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Please forgive me for using this space for sharing this but it is very painful and I hope that in speaking it out loud it may help. I also have a question related to this.

This weekend I took a workshop. At the end of this workshop I shared some very personal details of my past. Afterwards I felt a deep sense of being exposed, silly and terrible shame. The process of looking at myself seems to be working in me, however, in this situation the shame has overwhelmed and short-circuited my ability to look, think, concentrate, anything. I suppose it must be my most extreme vulnerable underbelly of fear.

Have others found that in the process of looking at themselves, external events appear as part of the process?

What complicated things was that at one point on the second day (prior to the shame-producing events), I experienced a complete dropping away of myself as the physical, mental and psychological entity as I was walking up some steps. For a moment I couldn't breathe or think and my 'apparatus' became as if it were transparent (not literally, but in the sense of hmmm, words hard to find...merging or redundant). It was very shocking. And even now, the day after, I still feel shocked by both things.

I know to go back to the looking. Thanks for the space here to share.



That's an authentic sharing The energy of shame can be disabling, as you found out. But that's all it means: that you were paralyzed in the face of it. Some people turn beet red; others stuff it and say they deserve to be shamed. I like your statement that is is the "underbelly of fear," but in actuality it's probably a manifestation of the "not good enough" tendency most of us have been plagued with. Shame was always there as the most virulent aspect of that theme. You can count yourself fortunate for having experienced it so powerfully, and yet you're still standing, unaffected.

As to your question as to whether external events appear as part of the process, they are going to transpire with or without the looking. But you may find a greater sensitivity to those events, and because you have replaced control with honesty, you are more likely to find yourself in direct contact with the things you ordinarily would avoid or try to manipulate. I hope you continue to meet them head on. Nothing can hurt you. Trimpi

Hi Emma,

Please know that you are not alone in these feelings. I, too, have gone through some really awful feelings, including deep shame and guilt, hatred and terror. And now I can see in 20/20 hindsight that they were old buried feelings from the past that I was finally able to face and release. You can count it as a very good sign that your recovery is underway. Also, it's sort of like the feelings do themselves - the shame feels ashamed, the fear feels afraid, the guilt feels guilty. You experience what the feelings do as they pass by. At some point in your life, the energy of them got "stuck", and now they are being presented once again for acknowledgement. They will release themselves as they are simply acknowledged. There's really nothing else you need do with feelings except acknowledge them. You don't need to dig them up, or try to hurry the process. They will show up as they are ready. The process will take care of itself now that you are self-aware enough to acknowledge them as they show up.

Don't worry about being temporarily unable to think in these situations. Just acknowledge how it all feels as it comes up. And as John says, the recovery process is idiosyncratic and it'll go how it goes. The medicine of looking will work in its mysterious way, and these difficulties will come and go.

And yes, external events do appear as part of the process. The recovery process will bring up those circumstances which have previously caused you fear, because in the restructuring process, the old mental processes are being dismantled, and this can wreak all kinds of havoc, mentally and physically. The "dropping away of yourself as the physical, mental and psychological entity" is an interesting state, but it was a passing state, and John would say it was of no consequence. It didn't hurt you or help you, and neither did the feelings of shame or being exposed.

Lately, I notice just how much fear I've lived with. I can see how even the most minor thing can bring up feelings of being at stake. I'm able to recognize this more and more quickly, so I'm able to acknowledge the feeling more and more quickly. I'm pretty sure this acknowledgement of feeling at stake assists in the healing process. And I'm sure you can see how shame stems from feeling at stake. Feeling at stake stems from the belief that something "bad" will happen if I don't do, say or think the "right" thing – I will be diminished in some way, or abandoned in some way, or punished in some way. This insidious belief gets stuck deep within our psyche, making life more hellish than happy. Like John says, we come to the conclusion that life as a human just sucks.

By some miracle, the Looking at what it feels like to be me and you is the next step in our evolution. Thanks so much for sharing, Emma! So glad for your presence here in these forums!


Dear Emma,

My going sane has often been the way you describe, a big step forward and then a reaction from the old fears and patterns. And yes, for me, external events often appear as part of the process. I have come to know this reaction and don't pay much attention to it now. I know it is temporary. Shame is one of the major tools of pathology. It is almost like our society injects us early with shame. Shame may throw you off Looking at Yourself for a short time but not for long. And every time you get back onto it, the shame is weakened. Lera Jane

Dear Lerajane, Jenny and Trimpi,

Thank you for your kind and helpful reflections. One day on and I can see that although this event was a great disruption to my nervous system, it was just an event. It still feels like a bruise after a fall, but your words helped me to distinguish it as just an event with some attached emotional consequences.

I used the word 'nervous system' not because I am a Victorian physician (!) but because it feels with hindsight more like my synapses were flooded, but I added on the effect of (thank you Jenny),

"Feeling at stake stems from the belief that something "bad" will happen if I don't do, say or think the "right" thing – I will be diminished in some way, or abandoned in some way, or punished in some way."

Certainly here it was a reminder of 'not good enough' and my life being at stake. It is interesting how the actual sense of survival is bound up in this 'at stakeness'. No wonder it is miserable and such things are so painful if it is bound up with the belief that the actual survival of the organism is at risk..!

It is very useful to hear from all of you how much this is an expected part of the process. Thank you for the opportunity to reflect here.

Emma ~


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