Many times, I have experienced shame around things that are, essentially, just one of the many aspects of being human.
I have also felt that shame dissolve significantly when simple conversations or exchanges reveal that everything one can experience, will have been experienced in some similar fashion by other people. You are not isolated in your human-ness, and by meeting it you are learning more about the human race – pleasant or not – and not just learning in isolation about the bizarreness of living in your own (unique and common) human body and mind.
By normalising and talking about (and/or reading/writing about) things you feel secretive/shameful over, you can gain perspective. You can feel more connected to other folks’ human experiences, by sharing yours and hearing theirs. You can realise that you’re just doing your version of what everyone else is doing – dealing with the difficulties, perks and quirks of being human.
Feeling shame about your experiences is often an extra burden on top of the experiences themselves. Sometimes shame or guilt can be useful information about our personal moral compass / moral training, but more often than not it is an unnecessary extra burden, that only makes life harder and less pleasant. We are all living in similar strange bodies that go wrong, are surprising, are both disgusting and beautiful, sometimes in impressive measure. We are a strange miracle, but we are pretty wondrous.
When your body goes wrong, it can feel unsettling to have to consider your body like some sort of IKEA project that’s made up of different parts tessellating or breaking or fitting or coming loose or getting stuck or falling over or weakening etc. It’s unnerving to look at the fragility and viscerality of one’s existence too closely. It can sometimes feel so very separate to (or different from) the essence of our spirit, so removed from our personalities and preferences, and our sense of life purpose. I think that sense of separateness between spirit and body can feel greater when our bodies go wrong. When we’re in good physical working order, it’s easier to vibrantly express our spirits through our bodies, and to do all the things that we want, yearn to and need to do.
I sometimes get angry/sad/deflated/shameful/etc. when illness and human physical survival functions take up too too much of my time and energy, and feel like they are wasting life’s short days, because that is “not what I’m here for!” (eg I don’t feel like I’m here on this earth simply to survive; I feel like I am here for many other wonderful and important things, and I get annoyed when my ability to further these things is so very, very compromised by my weak human body). But like it or not, we weird bags of blood and bones and goop have to focus lots of our energy on simply surviving – and a lot more so when our bodies go wrong, get ill, wear out. It’s a real kick to the ego, and a wearying anchor to the spirit, when our body’s functioning has to take up so much of our attention and energy that we don’t have any/much left for our spiritual lives, our sense of purpose, our work, and the things we want to do, need to do, and are expected to do.
Something that helps integrate physical reality and spiritual connection (or aliveness of the personality, call it what you like), is talking honestly with people we feel comfortable with, about exactly what’s going on. Being heard in your gritty ‘orrible human experiences, and met with empathy, sympathy and understanding, can help take away the shame and isolation of dealing with life’s physical setbacks, problems and limitations. Taking time to focus on others in addition, when you can muster some energy for communicating, taking time to hear them and their day to day stories, fosters depth of connection, and your sense of being able to contribute by making someone else feel heard and understood (even if just with a text or a phone call). It also takes your focus out of your own situation for a time, and exchanges such as these can help make all the stuff that is not okay, more okay / easier to be with.
I’m feeling very grateful right now for the kind people who’ve listened to me recently, and responded with humanness and warmth to my tough stuff, and who’ve also shown me / shared about themselves, and helped me feel present and meaningful even when my body’s in a bit of a shut down period.
Now then, what’s my point? Ah yes, not hiding our human-ness. Obviously, I’m not saying you should share your innermost secrets to people you don’t trust to be kind to you or who don’t want to hear how you really are, nor am I suggesting you should go mega TMI on social media (but you know, it’s your platform so if it’s not hate speech or harming anyone, share away!). But what I am saying is, if you are lucky enough to have some people or platforms who you trust to be kind, it can be very beneficial for everyone, when people share genuinely about their human experiences, and drop the masks of pretending to be superhuman superheroes. I’ll choose Human superheroes over superhuman ones, because understanding other humans and helping them feel okay and understood, is a superpower in itself.
So, yeah, you’re not alone in whatever you’re experiencing, and if you have people or a platform (eg facebook group, support group, a professional, a close friend, a family member etc) that you feel is relatively safe for you, I encourage you to share your human-ness a bit, or maybe a bit more.
Also, thanks to my wonderful friends and contacts and family recently who have helped me to not feel too gross/weak as a whole human just because my body is being gross/weak. Understanding, connecting, and being understood and accepted, is quite a potent magic for making hard stuff easier to negotiate. Thank you!
Love and respect to you humans, HR xo