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Shame and the Power of Self Observation

If you would observe yourself non-judgementally for a day, you would be amazed! Your perception of yourself and of others would automatically be changed for the better. If such positive change can be achieved so simply, why don’t more people do it? Actually self-observation is not easy to do. This is because of the shame that most of us feel when we attempt to “see” ourselves. Shame is a part of human nature. Most of us carry some shame and judgement toward ourselves. Unfortunately shame and judgement are blinders to the truth.

Sometimes feelings of shame are not even experienced consciously. All of us are from time to time embarrassed by our flaws. One of the most effective ways of dealing with shame is to deny it. Do you do this? Do you sense that you tend to hide feelings of shame from yourself? Or are you aware of having those feelings? Either way, you can make some powerful changes by recognizing the existence of shame within yourself.

Because shame denial is often so automatic and instantaneous, it is sometimes difficult to recognize. If you do not feel shame it may be that you are not consciously aware of your shame. In one sense it is fortunate that you have this defense mechanism. It has kept your ego “safe” and intact for years, allowing you to develop in many ways. This defense mechanism is especially needed in childhood. It allows you to be able to learn and achieve the thousands of things you need to achieve in order to reach adulthood as an autonomous individual. If you were continuously reminded of each flaw, your shame at not being perfect could stop your development. You would have such low self-esteem that you would lose much control of your life. But, paradoxically, as your self-esteem and skills have developed, so has the usefulness of hiding of your mistakes from yourself. What helped you in childhood can now hurt you as an adult. By observing and acknowledging your mistakes without any negative judgement, you can set yourself free.

Your mistakes do not make you a mistake. Observing and learning from your mistakes opens the door for you to be more alive, more effective, more successful, and more productive. Decide to see yourself honestly. Be willing to see the source of shame. In your willingness to see and feel shame, you automatically begin to transcend the shame. You then allow yourself to observe and consequently change yourself.

Shame is a part of being human. It is a natural response to criticism and conflict. Conflict is inherent in life. You live in conflict from birth to death. It is conflict that makes you aware of yourself. Conflict causes you to look at yourself and notice that you are not perfect. The essence of your soul — your deepest self — is perfect. You instinctively feel shame because you are not the living expression of your true self. Your true self is perfection. Deep down you know this. It is because of this that sometimes people are embarrassed at being human.

Human life is the pathway to realizing perfection. Your experience as a human being is your opportunity to grow toward becoming what you truly are — perfect. As you grow and mature on this pathway, you may more deeply realize this and become more willing to admit your imperfections to yourself. Seeing your imperfections frees you to change yourself. By admitting to feeling shame you transcend the shame. By admitting your faults, you transcend your faults. You see your shame as natural and no longer avoid its feeling. You are not ashamed of your shame. The shame is vanquished by your realization that your flaws are natural. You see your faults and weaknesses as a natural and necessary part of your learning. Do not be ashamed of your faults and weaknesses. Realize that this human condition can be a glorious adventure. Welcome the experiences that cause you to observe and admit to your shortcomings. Become grateful for every opportunity to see yourself.

As you come to truly understand this, so does your willingness to let down your defenses. As you evolve, you become more willing to know the cause of your shame. The more you admit to and feel your shame, the less you feel shame and become able to see yourself non-judgementally.

When you are ready to look more closely, consider the power of self-observation. Make a date to observe yourself for a day. Watch yourself from a distance. Imagine that you are making a non-judgemental scientific observation of the nature of things. As it happens the “things” you are observing are your own feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and reactions. As you walk through your day, keep a watchful eye on how you respond to everything that happens, especially your response to people, stress, conflict, and change. Observe how you respond to positive conditions. Take mental notes. “I see that my response to this condition is this.” Make no judgement or analysis as to why you have such a response. Just observe. Don’t make yourself wrong. “I see that I feel this feeling.” “I see that I want to say this or do that when I see, feel, hear, or experience this.” Do scientific, non-judgemental observation. Say, “How interesting that I should react this way. I know there must be a reason for this reaction. I will consider this later. For now I will simply observe.” As you observe, allow your mind to become aware of the consequences of your responses. How does it make you feel inside to respond in this way? What does this thought, feeling, or action cause you to experience? Does it feel good or bad? How do others respond? What do they do, say, or express? If you do not like what you observe, look for new ways of thinking, feeling, and responding.

Your willingness to observe and admit to what you really feel, think, and do is so powerful, that automatically you will begin to find ways to change things for the better. You will begin to tell yourself the truth. Find no shame in the truth. Begin to tell others what you are learning. Find kind and loving ways to change yourself and help others to see and appreciate you.

When you have learned to master yourself in the art of non-judgemental self-observation, you become a person whose presence is safe to experience. Your shame is no longer projected out in critical thoughts, feelings, or words to others. You no longer need to defend from feeling shame and so can more easily allow others to be weak and imperfect. Such love opens the door for everyone to grow. It attracts those who want to know the truth and plants a seed for those who are not ready. Your world may narrow in some ways and expand in others. You will become the peaceful warrior. Your battleground is your own personal experience. Your victory is over the enemy of shame. Your reward is freedom.


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