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What would you tell your former self in the throes of a shame spiral?
Beloved, you are stamped with the very imagine of God! Exactly as you are! You on the right track. You are being the very best of humanity! You kind and compassionate and loving. You listen well, you empathize, and you offer hope. Be at peace, beautiful girl.
Surround yourself with affirming scripture (John 1:12, Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 John 3:1, Isaiah 43:1-5 ... ). The list is endless!
Look after yourself. Have mental health days. Find music, books, movies, food etc that will help and comfort you.
Surround yourself with good friends
Be prepared to make change in your life even if it is painful at the time. Understand that not everyone including family and friends will support you.
Focus on the future
Don't hesitate to seek help if necessary. If necessary talk to a doctor or counselor.
Look for resources online. You are not alone.
Find ways to share your story, even if it is just keeping a personal journal or diary
Laugh! Smile! Celebrate!
Stop. Breathe. Place your hand on your heart. Feel the weight of your hand on your chest. And literally speak this, "This is a moment of suffering. Yes, this hurts. Yes, I am tired. Yes, I feel overwhelmed. And I am not the only one who has been through this. I will be okay."
That's an exercise my therapist gave me, and as cheesy or silly as it might sound, I swear by it. It is a radical act of self compassion that has allowed me to encounter painful moments, or even moments that feel triggering to me, and not be completely knocked off my cool. And because I have more self-compassion, I am able to have more compassion for others as well. It has made me such a better pastor and friend.
Laura Beth Buchleiter
When the perceived shame in any given moment is taking over, I try and remind myself of what I call “the myth of permanence”: the way things are is not the way they have always been or the way they will always be. That realization acknowledges that the way things are is the way they are: the feelings, the fears, the self-doubt and possibly even self-resentment or hatred are very, painfully real. The greatest fear for me isn’t from what I feel in the moment, it comes when I can’t remember feeling any differently or can’t imagine the feelings ever going away. For better or worse, change is a constant, past and future: when I wake up tomorrow, the world will look different.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
You are fully known and fully loved by God. Lean into your humanity and trust that God will show up. Continue making decisions based on love and not fear. Pursue the things that you discern are well with your soul.
I would tell myself,
“There is nothing wrong with you. I know you won’t believe that until you’ve research and reasoned your way to it but know that even without all that, you are okay. The very book you revere tells you so. Believe it.
Oh and don’t let someone’s opinions push you over the edge, no matter how much you respect and love them. If a person’s opinions affect you so negatively, the way they are expressing and loving you is not okay. Put up a barrier between the two of you so you can examine the person’s opinions before they strike you.”
I would tell myself that all the heartache, all the pain, all the self-doubt, and self-deprecation would one day turn into self-love and self-acceptance. I would tell myself about how the love of my partner has helped me live in utter authenticity, how my pastor and good friend Ellen would change my life and theological understandings and how my mother and father would never stop loving me, even when I hit my rock bottom. I would show my former self all that I had been through and how beautiful life had become, not because I was perfect, but because I learned from those shaming moments to not only understand what true self-love and trust in God actually meant, but that I used those moments as obstacles that could be used to teach others how to overcome their own. I would show my former self just how light and joyful life would become once I stopped trusting shame more than God.