We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.
George Bernard Shaw, Man and and Superman
It seems like so many of the people we talk with carry an incredible weight of guilt and shame with them. Guilt and shame seems to be a constant part of the human condition, this weight of feeling like we aren’t good enough, worthy enough, or haven’t done enough–this weight of feeling like we could always be better or do more drives us in very profound ways. We hear from so many people who are constantly questioning their worth and their goodness and feeling as if they can never live up to anyone’s expectations—including their own.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Where does this come from?
Why do we question our parenting abilities, our job performance, our bank accounts, our skills or perceived lack thereof in just about every aspect of our lives?
Much of the guilt and shame we live with certainly come from external factors such as the media which seem to predominantly highlight the negative as well as a misinterpretation of religion and religious beliefs. However, most of it comes from within and our own stories or past experiences; the voice inside our heads telling us that we are bad, selfish, lazy, unorganized, unprofessional, uncaring, come from a lack of love and grace for ourselves as well as an inability to accept our humanness—that we are imperfect, contradictory, inconsistent, and sometimes unpredictable. In addition, we are all scared. We all live in so much fear; fear that we are not worthy of being loved. And therefore we all put on masks and facades and behind those masks and facades there is the fear that we will be exposed for who we really are. We are ashamed to show our feelings, ashamed to show our vulnerabilities, ashamed to be human.
But what would it look like for all of us to be freed from this weight of guilt and shame? What would it look like if all of us to live and be and interact as if we were worthy, as if we are acceptable, as if we are loved?
We believe that one of the marks of someone who is freed from the chains of guilt and shame is someone who is able to accept that not everything is perfect, and not everything is exactly as we expect it to be; it is someone who is able to see goodness in spite of the imperfections, it is someone who is able to see beyond the limitations and celebrate what is rather than what should be or could be; it is a person who is satisfied, a person who is comfortable in who they are, a person who finds joy and peace in their lives despite receiving the message that enough is never enough.
Today we want to remind you, as we are reminding ourselves, that our lives are valuable just because we are. We don’t have to do anything to make them valuable; we are of sacred worth simply because we are. We don’t have to do anything to earn that message; we simply need to receive it.
Take a minute right now and tell yourself that you are valued, that you are sacred, that you are worthy, and you are loved just because you are.