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Shame has been a very corrosive force in my life. 

It is the agonising sense that no matter what I do, and especially because of what I fail to do, I will never be good enough.

It is based on a deep mistrust of my innermost intentions. It is rooted in the idea that I am selfish, greedy, uncaring, inadequate and unworthy of my seat at the table of life.

It used to revolve around my body. I was ashamed of how I looked and wanted to hide because I didn't want it confirmed that my self-loathing was warranted.

I still hoped that I wasn't as disgusting as I feared. I still wanted to believe I could be loved and desired. I craved approval, and an end to the pain of feeling like a reject and a loser. An excuse for a woman.

Six years ago I woke up to the truth that there was nothing inherently wrong with my body, and other people's condemnation (imagined and real) lost its power. 

For the most part, I no longer fear it. There are still occasions and places where the legacy of the conditioning rears its ugly head. But they are few and far between, and don't impinge upon my quality of life very much.

The lightness I feel at having put this burden down is wonderful. It has unleashed creativity which I didn't know existed. I started to write and even, in private, to sing. Unthinkable to me until only very recently! 

I delight in the simple things of daily life. And my default state is one of happiness, excitement and gratitude. I am continually touched by the beauty of life. 

I also have new energy and courage to share what I've learnt with other people who are still struggling with insecurities about their appearance.

It seems that letting go of shame can have very wonderful consequences! It is a blossoming and a blessing. Like the carefree joy of a child who has the power to lift the mood of a home and renew your enthusiasm for life.

However, shame is not done with me! Not by a long way!

It now tells me that my work to help others with their body image struggles is not good enough. I should be helping more people. And I should be helping them achieve more dramatic results more quickly. And I should be helping people in other places in other ways.

And, wait for it... while there is any suffering in the world, I should not rest. Because not to get involved in trying to end all suffering everywhere means that I am lazy, selfish, indifferent, uncaring and despicable.

I have no idea where all this shame came from. My parents seemed far less judgemental. They were critical of people who were doing bad things in the world. But they didn't focus unduly on fault-finding. They noticed when people took steps to effect positive change. They looked for them and celebrated kindness when they witnessed it.

But it came from somewhere. I certainly wasn't born with it. I learnt it. I know because I remember a time when I was little when I didn't have an eating disorder and I danced with wild abandon. Before it had occurred to me that I might be irredeemably flawed.

At some point, it seems I decided shame would protect me. If I hid away and wallowed in shame, I thought I would avoid being vilified by other people. I didn't understand that the suffering wasn't coming from other people's judgement of me. It came from the fact that I bought into their judgement. Their judgement just brought my own pre-existing judgement into my conscious awareness. It brought it forward, so I could feel it more strongly.

No wonder I turned to food to numb it. To try to escape it.

There is huge pressure in our culture to use shame as a motivator for better behaviour. "You should be ashamed of yourself!" seems to be drummed into so many of us. And we take it to heart, believing that it will help us become better people.

But my personal experience so far is that it does the opposite. It keeps us frozen in unhealthy patterns that fragment our society. So terrified are we of being found out for the repugnant, evil, incompetent, inadequate villains that we truly are that we stop trying to make a difference in the world. We conclude we have no contribution to make. That what we have to say is unimportant. And others are better qualified to run things than we are. So we stay silent. We hold back. We retreat into our little comfort zones that turn out to be stultifying. And we hide our light under a bushel.

This is where I am now. Bogged down in shame. But something is definitely shifting. And I'm beginning to question whether it is really serving me or anyone else. Yes, it's excruciating. And the voices that tell me that I should be ashamed of myself and distrust my intentions and intuition still sound very persuasive. But I'm feeling the shame more fully. And feeling is healing. And from that I draw hope... 

If you would like to explore whether living with less shame about your body might be helpful and possible for you, consider coming along to my FREE webinar, From Judgement to Joy: Insights To Help You Heal Body Shame, Insecurities and Obsession on Saturday 16 March 2024. 

You can find all the details here: https://www.mariamorgan.info/from-judgement-to-joy-free-webinar-16-march

And ➡️CLICK HERE TO REGISTER⬅️ to get the Zoom link. 

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