This blog post came to me by way of a facebook group for my aromatherapy and herbal school students/graduates. It was both timely and poignant. Shame is something that we’re starting to really have a conversation about in our culture. Thanks to Brené Brown. It’s fabulous to see more people coming out and saying that it is enough to be who you are. I believe that myself, and I try to instill that in my children, and now in my clients. So much of our illness stems from this feeling of inadequacy, this sense that you won’t be good enough until something happens. We worry ourselves sick sometimes. Shame is one of those emotions that no one wants to experience, and we never want anyone else to know that we experience it. That’s how it grows. Shame wants to keep us isolated, to keep us feeling alone, small, and inadequate. Once we share that shame, we start to find others who also share it. We see that we’re not alone, and that simply bringing shame into the light makes it lessen and fade away. No one is immune to shame, but we can all develop resilience and learn to work through it as we create meaningful, intimate relationships with those who matter the most to us.

My first and foremost advice to anyone seeking my counsel for their health condition is to acknowledge and accept yourself as perfect in the now. The judgments of others do not lessen your worth. You can do nothing to change their mind. Pretending to be someone you are not, or trying to achieve an ideal that does not ring true in your heart will not make them accept you. It will only make you suffer as you try and become something you are not. Who you are is enough. That’s a hard concept for most of us, as we’re products of advertising, internet videos, peer pressure, and a culture that tells us that we won’t be amazing unless we have the latest things, look the latest way, or speak the trendy jargon. Marketers are experts at convincing us that we’re inadequate. That’s how they make their living. I’m not dinging marketers….everyone who trades goods or services for money is a marketer in some way or another. I’m just letting you know that the marketing messages sometimes prey upon our desire to fit in, to be a part of a group, to feel more worthy of belonging.

Shame comes from judgment. We judge others because we think it will make us feel better if we can position ourselves as more desirable than the person we judge. In reality, it makes the person we judge feel inadequate (if they are aware of our judgment) and it does nothing to elevate our own status. It creates worry and dissatisfaction in our own hearts. You cannot change the judgments of others. But you are fully empowered to change your own judgment. I hope this will encourage you to take action on the things you control. Make a pledge and commitment to stop judging others. Catch yourself when you start and push it aside. Instead, look inside that person’s heart. I promise that they are doing the best they can in their unique circumstances. This isn’t a free pass to let bad behavior or bad choices slide. You can still hold people accountable for wronging you or wronging others. You can point out the consequences of a choice or behavior. Consequences are not judgment. Judgment attempts to qualify a person’s character. Consequences address a behavior. Making a judgment says that a person’s behavioral choice is a character issue. Sometimes it can be, but mostly it is not. Trust that a person has good intentions, believe that they are trying to be positive and honest, and allow consequences to happen. Avoid judgment of others, and you’ll be amazed how you lift from the shame of others judging you.

Lisa Akers