Authors note: This is the final in a series of articles written as letters, ending on a subject which is undeniably close to my purpose and passion.
Much has changed about You since the day I realized how much control I had given You for the first 50 years of my life. I’ll never forget February 22, 2013, the day Your influence began diminishing over me. I was fortunate to have a therapist who guided me to the understanding it wasn’t what others said to me that was my problem. It was when I believed and accepted those lies about me as truth, that is the moment it became the real obstacle.
Up to that point, everything I experienced was being filtered through a fraudulent lens You placed before me. The only way of comprehending my everyday life was to understand it the way you wanted it to unfold. You were so clever I had no idea I was being manipulated so cunningly.
You have really done a masterful job over the millennia of human existence. There is no other emotion quite as powerful while continuing to remain in the shadows, lying undetected, unnoticed, and seemingly forgotten.
The range of emotions You instigate appear to be completely opposite from one another. To some, Your effect initiates feelings of complete unworthiness while in others, their aim is to thwart You with total arrogance. No other emotion has adapted itself quite as skillfully.
You have also learned that the more You infiltrate those who hide their feelings of insignificance with false pride and superiority, the more difficulty they will face in realizing You are the root cause of their problem.
This is precisely why I have dedicated the rest of my life to change the way humanity perceives and understands You.
Your other greatest achievement is leading others to believe You are something else and call you by another name, guilt. I understand why people have this confusion. I was caught in the very same trap. By exhibiting the same physical symptoms as guilt, You’ve muddied the waters of understanding and even confused many mental health professionals from ascertaining the difference.
All is not bleak. The first line of defense is to distinguish that difference. Guilt is the feeling we get when we’ve made a mistake or bad choice. However, that feeling can be a reminder to help change future behaviors. But You, Shame, want us to believe we made those bad choices or mistakes because there is something severely wrong with us and it cannot be fixed.
My goal is to help others recognize they no longer must succumb to Your lies. That healing from the damage You caused is possible. And the first step is to forgive ourselves for ever believing You in the first place. Although it may not be as simple as it sounds, I am here to help guide people on their journey.
There is one other important distinction which maintains and supports Your proliferation. I must admit, this was difficult for me to accept at first, but You see Shame, all this time, I’ve been referring to you as though you were some powerful, distinct entity with the sole purpose of wreaking havoc on humanity. I’ve described you as cunning, bold, and nearly timeless. The truth is however, You and I are the same person. I am not battling a hidden foe; I am fighting the belief in the lies which I became convinced of.
Long ago, when things were said to me which were hurtful -whether they intended to harm me or not – the moment I believed them, You became a part of me. The more those words were spoken the more I felt compelled to believe them. And when I trusted those words to be true, they became facts and in our human minds, facts are nearly impossible to change.
I wish eradicating You were as effortless as I have stated. But You don’t surrender easily. At times, I still grapple with your effects, but I’ve become accustomed to dealing with you swiftly and effectively.
Will you ever completely be defeated and banished from this planet? It is very doubtful, but that is the least of my worries. When people know how to successfully recognize and disarm You, Your influence diminishes rapidly. The sooner we all learn to appreciate our value and grow in genuine self-confidence, the quicker Your control subsides.
Well, at least some of Your control. This brings me to the most challenging part of my journey. Those who have understood You from the unworthiness standpoint are much more likely to see your effect than those who’ve tried to silence You with overinflated egos. They are the ones who will have the hardest time acknowledging and becoming aware You are the root of their problem.
The catalyst for change never manifests until the need for change becomes perceptible. They won’t comprehend how ravenously they proliferate Your influence by brandishing You with practiced art and incredible skill. That is where Your hope lies. In the careless embrace of a willfully arrogant life.
Unfortunately for You Shame, that is one challenge I gladly accept. What You don’t realize is in the beginning of their unsuspecting road to arrogance, there first was a spattering of confidence. Their original intent was to become better. Unfortunately, they were never shown how to unmask Your aggrandizing presence and form a humbler, kinder, and more compassionate approach in response to You.
But that spark of hope in them does not die. No doubt it will require tireless effort supplemented with love and kindness for that flame is to spread, but this is exactly what brings hope and purpose to my life. Their innate need to improve can experience a transforming overhaul, igniting a fire across the globe while simultaneously neutralizing Your toxicity.
It’s a daunting task, Shame, but one I willingly bear and each time I think about it, I’m reminded of how much better this world will be by keeping that journey going.