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  • John Dunia

Hiding in plain sight

If only our faults were as plainly visible as those of others.

It will always be my contention that shame is one of the most prevalent yet least talked about issues most of us will ever face. Last week, we examined how the shame we face as adults was often intensified by the shame we experienced as children. Many, unfortunately, become so accustomed to its influence that it begins to feel like a normal and seemingly necessary part of life and if that’s the case, how will we ever learn to recognize its devastating effects?

As with anything in our lives we aim to improve, it takes a concerted effort; however, self-development is not something most of us have a natural inclination towards. Personal growth many times means discovering things about us which are not flattering and certainly not something which we’d brag about to others. In fact, discovering them can often feel so uncomfortable that at their first hint, it can send us straight to denial or avoidance. Detecting shame is even worse because not only does it raise all kinds of damaging feelings, it can leave us in a more depressive and hopeless state of mind.

Since personal development is often difficult, a good way to counter the challenge is to realize and accept that not only is it a struggle but to even embrace that struggle. What if we could learn to welcome our faults rather than dismiss them? Instead of lamenting the fact we have shortcomings, let’s appreciate that something has been revealed to us and we’ll now be empowered to overcome it and turn it into a victory.

I’ll always remember the feeling when my therapist, Dr. Shannon Smith, was finally able to help me see that my own shame was the real cause for most of my issues. I actually felt elated; almost as though a blindfold were removed from my eyes. The journey instantly became clearer and I now knew which direction I needed to head.

I am not naïve enough to believe that every time we face our own adversities that we all must react in this way only. Truthfully, there are still moments when my first reaction upon discovering them is denial or aggravation. I don’t wake up in the morning and exclaim, “I can’t wait to find out what’s wrong with me today”! However, I do come to embrace and appreciate it when I understand the extent of these issues knowing this discovery will only make me a better person.

Another challenge which shame presents, is that it manifests itself in myriad ways and emotions. It would not be beneficial to write, “The seven devastating emotions of shame” because that would terribly limit the influence it has over us. Discovering how shame impacts you individually may take a professional. I don’t know if I would have ever realized the depth of mine had it not been for Dr. Smith, but I do know that all the effort and hard work I did after that genuinely changed me and the direction of my life’s work.

Shame causes emotional wounds. While the scars they leave behind can often be deep or devastating, that doesn’t mean they can’t be healed. Our lives may never return to or have a semblance of normalcy but that doesn’t mean we can’t live a full and happy life. Next week, we will take a closer look at the healing process and how it will definitely help you on your journey. If you’re having some challenges currently and would rather not wait, please feel free to contact me directly. I’ll do what I can to help. Thank you and I look forward to your comments.

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