Practicing Parents

On Shame and Parenting

–Janet Lynn Trevino-Elizararraz

Becoming an adult in the eyes of a child is deeply wished for because it is the epitome of freedom and power… as you visualize seeing a child sighing in disappointment and desire when an adult tells them, no. The fallacy of our childlike view of adulthood is that many of us as adults live enslaved and depleted nonetheless because of the beliefs created within childhood that we’ve brought along with us. Adulthood does not guarantee inherently freedom and power… we as individuals choose that.

Becoming an adult in the eyes of a child is deeply wished for because it is the epitome of freedom and power… as you visualize seeing a child sighing in disappointment and desire when an adult tells them, no. The fallacy of our childlike view of adulthood is that many of us as adults live enslaved and depleted nonetheless because of the beliefs created within childhood that we’ve brought along with us. Adulthood does not guarantee inherently freedom and power… we as individuals choose that.

As I consider the obstacles that keep me from my own freedom and power, one unspoken and lesser known experience comes forward: Shame. Had someone asked me to define shame, I don’t think I would have known the words to put to such a strong word that many of us can relate to feeling but not describe. Upon further inquiry, a simple definition appeared. Whereas guilt means feeling bad about what one has done, shame moves that inward and appears as feeling bad, wrong, and/or dirty about oneself. It attacks our identity, our character and our worth causing us to hide our authentic self.

Following the track given to us by life: marriage, children, and employment, many of us are not our true selves. Our shame that sees us as intrinsically wrong and bad and dirty are from where we live our lives. We’ve believed these messages and thoughts about who we are without question. They’ve become a part of us. It’s work to become aware of them much more to release them.

I’ve been called selfish as a child, and even though I give my best in marriage, I doubt that I am ever truly loving from my fullness. This leads me to not even try to love more fully because after all, I’m a selfish person. My shame of being selfish keeps me from loving.

Reading was a great difficulty for me in early elementary, and my writing as an adolescent was ridiculed publicly. My trauma around my experience speaks to how dumb I feel about my personal education, and as I homeschool my kids, the shame around my education keeps me at times from being patient and loving to my children while they learn.

These two examples reveal the shame that dictates my life… my shame tells me how to live instead of my true nature and identity being free to shine.

The process for me is about beginning to acknowledge the ways that my beliefs about myself are present. Hearing the small, judging voice within saying how stupid I am, how wrong I am, how dumb I was for speaking up when I should have kept my mouth shut, what an idiot I am for sharing my story with another, etc. And these words continue to validate the story we’ve created about ourselves that doesn’t allow us to achieve the freedom and power we long for. The judge within initially has good intentions to help us become better… but ultimately is a liar.

My work continues with simply challenging my isolated belief. Is it true? Can I absolutely know that it’s true that I should have kept my mouth shut? That I should have stayed home? That my story is not important to share?

Usually when asking myself these questions, I can’t affirm the validity of my self-criticism. Byron Katie, popular creator of The Work*, offers these and 2 additional questions that continue to allow us to connect more fully into our essence and see ourselves as the pure love and joy that we are leaving shame and guilt behind.

I’m ready to be me. I’m ready to live my life in love and loving all that happens around me and to me and within me. It all can be transformed for there is no shame in living our life. There’s no shame in being who we are. Becoming free from our untrue stories and beliefs can bring about the freedom and power and ultimately, the unconditional love we all deeply need.

 

*For more info on The Work of Byron Katie, please explore Thework.com

Janet spends her days with her four unschooled children moving in & out of their world as they explore YouTube videos & video game while she slips away throughout the day to write and to build her new business as a women’s circle facilitator of ritual & transformation and of a body-sex positive experience called Bodysex.  She’s most passionate to push the edges of what it means to be authentic and honest about one’s inner life and being in community with others. She & her family live in San Antonio, Texas.

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