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How to recognize the wound of shame | Living With Totality

Today I want to talk about a deep and universal theme that touches us all: the wound of shame or devaluation. In particular, it is the wound that most closely touched me and it took me a long time to realize that I was taken by the trance of shame.

wound of shame

What is the wound of shame?

Shame or devaluation, also linked to self-esteem, is an emotion that arises when we feel that we do not live up to our own or others' expectations. It is a feeling of not being enough, of not feeling valuable just for being. We then try to find value in how we look, what we achieve, what we do, and so on. We then feel a conditional value, related to what we learned as children. "If I am educated I will be loved", "if I become rich then I made it", "if I am not fit then I am not worthy of love", etc.


The impact of shame

Shame can manifest itself in many ways in our lives. It can make us feel small, invisible and anxious. It can lead us to adopt masks to force certain compensations that try to mitigate this wound from manifesting or becoming visible.


In my case, after my trip to India 15 or so years ago, I realized that I was compensating for my wound of shame by accumulating resumes, experiences and knowledge. That was what showed me that I was valuable and intelligent (education and IQ were highly valued in my home).


Depression: maximum degree of the wound of shame

Our thoughts, when we are taken by the trance of shame, play a very important role. From "I should have said or done...at a certain time", to something more chronic where our whole identity is taken over by that sense of feeling failed or inadequate.


A maximum gradient of this wound, which we can call depression, and even suicidal ideation, stems from the idea that the world would be better off without me, or that I am not worthy of being loved.

wound of shame boy

Embracing the wound: The first step toward healing

To begin to understand and disarm this wound it is important to understand how we behave, what we do in order not to feel shame. The first step to heal the wound of shame is to recognize its existence, to embrace it as it is; it is still part of our essence, but that does not mean that we have to be subjected to it. 


It is crucial to be compassionate with ourselves and understand that we all have this wound. It is important to understand how it works in us so that we can realize when we are taken by it and not believe what our thoughts tell us at that moment. Then, we will be able to distance ourselves from them and understand that we are not that.


Anatomy of the wound of shame

After encouraging us to enter into it, it is useful to see how the wound of shame works in oneself. To do this, we can dwell on three questions:

  • How that wound feels in us: the shame wound can feel like a heavy cloak, tightness in the chest, heat in the face, among other things. Knowing how we feel ourselves is important to be able to detect when we are taken by it.

  • What we think when we are taken by it: when we are in the trance of shame we think things of the nature of "I am not enough...", "If I were..., I would be valuable", "I will never be able to...".

  • What we do when we are taken by it: many of us hide, or use masks or roles that we think are accepted, or compensate by indulging, or anesthetize by distracting ourselves with alcohol, drugs, the phone, etc.


Changing the channel of thought

A useful tool to heal this wound is to go into that critical judge that constantly tells you that you are not enough, and change the channel of thought from the head to the heart. I invite you to put on the table each of the critical thoughts you have about yourself, and connect with the center of your chest to activate a more loving part, which can change the channel of thoughts to more loving thoughts. Move from "I am not enough..." to "I am learning", for example. I invite you to write more loving options for each critical thought your inner judge offers you.

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Becoming an expert investigator of how the wound of shame or devaluation acts in you is a profound process and results in a wonderful opening to a freer and more loving life. I invite you to embark on that path.


To begin to embark it, take a look at this video that you will find in my Resources section, entitled: "I don't feel enough: an exploration of our shame, self-esteem and guilt". I hope it helps you in your process, and you can contact me for anything you need.


With love

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