely. It is because there is a little voice, whether audible or not, saying, “No one likes you all that much. You don’t have friends.” If I let that go, the experience lightens tremendously. When we read internet memes insulting a group we happen to belong to, we might take it personally. But the meme doesn’t know us. It was written by someone who categorizes people, and we can begin to let go of what that stranger thinks. One of the reasons so many people have drama around those who are hurting in various ways is because they feel expected to fix it and worthless when they can’t. There is shame there. What happens when we let go of being expected to do any particular thing and just be with that person? Things become easier and we can enjoy the other for who they are too.
What shame thoughts are attached to your experiences? If you can realize it and release them, with help if need be, how much more wonderful might life be? Perhaps the external world can lose some of it’s negative power over you and more freedom can enter in.
May God bless your Day.