Shame is something that you feel – it’s a feeling. All you can do is feel it, with no story, no thinking, no words even. Just feeling. Where in the body is it? Just roast in it – this is the fastest way out. So that pretty much takes care of feelings. It doesn’t mean the shame goes right away, but when it’s there, just remember to feel it (read Feelings 101).
The next step is the big one, and it involves your thoughts. What are you believing regarding this shame? It’s time to turn the lights on and see what’s living in your head. The thoughts are what allow feelings like shame to continue and to be intense. Search your mind to see what thoughts are there, and make sure to keep it very simple. There’s no need to get overwhelmed, because you can only examine one thought at a time. How refreshing! Just start the process and it’ll go where it needs to go.
For example, a person who has a pattern of feeling shame might realize that he believes he is not worthy of love. He might believe he is small and insignificant. She might believe she is inferior to others or that she fails in everything she does. When we search our mind and find one of these thoughts, it’s time to test it for truth, a la the great teacher Byron Katie (see Resources). Is it true? Many people would answer, “Yes.” Let’s take it a step further, then. Can we absolutely know that it’s 100% true? Uhhh… It’s usually hard to answer this one in the affirmative. Note that even 99.999% true isn’t good enough to be worthy of living in our heads. So pitch it. This takes care of the thought aspect, which is huge. Then the feeling will usually linger for a while longer. So you feel it and directly experience it without a story, without language, like we described above. This is the fastest way out.
When we do this work, we only have to feel what’s there and then look for any thoughts we’re believing that are not true. Start with one thought at a time. More will come as needed, so don’t worry about that – just start with one and test it for truth. If it’s not true, pitch it. Always continue to feel what’s there. Wash, rinse, repeat. You can apply this to any feeling. It’s not necessarily instant magic (although sometimes it really is), but after a while you might notice that you’re carrying a lighter load, and this feels good. It means you have a system that’s working and that’s taking you to more peace.