Shame, Guilt and Embarrassment – the least fun sensations to experience. Which is why I have helped people have fun with these emotions – so that they can be brought up from the traumatized depths of the subconscious, handled and then shed like an old, unneeded piece of clothing. In Live Seminars of the 2000s, I conducted an exercise in which students created embarrassing situations for each other. The purpose was to bring up feelings of shame, breathe with them and authentically release. I would myself participate, to set an example. I remember students devising these cringe-moments for me, across different Seminars:
- I was to go to the Hotel Reception Desk and loudly ask whether the porn-channel in my room was included or extra charge. The task was to loudly say the word “porn channel” at least thee times. This was funny, as the Hotel staff knew me as this polite fellow who teaches higher consciousness. At least that’s the way I hoped they perceived me. The exercise helped me transcend my sense of self-importance. No longer needing to be perceived in a certain way = freedom.
- I had to ask a Hotel staffer, who came in the Seminar room to exchange the Coffee this question: “Do you like me?”. This was in my twenties and was really unpleasant to me at the time. I didn’t want to be perceived as being needy of approval (which means that I was). What made the situation even more awkward, is that this staff member and I had never seen each other before! The staffer smiled shyly but didn’t even respond or look at me, making me feel not like a needy person, but even worse, someone who was bullying her. So after the exercise I went to apologize and explain. The exercise helped reveal (and later overcome) approval-addiction.
- I had to wear a shirt that was much too tight for me (size small), all day. At first it was embarrassing but after a while it brought a smile to my face. From this I learned, how much I allow clothes to determine my identity. I also learned that I actually cared way too much about what complete strangers thought about me. There had been an absolute inability to feel good without just the right clothes. The dependence was somewhat transcended from that day forward. There is a difference between dressing well out of concern of what others think and dressing well out of inspiration.
- I had to reveal my entire browser History on a wall-projected image for the whole group. This wasn’t as big of a deal for me as the students had hoped (the group “boooed” at the harmlessness of it).
When other peoples attention is directed to your shadow lower-self, consciousness tightens in an attempt to hide. These contracted states are called…
and are usually coupled with tightened body language and narrow perception.
Shame is the thought “I am bad“, Guilt is the thought “I did something bad” (which is less damaging than “I am bad”). At the same time, one is too worried about what others might think. You judge yourself harshly and believe others do the same and that their judgement absolutely defines you (Some then rebel against the judgement they imagine others having, which means they are rebelling against a projection of their own Imagination). Embarrassment is a softer version of Shame. You don’t really need it to keep you in line. Shame binds plenty of energy, releasing it makes you more healthy and alive. Suppressed shame is linked to things such as poverty, obesity and ill health.
Embarrassment can be released by allowing yourself to feel vulnerable. The lower-self biggest fear is to be vulnerable, to be seen as bad or to let go of control. It’s one of the great spiritual paradoxes that letting go of the need to control (trusting life) and its source, helps you feel more in control. When you allow embarrassment, you allow vulnerability. When you allow vulnerability, you are releasing the need to control. When you release the need to control, you will feel more in control.
The “You are Bad” belief that underlies shame and guilt, is supposed to serve the purpose of keeping low-consciousness-people civilized. It is assumed that, if they didn’t feel shame, they’d more likely commit transgressions. But I doubt that these emotions are really needed for doing good, if you replace Shame with Love and Respect. I have a very little shame, but I do have respect. Respect is different than shame. I will not appear naked to my friends Wedding, not because I am ashamed, but because I love and respect the people there. I will dress nicely when I go to that wedding, not because I am afraid of what they’ll think about me if I don’t, but because I respect myself and others. If you have love, you don’t need shame.
Others say that if you have no shame and guilt, you will repeat mistakes. But the opposite is true. Shame and Guilt assume you will make the mistake again. If you intend to do better, you don’t need shame and guilt. The only times they serve a positive function are in extremes, like rape and murder. But for sane people, shame and guilt have a negative effect. They prevent people from expressing themselves freely, feeling light and developing genuine relationships.
There is a show I have recommended to people who are dealing with timidity and shyness. It is called Impractical Jokers and features 4 friends who set out to embarrass each other in public. As ridiculous as it is, the show is unintentionally educative in that it shows how most people are very nice and forgiving. Sometimes too nice, to the point of being shy to point out these pranksters disrespectful behavior. This proves, beyond doubt, that there is no reason to be afraid of regular people. If you are shy or afraid of people, I recommend you watch a season of the show.
Should you ever find yourself in an embarrassing situation, it’s an opportunity. Instead of suppressing the moment and trying to run away, try to stand in that moment, keeping your body upright, your head high and maintaining eye contact with people, like you have nothing to hide. Shame causes you to make yourself small, as you believe others are judging you or that it is bad that they judge you. By doing the opposite and staying “big” or expanded, you gradually transcend these indoctrinated contractions.